This morning at 5:30 AM I passed another dog owner walking his dogs. “It’s National Dog Day!” I yelled across the street at him. He chuckled, and I ran on. It was 62 degrees this morning, and I enjoyed my run immensely. Even Ashok seemed to be pretty happy with running in the less humid air. On these first days when the humidity dies down, she jumps and bites the air when she walks outside.
I wasn’t born a dog person. I’m a cat person. But, I’ve learned to be a dog person. When I have friends come to stay with me that are dog people, Ashok is noticeably different. She cuddles and jumps in their lap. I always look at them and wonder why she’s not like that with me, but I know that she’s not like that with me because I’m not like that with her. The most amazing thing about her is that she reads people so much better than I can.
A few years ago in Memphis, I was sitting in the waiting room with my friend Elizabeth who also had an appointment with my acupuncturist that night. Ashok always came with me to acupuncture because Marlene is a dog person, and she loved seeing Ashok. Marlene walked in, and Ashok immediately jumped up and was pouncing on her. Marlene bent down and was tussling with her and talking in that ‘doggy’ high-pitched voice. While this excitement was going on, and Ashok was uncharacteristically going nuts, a patient walked out of the treatment room.
She turned toward the chairs, and Ashok ran over there to her. About the time she got there, I noticed that the woman was moving very slowly – as if she was hurt or very, very old. I was afraid that Ashok would pounce on her since she was in that state of excitement that she gets around dog people. The woman reached her hand ever so slowly toward Ashok’s nose, and Ashok immediately sat quietly and did not move. She let the woman touch her, and she never once moved. I looked at Elizabeth and said, “Did you see that?” She said, “Wow. That was amazing.”
It’s moments like those when I’m most happy I have a dog. She does the same thing when a throng of kids comes up to pet her. No matter how excited and crazy they are – pulling her tail and ears – she sits and lets them do whatever they want to her. It’s so cute. She’s not the same with other dogs, though. She turns into Cujo. She will get used to them given a little time, but it’s one of the things I hate about having this dog – her reaction to other dogs. I guess it comes from her being a rescue and being in a single dog household, but it drives me crazy.
Things I’ve learned by having a dog:
I actually don’t think I’ll ever get another dog. I got Ashok for protection and as a companion for running and camping. But, I may be wrong. Who knows what I’ll feel like after she’s gone, and I no longer have that sweet face looking up to me. I had one dog before her. His name was Arf. Arf was more devoted to himself than me, but I took him everywhere. He was a pocket dog – a Pomeranian, and he was adorable. He also had a horrible problem eating shoes. He ate my shoes, my husband’s shoes, our guest’s shoes… he never outgrew it.
So, today, I’ll celebrate National Dog Day and celebrate both of my dogs. I hope you’ll celebrate yours in some way. And, if you don’t have one – well, go get one. It might change who you are.