The dog is your teacher

This is my pup Linda (also affectionately known as Bubba. I’m not sure why, she just looks like a Bubba to me).

Although if you ask her, Linda would probably tell you that, more accurately, I am her human; I belong to her, she owns me, not the other way around.

I rescued Linda a few years ago after she was surrendered by her previous humans. I’m not entirely sure about the circumstances of her home of origin, but I suspect some serious abuse and mistreatment, which took lots of love, and patience, and many months to overcome.

Linda and I must be soul mates, because almost immediately upon meeting we settled into a really nice groove, as if we’ve been doing the human/dog thing together forever. Linda tells me when she’s hungry (all the time!), in need of a walk (once a day when it’s cold, and six times a day when it’s nice out), or feeling insanely maniacally playful (about ten minutes a day). The rest of the time she sleeps, snoring loudly, basically oblivious to my existence. 

She purrs like a cat when she’s happy, which sounds more like a slow rumbling snort, and loves curling up next to me (or on top of me) on pretty much any comfortable surface I happen to occupy. If no space is available, she’ll gladly plop all 25lbs of doggie goodness on my lap, and bury her face in my stomach. As I said, I belong to her, and everyone knows it. I talk to her all the time, and try to be responsive to her whenever she asks for my attention.

She is a ball of love and affection; who is always in a good mood despite her sad eyes and wrinkled face. She also has tons of weird medical issues, about which she is mostly a good sport.

The thing about Linda is that she is unapologetically stubborn, and in this house she gets away with it every single time. Whenever we go for walks, it’s her chosen path or nothing. We walk at her pace, zig zagging from side to side, making sure to sniff everything available for sniffing, or else she will sit down in protest. She categorically refuses to go out in rain or snow, and if she gets even the smallest whiff of moisture from the safety of the lobby, she turns around immediately to go back upstairs. She will then hold her bowels for a scary long time if necessary.

Out of spite, she will not come when I call her (unless food is being offered, and even that is not always a certainty). She will not perform a single command, unless of course she feels like it, but not without letting me know how offended she is that I would dare command her to do something. She gets pretty much anything she wants, on account of irresistible cuteness. I’d take responsibility and admit that she’s spoiled, except she’s been this way from day one. I didn’t really have much choice but to comply. I think she accurately senses that I have zero boundaries and 100% sacrificing when it comes to her, and she is more than happy to take advantage of that unfortunate situation. 

If you can’t tell thus far, I’m head over heels in love with her (and very very attached to her). I am that person, you know the one I mean, the weirdo who, at the mere mention of dogs at a social function, will whip out her phone, and hold you captive for ten minutes showing you a million pictures of adorable little Linda. I know I have a problem, but I love and accept myself this way. If you don’t love and accept this about me, then that’s your problem. 🙂

Some time ago, after a particularly difficult day, Linda and I climbed into bed. She usually gets first pick of which side of the bed she’s going to sleep on, and I’m left to contort myself around her. If I’m lucky, I get half the blanket and just enough room to stretch one leg out fully…

On this night though, she waited for me to lie down, and she just nestled by my side with her head in my armpit. Within a few minutes I was lost in thought, and Linda was sound asleep, snoring sweetly.

I was going over some of the more stressful events of the day, and before I knew what was happening, my thoughts dragged me unaware into deep dark fear territory. I fell helplessly down some kind of rabbit-hole into a terrible anxiety producing spiral of what-ifs. I am very very good at imagining the worst kinds of what-ifs, and completely scaring the crap out of myself, and anyone else who is privy to the madness. I’ve learned how to stop doing this to myself, and not to go down those vicious spirals anymore. But this one seemed to catch me off guard, and I was hooked in. Once that happens, extracting myself can be very difficult. 

As the scenarios in my head got worse and worse, Linda’s snoring got louder and louder. At one point I thought to myself, “Ugh. Her snoring is really distracting me…,” but she wouldn’t stop. In fact, it just kept getting louder. Then, feeling myself getting slightly annoyed, I looked at her and thought “Seriously? Is that really necessary? At this rate, you’re gonna wake the neighbors.

Then… a moment of clarity!

Linda was unwittingly trying to bring me back to the present. She was interrupting my madness on purpose. She was reminding me that I’m here, in this moment, and I’m just fine. No need to create terrifying stories right now. She was pulling me out of the rabbit-hole and back to now. Now. Now. Now. The magical beautiful present moment. The only reality we ever really have.

The recognition of it all made me laugh out loud as the fear and anxiety started melting away. I focused on nothing but her snoring for a few minutes, and drifted soundly off to a peaceful sleep.