I Love You Like I Love My Dog: Honestly

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 4.824% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

My dog Shasta is an adorable black-eared package of joy.  When I wake up in the morning, she’s dancing at my feet, ready to go outside and get at the world.  When I’m bored, there is no better amusement than seeing her bright black eyes, asking, “Wanna play?  You wanna play?”  And if there’s a better expression of joy than watching her bolt after her squeaky monkey, I do not know of it.
Shasta is also one shallow goddamned dog.
All Shasta wants is to play.  She will play with anyone; she’s gone and lived at our friends’ houses for weeks and never expressed concern that Mommy and Daddy weren’t there.  She does not care how you’re feeling; if you crawled in through the front door with shattered knees, weeping because the mobsters slaughtered your family, Shasta would prance around you wondering why you weren’t tussling with her.
I’ve heard of dogs who know when their owners are depressed, curling up next to them and bumping them with their heads to try to carry them out of their misery.  Shasta is a self-centered dog, if such a thing can be said; when we were immobilized with grief, Shasta jumped on the couch to lick our face.  And we thought Oh, she’s maturing, all this play-play-play is just because she’s a puppy, she’s learning to read our moods at last!
Then, once she’d licked the last of the tasty tasty salt off our cheeks, she pranced off.
Thing is, I’ve told people that Shasta doesn’t care much about us.  They treat me as though I must have gotten this wrong: “No, Ferrett,” they say with deep concern.  “She’s your dog!  Of course she loves you!  How can you say that?”
No.  She loves what I do for her, and probably has some limited affection for me, but she mostly loves it when I toss monkey.
And that’s okay.
Thing is, we’ve been trained as a society to see “finding fault” as “lack of love.”  If you love someone, you shouldn’t critique them – you should just love them!
Problem is, that separates the concept of “love” from the concept of “analysis.”
When you love something, you’re not supposed to find flaws in them!  Love is a form of anesthesia!  You’re supposed to just trust-fall into your partner’s sweet embrace – and if you fall on the floor a couple of times because he went to the store for a smoke, well, you just gotta trust-fall *harder*!
And you can see people getting nervous if we’re discussing my dog and her inability to read our emotions comes up.  They start twitching, looking at Shasta nervously, as if the fact that I’ve noticed something she doesn’t do is a sign that maybe I secretly hate this hound.
But no!  It’s entirely possible for me to be honest about what she gives me and still love her a fuck of a lot.  (Certainly enough to walk her three times a day in the snow.)
In fact, that honesty about what she does for me makes our experience better.  I don’t expect her to provide solace when I’m down.  She’s the happy-fun dog, my go-to dog when I feel like wrasslin’ a cute puppy  – and quite often, I can cheer myself up by playing with her, regardless of whether she knows she’s doing this or not.
And I don’t blame her for being shallow – she’s a dog, for God’s sake!  I wasn’t expecting a Jungian analysis of Shakespeare from her.  But even were she a human, some of my friends and lovers have serious flaws.  Doesn’t make ’em bad people – but Lord knows my friend G gets uncomfortable whenever things turn serious, and J doesn’t get my polyamorous lifestyle, and oh God let’s not discuss what happens when we make plans with E, who’s a great buddy but not someone to rely on.
It is okay to analyze your friends and figure out what they’re not good at.  It does not lessen your affection; in fact, I see it as being a deeper love.  You’re not shoving your head in the ground and ignoring the less-lovable bits of them – you’re looking those parts straight in the eye and going “You are wayyyyy too prone to go off on political rants, my love, and yet still I adore you.”
Being honest actually makes your life run a lot easier.  You don’t trust-fall into people who aren’t good at catching.
And while yeah, it’d be nicer if she was more aware of our moods, that doesn’t mean that she’s not perfect for me on most days when I get up and that adorable doggy face is going, “WHAT EXCITING ADVENTURE WILL YOU LEAD ME ON NOW, FERRETT?”
The exciting adventure is a ball.  She’s not going to be the kind of dog who curls up next to me and cuddles; the instant I touch this dog, she sees an opportunity to play.
Which is fine.  When I want to play, I get Shasta.  When I want emotional support, I go to my wife.
They’re both awesome, even if Gini refuses to fetch.

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