Thursday, February 7, 2013

Some Might Call Me Crazy: Why I'm FINALLY Ready for a Dog

Lately I've been in this weird (for me) I-think-I-REALLY-need-a-dog mode. People who know me personally can attest to how "not me" this actually is. Really. It's. Not. Me.

As the mother of three now-grown children, I suffered through the obligatory childhood dog thing. Many's the day that I was reminded how getting the dog(S) was my actual idea. One came into our household after our then 3-year-old son had gotten staples in his head (the mere suggestion of it in the ER made him stop crying!), and the other was later obtained for our then-introverted, animal-loving daughter after our 5th relocation in 5 school years... These reminders usually came when I'd complain to my husband about how the dog hair was everywhere, or how the older dog, Molly, smelled bad(to me, anyway)/annoyed me/pooped/breathed/existed/etc. The younger dog, while sweeter and less stinky than smelly Molly, had even MORE hair and shed it EVERY time she wagged her tail/breathed/etc... which was often (constant, really).

The story of how we got OUT of the childhood dog ownership thing is long and dramatic, but suffice it to say that in one summer, we emptied our nest of all three children AND both dogs. Freedom.

No more vet visits... No more searching for a reliable kennel whenever we traveled... No picking up dog crap in the backyard or on walks...

For 4 years... BUT...

Leave it to the Universe to get me where it counts...

My current dog-longing started as a little seed of a thing, swarming around my mind like a fly might swarm your ear at a summer picnic. You swat, and fan from time to time, but you stay at the table, eating, and thinking that eventually this "thing" will move on.

It didn't. The swarm got louder and then I actually allowed myself to entertain the swarm... I entertained it, and then drew some supporters into my entertainment of it. My first enabler was my son, Phil. He's been talking about getting a dog as soon as he and his girlfriend are settled into their next phase after college - but that could be over a year from now - so the idea of ME getting a dog sooner was the next-best thing.

Next to join me was my dad. He's been wanting a dog for some time. I knew he'd encourage my weird obsession.

Even though I'm totally OK with my new infatuation, I've been puzzled by it. My husband, once I came clean to him, was equally (if not more) puzzled... He wondered if something was wrong.

"WHY? WHY?" I'd wonder during the dark wee hours of the morning during hours of self-reflection and analyzing... It really made no sense...

And then it came to me.

There I was, minding my own business, finishing up a session at my favorite yoga studio, when the teacher made a little comment just before our final breathing exercise called "deep belly breathing" - well there's a prettier Sanskrit name for it, but I can never remember those Sanskrit names - she said something like, "Now, when we are doing this, we are helping to cool our bodies (this was taking place in a HOT yoga class, BTW). Think of how a dog pants to cool himself when he's hot. That panting cools us off, too. I just LOVE dogs. I make so many connections between them and so many things we do. Dogs are my favorite."

So, why are dogs her favorite? Why can't I ever have a favorite...anything? I wondered as I lay in savasana (I do know that Sanskrit name for the resting pose). I tried desperately to think of anything that I could actually gush about the way that this woman was gushing about her freakin' dogs. The only thing that came to mind was my grandson. I DO gush over him - LOTS. I am that grandmother - the one who whips out her phone and says, "Look at this adorable picture of my grandson," to anyone who happens to be nearby when a cute one comes through the airwaves (everyone agrees with me, too). Over the past 15 months his existence has made a sizable crack in the cement wall that I've constructed around my heart and what I've noticed are a few blades of dog-shaped grass that have started to tentatively sneak out. I realized that gradually, over the past few decades I've become a pretty monotone person...

The rest of that evening I mulled this over.

During that night, I thought about dogs I'd had as a kid - all dogs that we'd had to give up for one reason or another after a very short time, or the little 8-pound dog, Mo, I loved during its brief 8 months of life when our kids were very young. That one was run over by a car right in front of our house, in front of my kids. I thought about people leaving me, or me being left as a kid and young adult. It had become safer to not allow myself to get into a situation that would make it painful to give something or someone up. Distance is safer no matter what the proximity. I'm pretty good at creating distance even when I can't get away.

The drawing inside myself, of becoming monotone, is safer hence the concrete-covered heart.

I thought about my craving for order and predictability throughout my life - from as far back as I can remember - and all the ways that this might have prevented me from having some really meaningful experiences. One of the experiences is actually getting gushy over a dog. Really. I think it's actually going to happen.

Stay tuned.

1 comment :

Debbie said...

It is similar to having a toddler in the way the dog will follow you around, depend on you for everything, love you no matter how you are behaving, a dog will think you are the most beautiful creature in the world and his whole body will light up and wiggle when you enter the room. He will protect you (or think that he is) and he will freak you out when he stares and lowly growls at something just past your shoulder. (you will be afraid to turn around, but so far, its always just been something only my dog could see, or a squirrel outside) The dog will make mistakes, everyday, like a toddler and will want to know you forgive hime and love him anyway. Bonus: None of my dogs have learned to talk back, drive a car, "borrow" my debit car, or where an outfit that I hate. It is forever. He is counting on you to take care of him until one of your forevers is over. I will always have a dog. s