I’m sitting in my favourite position on the couch. Which is to say, with my dog, Monty, on my lap. I’ve been observing dogs most of my life, and I have come to certain conclusions about them, which are far from absolute fact, as I’m no expert, but they seem true to me. I have had a few dogs in my life, mostly in my early childhood, to the age of 15, then skipping about 25 years where my life was too complex and charged to contemplate dog-ownership. Since the age of about 40 I’ve had two dogs. Abe, who was a beautiful and wonderful german shepherd/rottweiler cross who died at age 11 of an undiagnosed ailment; and the present dog, Monty, who is about as different from Abe as is possible to get. A white, nine-pound Maltese/Bichon mix (at the vet’s best guess) who is and always was a complete lap dog. If you think that all small dogs are programmed to be lap dogs, you’re actually wrong, because my good friend has a lap-dog-sized dog, Rosie, who has had to be coaxed into enduring sitting on laps. Her background is known: she was born and grew up in a puppy mill, where sitting on laps was something I’m sure she never did in her life before she landed the cushy situation she’s in now. Monty, however, coolly sat on my lap from the day we met him at his foster parents’ place and has been a contented lap-dog ever since and I bet always was. He was a stray, so we’ll never know where he got the habit.
What I’ve observed about Monty is that he is a comfort-seeking creature. I think in his own way (and who really knows how the brain of a dog works?) he’s somehow fond of me. I’m his main human. I give him most of his food, water, affection and walks; and the small amount of training and discipline he receives is also from me. Therefore, one would assume that he’d prefer to sleep with me at night, sit with me when there’s a choice of laps to be had, etc. However, I’ve observed that he’s quite inconsistent in his choices. Sure, he often chooses me over others; but let’s say he’s happily ensconced with my son on the couch, preferably surrounded by fluffy cushions or a duvet, I could call him until I’m hoarse to go for a walk and he’d just look at me. In that kind of situation he won’t move until I actually pick him up to put on his coat and leash. This goes double when it’s cold or rainy out.
If a visitor comes to the door, Monty’ll bark his head off, scampering around, excited, madly wagging his tail, trying to both scare the person off and make him his best friend, it seems. A few minutes later he could be sitting on this person’s lap. A few hours later he could have decided he’d rather sleep with a person he’d only met that day, over the person who adopted him, cares for him like another son (ask my kids) and feeds him treats more often than is good for him. Who knows why? In order to avoid this embarrassing chain of events I have to close our bedroom door so he can’t sneak off in the middle of the night to sleep with someone else. I try not to take it personally, however, even though it hurts me, this behaviour of his, because dogs are mysterious creatures, who don’t think the way we do and we’ll never understand about a dog’s affections or lack thereof. Loving a dog is a lesson in allowing the object of your affection be who he/she is and loving without expectations. I will continue to care for him, whether he appears to feel the same about me or not. In fact, when he’s old and sick or injured, he may blame me for his pain, because he doesn’t understand where it comes from. The odd time I’ve accidentally stepped on his foot, he leaps back and looks at me as though he has no idea who I am. “Why did you hurt me, and are you going to keep doing it??” his look seems to say. Nevertheless, when the time comes, and it will be way too soon, I will try to make his last days as comfortable as possible. It’s what I signed on for when I adopted him. The whole way-too-short deal.
Despite the drawbacks of this somewhat lop-sided love affair, I get a lot of pleasure and comfort from Monty’s presence. He doesn’t really have to do much of anything else but just be around and it’s enough for me.
If this post doesn’t seem to have much to do with gardening, I suppose you’re right. It has a lot to do with tranquility, however. I love observing other species, whether animal or vegetable. It’s endlessly fascinating. I don’t always understand them, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying either one.
Enjoy this cute clip from “Horsefeathers” with Groucho Marx playing romantic guitar.
[embedplusvideo height=”225″ width=”350″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/1de4M3J” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/FS3dD8D1FE8?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=FS3dD8D1FE8&width=350&height=225&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=¬es=” id=”ep1727″ /]