Sunday, January 15, 2006
My New Friends
I've spent the day being feted about Seattle by my brother and his wife, doing disgusting boy things: shopping for motorcycles, talking about cars and plasma TVs, eating donuts, watching The World At War. A perfect day. I've been out here several times over the years, but it's always just enough time between visits that there's a little rediscovery.
But the thought for the night is this bracing non-sequitur:
Is there anything like a dog?
I have written in praise of cats before, and I do think of myself, by a narrow margin, as a cat person. But I've always thought this is as much because of practical considerations with my itinerant lifestyle as it is a reflection of any strongly-held convictions. We had dogs when we were growing up, and some may recall mention of the Sweet Lamb of Dog. And now we have today's experiences to add further pressure to change my preference.
My brother and his wife (M&M--hey, is that an omen?) have two delightful Golden Retrievers who are the embodiment of everything good and wholesome, not just in dogs, I've decided, but in all the world. I love that you can pretty much figure a dog out immediately upon first meeting. We can take them at their appearances because we know they are absolutely honest. This in itself is rare enough in our world. Goldens exude love from every pore right from the git-go, their tails wagging so vigorously that their hind ends threaten to run away with them. The breed is famous for this friendliness, and M&Ms' dogs are veritable poster-puppies for the best in Golden Retriever personality characteristics. They play constantly and well with each other (we may tire a bit of their antics, but they surely do not!), they mind tolerably well, and they are never, ever less than glad to be next to you. In fact, most of the time they are in ecstasies, their tails wagging constantly while they wait patiently for another pat or scratch, and threatening to break things with that same tail when the affection comes.
I'm a simpleton, I suppose, but I'm really touched by this. I feel a little nudge at my elbow (or under my arm as I attempt to use the computer's mouse) and see with delight that my new best friend ever is there with a glint in her eye and a disgusting, unctuous chew toy proudly held up for my perusal. And the joy is not one bit abated the 30th time this happens! I know that the love is there regardless of whether it's me or another perfect stranger, but that doesn't make it any less love. It's entirely to the dogs' credit that they feel so amiably toward everyone, and it seems like the worthiest of role models. And it's love very nearly unconditional: you've got to do something pretty heinous to earn the scorn of a Golden Retriever (and you must commit that sin directly against the dog or it will forgive you in spite of yourself).
My wife continues to play over in India (for another three weeks), and I'm afraid I'm a bit lovelorn. And now I've found the perfect companion until her return!