One of my very favorite things in the world is that I have been adopted by a sweet, loving, utterly crazy dog. She is a Neapolitan mastiff who belongs to my sweetheart’s brother, A. A is never home–he has work, school, a new girlfriend–and she was terribly lonely, and I took over feeding her and giving her a treat every night and in that way, I won her heart. When I come into the house, she is so excited to see me that her entire back end wags and her tiny little tail goes whap whap whap whap . She rubs up against me and weaves around my legs and between my knees like she is a cat, except she’s almost as tall as my waist and weighs a hundred pounds, so it works out rather less well than it does for a cat.
She is neurotic, anxious, and insecure. She has no idea what size she is, a drooling problem, a thing for sugar and for snuggling. She is clumsy as hell, tends to fall over, gets jealous and confused, often doesn’t understand what’s going on, and is kind of dopey. She and I have so much in common, you see, that I cannot help but adore her and want to be good to her. It is a good thing for me, that she loves me so much. I have never been loved in such an unconditional way by a dog before, and I had no idea that it was so very awesome.
For most of the day–hours and hours–she is left alone in the house, and she often gets bored, or her bladder is full to bursting or she’s gotten into the garbage and she has an accident on the floor and when you walk in the door, you know that she is so ashamed and embarrassed and sorry and wishes you wouldn’t look at her like that because she really didn’t mean to. When I was working in an office, there was not much I could do. Now I am home every day, in my underpants, staring at my laptop. I walk from the kitchen to the bathroom and then back to the living room. Some days–the cold days–I don’t even get out of bed. I reach over the side and pick up my laptop and I work from a cocoon of blankets, some of them electric. And I was going slowly mad, getting bored, and it is a wonder I did not have an accident on the floor.
The solution was obvious, and elegant, and has become a daily routine. I work, I shower, I head out the door and over to the house to pick up my crazy dog. I say, “Do you want to go for a walk?” and she snaps to attention, quivers, crouches, leaps, cannot contain her joy–she is the luckiest dog in the world, she wants me to know. She is so happy. She sits for the leash, and she trots outside, hops into the car. She does not ride well in the car. She still tries to sit on my lap while we’re driving, which works out poorly for everyone. But once we’re there, at the golf course that sits at the base of the mountain, she explodes from the car and streaks across the snow, a black comet against a field of white. Then she stops to poop. And then she circles around to me, rushes at me and around me and I break into a run, and we are both running in the cold, across the field of snow, bursting through the trees and skidding down the hill. She is spinning and huffing and digging her face in the snow and she dances around me, and we are running again, and neither of us wants to ever go back home.