On Sundays, we ride our bikes to the farmers market in Larchmont Village, where we buy local organic produce and I pretend that we have a sweet, simple, healthy life in a small town in New England. This Sunday, my husband went in to get coffee, having to walk around a large brown hound that was virtually blocking the door. The hound was literally crying, whimpering in fact. An older man was ineffectively trying to hold him back from going inside every time the door opened and closed. I smiled, thinking of our own sweet shepherd that would be doing the same thing if he’d been with me in this exact scenario. The older woman attached to the older man saw my smile and said, “His Dad is inside.” I nodded, totally getting it and instantly thinking about what she was really saying. The man inside the coffee shop is her son and the large brown hound is her son’s son.
I know twenty friends and neighbors that have dogs that they adore and even worship. They speak sweetly and gently and in their own nick-namey-lingo-bordering-on-madness voice, that they use especially pour la pouch. Boo-boo, Boojie, Snooches, Snoochai, are the tame ones. Some have created a special, almost dog-latin like miliated , for humiliated when she feels her Boo-boo is embarrassed because she put a Halloween costume on him — that she leaves on even though she knows he “Miliated!” And many others that speak for their dogs in the canine’s voice. “No Mommy, I don’t want dry nasty kibble, I want that steak and potatoes you’re having.” My husband often says, “He wants to go with me to the store or I have to take him to the park because I told him I would.” He talks freely to our big boy as easily as he would to a first grader. “It’s raining sweetie, so we have to wait for our walk.” Sometimes when I’m upset I wish he’d love me like he loves the dog. He’s never ever raised his voice to him or forgotten to hug and kiss him and if he cries even for a second, they’re both on the floor snuggling.
Many make-out with their puppy, big, wet, licky, smooches, others spend hours teaching them to shake hands or dance on their hind legs. One friend blogs regularly about how her Beagle in this pose or that, resembles Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry or Rihanna in Esquire. And another has an fb page about her natural food remedies called Blue’s Kitchen, named for her Husky. We freakin’ love our dogs! I say we love them the way we want to be loved. That love that we give to our canines, at least in that moment, makes up for any pain and mistreatment we’ve ever received.
These twenty people I personally know don’t have children. Instead, we have doggie babies that we love as much as anyone loves their child. Some maybe alarmed by that, but this isn’t news to most and it’s the phenomenon of this devotion that runs so deep in our hearts and souls that fascinates me. Its value is unparalleled. The dog that sleeps on its master’s grave long after the human is gone and the pup that tramples the war veteran with affection after months of separation. There are times when I love our Fritzy because he’s such a big fuzzy, cuddly, sweet beast, like I did my big black teddy bear Boris and other times I love him because he seems human, with his soulful amber eyes and people-like gentile nature and quick responses.
Good company, unconditional love, calming energy, pure joy and something else even more profound. Dogs give us a space, void of self judgment, fear of intimacy or acting stupid, of pure giving and receiving. Woof-woof.