This week I was happy that I have a dog. Happy to have an excuse to take a walk and go up to the dog run. Dogs don’t think you are a freak. Dogs don’t need to talk everything out. I would say that dogs are simple, but Gracie is quirky. I’ve had her for over six years, and I still think of her as my “new” dog. I’ve watched Gracie, I’ve studied her, I’ve paid a lot of attention to her. I don’t completely get her. We are not a perfect match; but we are good enough.
Gracie is a black border collie mix. Her face is hard to read. I’ve learned to watch her ears. She has beautiful soft fluffy ears that usually fly at half mast. When they are relaxed and bouncy, she is content. When they are laid back flat against her head, she is happy. When they swivel sideways, she is tentative. When they perk up, she is alert or anxious. When they perk up and the tips fold over and point rigidly forward then she is about to do something that I will regret. I try to correct her before she reacts. Sometimes she is too fast for me.
My first dog, Lena, developed good manners and street smarts. Gracie still acts like a rural rube. Gracie does not differentiate between people who are odd and people who might actually be a threat. She wants to bark at construction workers carrying tool boxes, homeless people looking for cans to redeem, and runners in spandex tights. She will obey me if I tell her ahead of time to hush, but she may have a histrionic outburst if I am not paying attention or if I don’t see it coming.
I’ve made a lot of apologies on her behalf. I’m one of those dog owners who says “sorry, she’s really not a bad dog” after Gracie has, without warning, lunged like a lunatic or barked her head off. Sometimes she embarrasses me. I get over it as soon as she rubs up against me.
Lena was happy if one part of her body touched one part of mine. She’d curl up with me on the couch, put her head on my leg, and let me read in peace. Gracie likes to come up on the couch, but she insists that I put my book down. She gets annoyed If I pet her with one hand and read with the other. I have to focus on her, admire her, service her. She is into mindfulness. She does not like me to multi-task. I don’t read as much as I used to.
Gracie is perfectly content in her body. She knows what she likes. She has soft belly hair and tiny nipples. We both like it when I stroke her belly from her vulva to her chest, stopping for a light scratch at the top. She lies still, eyes closed, mouth open. When I stop, she squirms and sneezes. taps her tail against the cushion, and waves her paws in the air; she wants more. She is a pleasure hound. I continue to pet her. I forget about reading. My brain quiets down. I lose track of the time, my sadness, my dysphoria. We are both mesmerized. A boy and her dog.