I already have a cat.
A dog would greet me each morning with a huge, toothy smile while wagging its behind in an attempt to keep up with its tail. A dog would be delighted I was awake and out of bed, you see. A dog would run for its leash and dance in front of the door. Its whole being would exude “Yipeee let’s go let’s go let’s go for a walk!”
My cat merely stands on my chest, each of his front paws weighing 65.9 pounds, and waits for me to start gasping for air, which never fails to wake me. Then he sits in front of his bowl and watches me like a hawk until I pour his morning repast, roughly two tablespoons of evaporated milk. When he’s licked the bowl clean he goes back to bed.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my cat, but our relationship is based totally on comfort. His, mostly. Sure, he does his part. He meatloafs on my stomach and purrs me to sleep each night, which is sweet and oddly reassuring. But let’s not kid ourselves. If my stomach wasn’t soft and blumphy – not to mention 30 degrees warmer than the surrounding furniture – the cat wouldn’t bother. We both know it.
But a dog … a dog would get under the covers with me. He’d sleep as close as possible, and he’d stay in that position until he used up all the oxygen down there. And not only that: my dog would do this because he wants to be with me, because in his soulful brown eyes I’m the Most Wonderful Person in the World – and not just because his paws are cold.
Now I have to admit I already DO have a dog. And he’s a Good Dog, mostly. Trouble is, he’s a few crayons short of a full box, and while he starts out behaving nicely on a leash, a passing car can terrify him. He weighs 93 compact and very muscular pounds, so if he bolts, believe me, he’s taking me with him. Right under that car’s tires.
He’s also utterly convinced he must protect me from Evil People. I wouldn’t mind this (and frankly, I feel quite safe if I’m home alone), except he considers all people outside of his own family/pack Evil. That means if I take him for a walk, I have to put a muzzle on him or he’ll disembowel anyone who comes closer than 10 feet away. This is Not Good. The muzzle, by the way, also terrifies my poor, cracked dog. We both end up traumatized and trembling.
We took him to training classes and tried hard to socialize him, but by then I was terrified he’d tear the hand off some heedless child who ran up squealing, arms outstretched for a big hug, “Doggie! Cute doggie!” Because he is cute. He looks like a big, cuddly, red-gold bear. But looks are deceiving, and when it was clear that the only way to keep him from biting someone was to have all his teeth removed, we gave up.
My dog and I don’t do walkies. Ever.
He’s going on 13 years old now and showing his age. He’s all gray around his eyes and jaws, and he likes nothing better than to snooze near the fire. So while it makes me feel a little bit guilty, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it would be like to have a “normal” dog. One that I can take on walks. One that might lick people to death, but would never dream of hurting them in any way. One with no bats in his belfry.
There’s a motive to my madness. I like to walk. It’s great for my health: it revs up my naturally slow metabolism, it helps strengthen my muscles and be more flexible, and it’s good for the rheuma. The thing is, I don’t particularly like walking by myself. Human walking buddies are great if I can find one, but most of the time I can’t. So most of the time I also can’t seem to get myself out for a walk.
When I do, I enjoy the fresh air and the movement, but I’m a bit lonely. No one to talk to. No one to point out that pretty bird to, or laugh about the llama with. I take my iPod and listen to music or an audiobook while I walk, but it just isn’t the same as company.
And then I see someone coming along the trail toward me, a dog on a leash beside or in front of her. The dog is trotting along smiling, ears perked, tongue lolling, a bit goofy smile on his face. His person seems happy, too. They’re a team. They’re both enjoying the walk.
While out on my solitary walks I’ve seen rottweilers and rat terriers, shepherds and shi tzus. I’ve seen Basset hounds, and Welsh corgis, and Boston terriers and dachshunds. I’ve even seen Great Danes and once, a huge, beautiful, black Newfoundland hound. Some of them I’ve stopped and talked to – the dogs and their people.
It’s so nice.
So I’m thinking about a dog. I probably won’t get one until my fearful old friend goes to the Great Doghouse in the Sky, but that’s OK. I’ve been perusing pet adoption sites. There are so many Good Dogs who need Good People. I’m sure that one day, we’ll find each other.
Oh – gotta go. The cat wants his supper.