1) the state of my hair
2) the state of our laundry
3) the state of the refrigerator
4) the state of my wallet
It also means that bad luck seems to follow me (and my hair), even when I leave the state we call home. For example, today at work the rear tire on my Subaru spontaneously exploded. And then our mechanic said he wouldn’t be able to work on it for a few days because he just broke his finger!
Anyway, back to the point. When I am in a funk, I don’t like to read nonfiction books. I’d rather play Scrabble or eat Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream or crack open a Swedish mystery novel.
So, when we got our puppy Cody, Marcia took it upon herself to read several doggie books for us. They ranged from beautiful personal stories by authors we know (Mark Doty’s Dog Years) to old favorites that have been updated (The Monks of New Skete: Divine Canine) to new ones that our trainer recommended (Patricia McConnell’s The Other End of the Leash).
Although Marcia left these books sprawled about in opportune locations such as my bedside table, my desk, and the bathroom magazine rack, she eventually realized that I had not touched them.
So, Marcia did what anyone with a Partner-in-Funk would do: she grabbed her highlighter and went to town. Yes, she actually marked in pink and yellow for me every important passage I need to read in The Other End of the Leash to make life with Cody happy and pleasurable. Then she plopped the book on my lap.
One of the sections that Marcia (and through her, I) found particularly interesting deals with a human’s need for ventral-to-ventral contact. McConnell argues that humans find tremendous pleasure in relating chest-to-chest. Like our primate relatives, we also enjoy holding hands, kissing, and snuggling. The writer explains that this need for touch in us is powerful—it can actually lower our heat rate and blood pressure.
She says that young girls are particularly fond of hugging things to their chests— dolls, dogs, you name it—and so far, we are finding this to be SO true. Pearl and Carrie constantly fling their arms around Cody’s neck to hug him—tightly, furiously, as if he is their younger brother preparing to head off to boarding school or some foreign war.
The problem, according to McConnell, is that dogs really don’t like to be hugged. Many don’t even like the way we pet them. She even argues that some dogs don’t obey the “come” command because they don’t want to be patted on the head!
Since reading (the highlighted passages of) this book and
studying Cody’s responses to us, I’ve become much more aware of his body
language and ours. I’m learning to
temper some of my natural tendencies and think about Cody from a canine’s
I’m even learning a little about myself. Cody reminds me to enjoy each breeze, try new foods, and sleep with abandon. Have your dogs (or other pets) taught you anything important?