One of the interesting side effects of self-isolation was “celebrated” in an interesting article I came across on Facebook. Its title is “Nation’s dogs fucking loving whatever’s going on right now,” and you can find it here. I know our dog, Angel, is used to spending significant times either alone, or without the person who gives her the most treats . . . and that time is generally spent sleeping or moping around the house.
Upon our arrival back at home, whether we were gone 10 minutes of 10 hours, her excitement is temporarily boundless. That is no longer happening, as we’re seldom out of the house. In fact, the only one who’s left the house for the past week (at least) has been me. I take that back. I believe my wife went out one evening to pick up a papaya salad at her favorite Thai restaurant. That’s it.
As an aside . . . a secondary effect of thinking about how our animals are dealing with this, though I’ve been noticing it recently; i.e. before the corona virus changed everything, I’ve come to realize the role our pets play for many of us. Certainly, with respect to dogs, this is my experience. I’ll try to explain.
My last dog had to be put to sleep before he was very old. He was a Rottweiler and had been gifted to me by a girlfriend who couldn’t handle him. His name was Heinse . . . Kavon Heinse of Stoneflower, to be exact. The appellation “Stoneflower” came from Stoneflower Productions, Sly Stone’s company. My girlfriend’s father was the business manager for Sly and the Family Stone, and Sly had given Heinse to him, but he was getting divorced and didn’t want the responsibility.
Heinse was an interesting dog. Powerful and resolute, he also chased shadows and stomped ants. He would sit under a tree and wait for birds to fly out of it so he could chase their shadows on the ground. Once, on the beach at Malibu, he confounded a couple of guys tossing a football. They took a while to figure out he wasn’t chasing the ball. He could smell ants and would rear up and stomp on them when encountered. He was a wonderful companion and putting him down was not easy for me. In fact, I had numerous cats, but never another dog until about three years ago. I lived dogless for well over thirty years.
Angel entered our lives about three years ago. The picture above was taken shortly after we rescued her. Her arrival was somewhat serendipitous, and I had precious little to do with it, other than responding to my wife’s text where she sent me a picture of her with a couple of question marks. I wasn’t ready to take on the extra expense, but I’m a sucker for a face like that and I said “OK.”
So . . . she came into our lives when our oldest, Aimee, was going on 16 years old. What’s significant about it, and what has caused me to think about how we relate to our pets (especially dogs) is that was right about the time I could no longer hug Aimee or smother her with kisses. Up until then, I was able to shower her with affection, which I loved doing. She was no longer interested, understandable—I was once a teenager and, even though it was several lifetimes ago, I remember most of what it was like.
Now I use Angel to shower my affection on, though she was a bit wary of me at the beginning. I think she interpreted my kissing her snout as a dominance display; at least at first. I was pretty sure I could interpret the look on her face when I would hug and kiss her as one of moderate concern, perhaps a little distrust. This, of course, is no longer the case. She now serves as my substitute affection sponge and, as long as I give her the occasional treat, we’re good . . . and I’m content.