On New Love, Doggy Style

When I first began to talk seriously about getting a dog, not a few friends commented that they could clearly imagine my blog shifting its focus from interactions with men to those with dogs.

I always replied that–yeah, I could, too.

It’s been two days since Bonita (nicknames: Bon Bon, Nita; full name: Bonita Appelbum; not her name: Bonnie) arrived, though, and I am grasping for ways to make our relationship interesting.

I could tell you how mellow she is, how she likes to lick faces and sleep in the chair beside my bed (the first night she followed me when I got up to go to the bathroom; last night she merely perked up). I could tell you how awesome she is in the car, how she hardly makes a sound and loves to have her tender post-partum belly massaged.

Or that I have never been made to feel so triumphant by another creature’s poop.

But, do you really care? Really you just want to cuddle with her yourself and have her lick your face. (If you don’t, I can’t help you.)

The thing, I guess, about uncomplicated, unconditional love is that it’s highly uninteresting.

I suppose ours hasn’t been entirely without complication, though.

The first night I brought her home a few friends came over for dinner. After the meal we lounged around the living room and Nita snuggled up with me in one of our big cushy living room chairs.

“Look how happy she is!” my friend J remarked.

“Do you think?!” I asked, in utmost sincerity. The sound of her tail thumping took on a higher pitch as everyone stared at me, perplexed.

“Do you see her tail?” J asked. “She loves you! She was in a shelter this morning!”

By now I think I’ve grown confident that little Bon Bon is happy to be home with me. But the emotional oddity of claiming her is something I didn’t anticipate.

It wasn’t totally love at first sight. She’s beautiful, but she’s got the kind of good looks that take a second to sink in. And she was so excited to have a visitor that I worried, initially, about her temperament being too hyper.

But then I rolled around with her, played tug and scratched her tummy; I quizzed the staff about her behavior and they conceded that her only flaw was an occasional tendency to chew the end of her canvas leash. And, as I told them, I couldn’t think of any good reason not to adopt her.

It was a funny feeling, though, signing that paperwork while she napped, oblivious, back in her room (yes, she had a room). I had chosen her; shouldn’t she have to choose me?

Well, obviously, no. And as much as I’m sure it’s better for her to have a house and (two!) mommies than it is to chill at the Humane Society–however cush that place is, and I must say it is pretty nice–there’s always some trauma in adjusting to a new place. There is for everyone–even those of us who haven’t spent an unknown period of time inhabiting animal shelters.

So as sweet as her immediate attachment was, I hesitated to accept it as genuine.

I think I’m over it. As I type, she’s happily sprawled on the office bed, napping. When I get up, she’ll follow me into the kitchen and I’ll tell her to sit ten-to-fifteen times and when, with a little nudging, she finally does, I’ll give her a training treat in the form of Liver Bacon Biscotti. I don’t treat myself to biscotti. The dog’s life ain’t so bad.

It remains to be seen how her treatment will compare with the men I encounter. But parallels have already begun to emerge.

At dinner the other night my friend D asked whether I was going to let her sleep in my bed with me.

“No,” I told him. “At the shelter they told me not to.”

“Why?” he asked.

“Because,” I said. “I’ve got to set boundaries. If I let her stay in my bed, she won’t respect me.”

Lesson: learned. Though I’m not sure future dates will fit, as she does so snugly, in my bedroom chair.

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3 Comments

Filed under Love Life

3 responses to “On New Love, Doggy Style

  1. Clarence

    I understand your need to analyze many things about relationships but, come on, she’s a dog, your pet, enjoy her for what she is. You feed her, walk her and give her a nice place to sleep and she will give you unconditional love…how better could that be?

  2. I never understood why they say not to let your dog sleep with you. I’ve slept with mine for 4 years and lately he’s been too hot to get into bed, and I miss him when he isn’t there. My boyfriend loves it too. So it gets crowded with a 80 lb pup on the bed (who happens to sleep wrapped around my pillow) but it’s ultimate intimacy. My dog respects me. We communicate with each other and usually he listens. The parallel with men is this sense of communication. I can’t wait to hear how this unfolds! Getting my dog changed my life for the better!

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