Envy smarts when I read tweets like this one from @KellyGDunbar: Trying 2 type w/an 85lb AmBull (Dune) on my back-He’s sitting behind me on my chair w/his huge head on my shoulder as tho he’s reading-he missed me.
What’s to envy you ask? It’s not that Barrie has a TV in her bedroom and I don’t. It’s all that physicality! These dogs are proactive cuddle-bunnies.
A huge, wonderful part of having a dog, at least for me, is the bottomless doggie bowl of I-can’t-get-close-enough-to-you snuggles and kisses. In fact, I picked Sadie from among her littermates because she melded into my body when I held her. Surely this was a promising sign of cuddles to come. But I guess she was just tired that day. It was the first and last time she melded.
Don’t get me wrong. Sadie has her physical moments. Greetings mostly. But, after she performs her ecstatic wiggle-butt, tippy-toe dance, Sadie chills. No annoying pawing at my lap for affection. Stroke her just once when she’s resting, and she’s up and away.
Most of all, I just want Sadie to snuggle with me in bed. It’s normal for dogs to curl up with you like they did their littermates. Right?
Victoria Stilwell spends a good many TV hours trying to coax dogs out of their people’s beds. Me? I’m trying to cajole Sadie into mine.
But, she’s just not that into me.
I never fretted much over men.
When Alex smilingly said, “I have to hit the books Saturday night,” I knew that was code for “You’re history,” and not the kind he suddenly had to study. A soothing chat with my college roommates and I was pretty much good to go. All in all, I didn’t waste much time fantasizing about how things coulda been or shoulda been. I didn’t roll over and over in my mind all matter of things wrong with me, like so many numbered balls in a lotto tumbler. I’m not sure where I learned this savoir-faire. Maybe it’s hereditary. I think my mom was the same way. And, now that I’m married, that whole issue is, indeed, history.
I pine. I brood.
Sadie chooses to lie next to me (sigh) while gnawing on her beloved bone. She loves me!
I sit down on the couch and she jumps off. She loves me not.
Sadie greets me with kisses and wiggles. She’s into me!
I invite her to join me in bed. Sadie refuses. She’s not.
Seems I’ve hitched a ride on that special emotional roller-coaster reserved for people like me who are totally in love with their dog and want that love reciprocated in the way they want it! I’m up. I’m down. I’m exhilarated. I’m crushed. Why can’t Sadie just be over-the-top affectionate, like Kelly’s American Bulldog, Dune?
I know in my mind that if I don’t jump off this crazy carnival ride it’s only going to pick up speed and probably crash! But hope springs eternal for my broken heart and it keeps me hangin’ on. Maybe someday my Sadie-girl will sleep next to me, her head on my pillow.
Perhaps the problem is my high-pitched, staccato entreaty–“Sadie girl, come on, jump up! Jump up! Jump up!” punctuated by my hand slapping the bed. That does not work. At all. Maybe I’m overbearing. Maybe if I didn’t ooze desperation. What if I played hard to get? You know. Try some reverse-psychology. “Sadie, my dear, don’t even think about climbing into this bed. You are not welcome! See how you like that!” Sadie tosses me an I-couldn’t-care-less glance and saunteres out of the room, tail erect. Seems she liked that just fine.
I resorted to mental telepathy.
I laid in bed forming precise pictures in my mind. I imagined Sadie walking through the bedroom door. I saw her leaping onto the bed, lying down next to me, and resting her head on my tummy. A feeling of honey thick warmth flowed over me. Within a minute or so my eyes were startled open by Sadie actually jumping onto the bed! Just as I has visualized! She nestled next to me and extended her head across by tummy. About 30 seconds later she up and left. It wasn’t long, but it was wonderful. And, try as I might, telepathy never again worked.
Next up—frozen Gerber’s Baby Food.
I know what many of you savvy dog people are thinking: Why doesn’t she try to condition Sadie to have a positive emotional response to snuggling in bed? I considered trying this approach using her favorite treat, freeze dried liver. But the thought of liver dust clinging to my sheets was too high a price. Apparently I have limits. This was news to me. Alternatively I took frozen jars of beef baby food to bed. But, instead of employing classical conditioning, really, I just bribed her.
“Hey Sadie, see what I have?” I’d call and show her the jar of baby food. She’d fly onto the bed. Slam her body against mine. Lick the jar clean. Step off the bed, and walk out of the room. Well, it was nice while the baby food lasted.
My Twitter friend, author Edie Jarolim aka @WillMyDogHateMe, has written a book by the same name and has a new book soon to hit the bookstores–Am I Boring My Dog? These are not merely clever book titles or idle questions. I really worry about this stuff. Does Sadie hate me? Am I’m boring her to tears. Why else won’t she nestle with me?
Out of desperation, I signed Sadie and I up to meet with an animal communicator at the Psychic Horizons Center. The center is located on the ground floor of an apartment building near the downtown Boulder Pearl Street pedestrian mall. On Wednesday evenings they offer walk-in sessions, first come first served. To be sure we secured a place on the sign-up sheet, Sadie and I arrived a little early.
We got off to an inauspicious start.
Assuming we were entering an empty waiting room, I just yanked open the front door. But, the room was not empty at all. About twenty people were sitting utterly motionless in a circle with their eyes cast down staring at the floor, chanting. It took a Sadie a nanosecond to assess this scene as “weird and scary” and to cut loose a stunning display of full-throated “Rrrruf. Ruf. Ruf. Ruf. Rrrrruuuhhhh. Ruf!” and a lunge or two for good measure.
The meditation session aborted, a kindly bearded man escorted us to a “reading room” and told us to wait for the animal communication specialist. If nothing else, these people knew how to roll with the punches.
Soon Anne, our animal communicator, tapped lightly on the door, and asked if she could come in. Sadie greeted her with a more muted “Rrruff. Ruf. Ruf.” and dispensed with the lunges entirely. Anne asked me for my name and Sadie’s and how old Sadie was. Then she said, “Give me a moment to center and tune into Sadie. We’ll see what she has to say.”
Fine. Good. Sadie sniffed around and extracted Kleenexes one by one from the box on the floor.
Without prompting from me about Sadie’s standoffishness, Anne reported, “Sadie says she needs alone time and privacy. I think that’s because she’s brought some trauma into this life from past incarnations. Being as young as she is, she needs time to process her emotions, otherwise she feels overwhelmed. As she grows up, she’ll feel more confident and want to be closer.”
Stunned silence. Ah, okay.
“Sadie says she would like for you to stop worrying and give her the space she needs.”
“Is this making any sense?” Anne queried.
I have no idea how Anne received her information or where she got it from. Maybe it was just dumb luck that she was so spot on. And, I’m not sure what I think about reincarnation. But, no matter. From that moment on, I surrendered. I stepped off the roller coaster.
Taking what Anne said at face value, Sadie’s behavior began to make more sense to me. I found myself feeling more empathy for her and feeling a little less sorry for myself. I began to recast myself from the role of “unrequited lover” to that of “spiritual friend.” Maybe I can help Sadie by both giving her the space she needs and keeping the door open for connection when she wants it.
So, for bedtime, Sadie made it clear that she wants her own blankie with her own pillow on her own sofa in her own room. And, that’s exactly what she has.
I also discovered that placing a pillow in the middle of the couch in the den allows Sadie to be close without being too close. The pillow is sort of a friendly fence. Every now and then, while I’m sitting at one end of the sofa and Sadie is laying at the other, she nestles her head into the pillow inches from my arm. That is so sweet. Sometimes I can’t resist stroking her velvet cheek. Most of the time, lately, she doesn’t budge.
Of course, I still long for cuddles, and, occasionally, Sadie surprises me. Just the other night I was sitting on the floor resting my back against the couch watching It’s Me Or The Dog. Little Ms. Sadie settled down on her doggie bed next to me and ever so lightly rested her head on my arm. Heaven! I didn’t dare move for the whole hour.
And, envy still stings when I read tweets about doggie snuggles or see Sadie’s friends lean against and nuzzle their moms and dads.
Funny, I’m just now remembering something I learned over a decade ago at a Buddhist meditation retreat (and, soon forgot in the turmoil of everyday life). Sympathetic Joy—taking pleasure in the joy of others and wishing them even more joy! Now, if that’s not an antidote to envy, I don’t know what is.
That Sadie girl of mine. She certainly has life lessons up her paw for me. I’m reminded of something I heard, I forget from whom—We don’t get the dogs we want, we get the dogs we need. And, might I add—We get the dogs who need us.