We all know the virtues of a good dog. Except for cat people, that is. They know the…whatever….that a good cat has.
I’m not quite sure exactly where this post is going. I think families and dogs go hand in hand. As I write this now, the snow is falling outside. The faucets are dripping. I’m sitting in bed as winter wears on outside my windows. My wife’s Schnauzer-Chihuahua mix is gnawing on his leg a scant few inches from my leg and my Mastiff is laying just outside the open bedroom door on a Disney princess carpet my daughters stained with so much mermaid slime they don’t want it anymore.
Mermaid slime is not a euphemism. Mermaid slime is pink glittery slime we got them for Christmas. In case anyone was confused.
Dogs and winter go together as much as dogs and families do, I think. There’s something comforting about a sleeping dog when winter rages mere inches away.
I think this post may be more about winter than anything else. It is a strange idea to me that a foot or two of sheet rock and insulation are all that separate us from frostbite. I like that idea. The wind howls and I can hear it. I can see the trees bend and sway. But I am warm. I can see the snow falling. I can watch it pile up in drifts in the corners of the yard. I can’t catch it on my tongue of touch it and loose feeling in my fingertips. I am in the midst of the storm, untouched by it. This feeling intrigues me. It reminds me of how I felt in a tent or fort when I was a kid. I was outdoors, yet separated from the outdoors. I like to picture in my mind a nearly blinding snowstorm in the midst of which we see a faint glow. As we sweep in closer and the glow grows brighter, warmer, we see that it is a single bulb in a single window of a small house. As we peek in the window we see perhaps a family playing a board game. Of course, in my fantasy, a large dog lays beside the couch, passively spending time with the family. Or perhaps we see someone at a typewriter. Sitting at it, tapping away on a novel, is a stereo-typical novelist. If it is a man, perhaps there is a glass of brandy on a coaster and a cigar fuming in an ashtray. If it is a woman, the brandy is wine and the cigar is, well, whatever the feminine version of that is. Chocolate, maybe. And in my fantasy, a dog is present. Perhaps he is sitting on his haunches, panting despite the blaring cold outside the window, thumping his tail lazily on the floor. Maybe she lays curled around her person’s feet, warming them, inspiring the writer to pen (or tap out, in these modern times) a story of charity, love and warmth.
I went skiing once and fell so many times that at the end, my eyelids were weighted down by little balls of ice on my lashes. I had to stumble into the lodge and let my lashes thaw so I could see. A fire roared and a large dog lay in front of it. The sight of the dog (once I could see again) comforted me more than the fire did.
To sum all this up, I’ll say this. The cold loneliness of winter can be offset by a good dog. The snoring of my English Mastiff lulls me to sleep when it is cold out. I cannot feel it, but I know it is there and her normally irritating attempts to breathe comfort me. When family is absent or bitter cold lays upon the land, inches away, trying its hardest to get to you despite your electric blankets, space heaters, or cherished significant other laying next to you, a dog is necessary.
A dog is family when no family can be found. A dog is warmth when the world seeks to place you into cryogenic storage.
A dog is necessary.
I bid you adieu…and a don’t.
Adieu…consider befriending a dog. ‘Tis a wondrous thing.
A don’t…give up cats if they are your preference. Unconditional love is great wherever you find it.