Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April 6, 2010 - The Tug


My it's been busy around here lately!  Orville came back, Sherman joined the inmates, and now there's Ferragamo, our newest foster.  Fresh from a kill-shelter where he was just about out of time, Ferragamo is a Bugg - half pug and half Boston Terrier.  He just arrived yesterday, so he's still settling in and getting used to everybody.  

He's not nearly as "possessed" as those eyes look - just pug eyes in a Boston skull combined with some playtime excitement.  He's very sweet, smart and fun, quite a pleasant little fellow to have around. Needs a snip and a little work on walking with a leash and he'll be ready to make someone a very fine companion.

Meanwhile, all these dogs around got me thinking about The Tug.  If you've ever loved an animal, you know exactly what I'm talking about - that tight little pull in the middle of your chest when you look at a beloved pet and for one, brief moment see him exactly as he is. Not as a pet, or a pest, or a child or therapist or worker or any of the other things we expect them to be, but just as he is.  An innocent, non-human soul in a fur-covered (or feather covered or scale covered) body.  Loving you because that's his nature, depending on you totally because that's his fate, asking only love and kindness in return, but accepting whatever he gets. 

We probably, most of us, don't think about it too hard or too often, but our pets are totally, completely dependent upon us.  They have only what we give them, whether it be luxuries like treats and toys, or basics like food and shelter.  They have little to no choice in who takes them in, yet they love us with all their little hearts once they're in.  It's an awesome responsibility, one far too many people take far too lightly, and one that real pet lovers accept on such a level that it's rarely consciously considered.

The Tug happens where real love, more than you thought you could feel for any other creature save maybe a spouse or child, intersects with a flicker of the realization of how much you mean to them.  I look down and see Sammie, sleeping beside my desk.  He sleeps deeply, in perfect trust that he is safe and protected here, that he doesn't have to sleep the light sleep of potential prey.  He's not prowling for food, because he's secure it will be provided, perhaps later than he'd like some days, but it will.  He snuggles next to Loki, without feeling jealous or competitive, because he's learned that time and money may be short now and then, but there's always enough love to go around and he is, indeed, loved.  

He briefly wakes, probably feeling me looking at him, looks up at me with sleepy brown eyes, happy to find me near, and resumes his nap.  And I feel it. The Tug.  The twinge in the chest, the sting in the eyes, the momentary urge to just sweep him up, hug him close and maybe cry a little into his fur.  Just because he's him.  Just a little dog named Sammie, who has decided, doG knows why, that I am his person and that, pretty much no matter what I do, where I go, how broke or rich I am, how spiffy or unkempt I may be, or how happy or cranky I may be, that I'm okay with him and he wants to be with me.  

They all do it to me at different times, usually when I'm doing something else and not paying much attention.  When Spencer, quiet and gentlemanly and sometimes crowded out in the flurry of more assertive attention-seekers, looks up at me from under my desk, where he's using my foot as a pillow.  Sherman, when I try to put on a sock and he tunnels under my arm and peers into my face, wanting a rub right that minute. I may start to get annoyed at the interruption, but then it hits me.  He's not an "interruption," he's a dog, and he wants to spend some time with me. So I stop for a moment to coo at him and rub his ears.  There will always be more socks.  There will always be more work to be done, but I have learned too dearly that there will not always be more Sherman.  

I dunno. Maybe I'm reading too much into it. I'm sure some psychiatrist could spend page after page going on about brain chemicals and wiring and conditioning and socialization to explain The Tug.  I tend to wonder if maybe it's a reminder from the Creator or from the Universe or from my subconscious or from whomever, that we humans seek answers. We seek spiritual truths.  We look for inspiration, or love, or forgiveness.  Maybe The Tug is a reminder that most of what we say we seek is right there, right in front of us, often overlooked or underestimated, but right there.  The answers to life, the universe and everything are sitting around us, watching us, quietly shedding on our carpets, waiting for us to feel The Tug and pay attention.

Y'all take care now.