Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Comfort of Dogs

All the love in the world.
There is something about the love of a dog that is completely unexplainable. It's nothing they do, per say, that is particularly helpful to daily living. They don't talk, or offer words of advice when life's got you down. They require lots of care, their poops must be picked up, and they are always, always, like toddlers.

And yet, when things aren't going well, when you're feeling sad, or frustrated or scared, nothing beats cuddling up with a mutt.

Ah, a life with dogs. Pictured here: Rocco & Sugar.

We've got two. Sugar, a  black lab/American bulldog mix, and Rocco, a jack russell/rat terrier mix. When my son and I rescued Sugar, she was about a year and a half old. Her black fur was thick with dandruff, and she smelled. She had an episode of diarrhea as we were driving her home from her adoption, and she attempted to cover the pile with the few treats we'd given her. At some point in her life, she'd run from her foster home and had been hit by a car, causing her to endure a handful or surgeries for the five months prior to my meeting her. Sugar was terrified of her own shadow. Somehow, she knew we'd take good care of her, and she tried to settle in. She wasn't much of a cuddler, but when I found myself alone at night, she'd come onto the couch where I was sitting, and lay beside me. Slowly, she'd nudge me to the edge of the couch, and I'd hang tight, nosing my face into her warm fur.  Just having her there made me feel safe. Occasionally, she's put her nuzzle onto my lap and sigh. Something about her trusting me made me feel worthwhile and loved.

Sugar's the quiet one.

After a year of Sugar living with us -- only eating when being hand fed raw meat, running from the littlest noise, and pacing the house but never really relaxing unless she was in her crate -- it was brought to my attention that she might need a pal, another dog to help her relax and come out of her shell. I searched for a dog that seemed like s/he might be a good fit. There were so many cute dogs, and truly, what did I know about finding a pal for Sugar? Her easy going demeanor made it easy for her to get along with any dog, but would any dog be kind to her? I wanted the best fit but had no idea how to find that.

The Petfinder listing that stole my heart. 

After meeting a few dogs, who were rescued before I even had a chance to apply for them, I ended up with Rocco (who was named Bastin, before we changed his name). A little ratter, with the biggest ears I'd ever seen, seemed to be the one. He'd been living in a foster home with 13 other dogs his whole life. So, dog friendly for sure. Ah, what profiles don't tell. He barked and barked and barked, and if anyone tried to pick him up, he gnarled and bit them. But we'd already taken him, and were committed to making it work.

Sugar and Rocco became fast pals. And despite Rocco's (still) incessant barking and occasional grumpy nipping, he's become the furry love of my life. Having both dogs has changed everything. They are entertaining, wonderful to snuggle up to, interesting to watch, and something about their presence simply calms me.

They love each other.

I wish I knew why. I have an amazing husband who is everything to me. He's loving and attentive, and provides an indestructible support for my life. My son, and my three stepchildren, are wonderful bundles of energy, full of stories and laughter. They keep us busy and always make things interesting. But something about those dogs...

When they are jumping at the door, barking at visitors, squirrels, cars, etc., comfort is not the word that comes to mind. Their canine demands are less than inviting. I command them, unsuccessfully, to Shush! then proceed to roll my eyes and wish they would just. be quiet.  And when I am holding both leashes in one hand while using the other to unceremoniously pick poops up off the lawns of neighbors, well, I could live without those moments. But when they look up at me with those sweet wide eyes, mouths agape, tongues wagging, the feeling of complete unconditional love emanates from them.

Wag goes the tongue.
Perhaps that's it. No matter how I look, what kind of mood I am in, or how I'm behaving, my dogs' loyalty is consistent. They always want me to run my hand across their back, tug on their ears, or cuddle up beside them on the couch. It's a total acceptance of who I am, and that is by far the most comforting feeling in the world.

1 comment:

  1. you know my feelings on this! dogs are truly a magical gift!