Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Night Reflections

So dogs can have a vocabulary, upwards of 200 words researchers tell us. Once they master keyboarding (it's just a matter of time), we can expect a flood of memoirs with titles like, "Nurture Your Inner Puppy" and "Down Boy: How To Keep Humans Off of Your Sofa."
Our dog, she should write how-tos. She enjoys life more than I do, I can tell. Rooting and growling, rolling in the grass, she doesn't do things in half measure. The way she greets us whenever we come home would make for a great opening chapter.
Her treatise, "A Dog's Guide to Greeting" would bluntly state that human beings inexplicably take their loved ones for granted. Members of our species offer merely a nod or a rather nonchalant hello to the home-comer, where as a dog rushes the door and pointedly instructs others in the house to take note of the momentous event.
But each bark becomes more plaintive as the dog tries to comprehend why you are still stirring in that bowl, peering into the recipe book; why your daughter is so entranced by that CD; and why your husband is sprawled in that recliner, not looking up from the T.V.
"LOOK! LOOK! LOOK WHO IT IS!!" the dog is crying, searching for someone-anyone-who will seem to notice.
Poor dog. Imagine the scene from her point of view: the mighty attempt to rouse, the chiding, the pleading-all to no effect. "Look who has just walked in the door! LOOK! LOOK! Don't say anything, okay, but at least look!" The humans she loves with a devotion beyond our ken just tell her to pipe down, to lie down, to go away. She does, at last, with a sidelong glance-a creature chagrined.It's true, she barks and goes into her ritual paroxysms of joy even when one of us returns from a brief trip away, say to the grocery store or hardware store. But she definitely understands time's passage. When one of us comes in after being gone for an hour, she will only briefly importune others to join in her glee, but after long trips away from home, I return something like a god, or at least a hero from some far-flung battle.
Staggered by this apparition before her, she is beyond joy. It's as if I returned from the dead. Her body wiggles, as usual, as her tail swings, but she's hesitant to approach. When she allows herself to believe  really I am back, she will jump up, once or even twice, and put her paws lightly on my chest, as if to test my tangible presence.
My family? Yes, they're happy I'm home, too. My younger daughter is still of an age to cling to me, and our teenage daughter greets me brightly-as she passes. My wife is relieved I'm back(for one thing, to walk the dog).
But the dog and I share a secret understanding, one our species would rather not acknowledge: I might not have come back...It's good I did.
We should all be so lucky to be greeted this way-not always, but on occasion. Once in a while wiggle for me, and I will for you. Rise up and put your paws somewhere near my heart.
                                                                                  Kirk Swearingen

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  1. Replies
    1. This was actually in our church bulletin some years ago. It made me think a bit about not taking even the simpliest thing, like my husband coming in the door, for granted.

  2. No and come obviously aren't in my dog Alf's 200 word reach.

    1. One day I was waiting for the train and I watched as a woman leaned out the window of her apartment to call her dog. The dog was sitting around the corner where she could not see him. She called and called, he sat. Finally she came down the stairs, saw the dog and actually asked the dog, why didn't you come? It was great entertainment for me to watch the two of them.

  3. Beautiful post and had me giggling about my furry children and their antics.