I’ve given several speeches lately about why we love our dogs so much, an issue that I think deserves more attention than it gets. Given that Valentine’s Day is coming up, it seems appropriate to combine my speculations about our bond with our dogs with a valentine to one of my favorite guys.
Here’s to you Willie boy, an unapologetically mushy but thoughtful ode to why I love you so much:
I love you because the feel and smell of your fur this morning somehow went right to the center of my being and made me feel centered and full and happy.
I love you because even though I groused about putting on multiple layers of clothing, once you got me outside it was beautiful, even if it was 4 below. We stood still for a moment, and breathed in the clear air, exchanging breaths with the dark, silent columns of trees standing sentinel behind us.
I love you because you remind me that my “reality” is just that, mine, and is only one of the many realities in existence. (But I love that you and I are both beginning to label the floppy, brown thing as “Pony.” Thanks for humoring me.)
I love you because it makes me happy to look at you, even if I do call you “Spaniel Face” because your ears didn’t read the chapter on appropriate Border Collie ear structure.
I love you because you can’t talk, and that makes our connection simpler and more primal than my connections with my own species.
I love you because you need me, even if that isn’t the best of motivations.
I love you because you share my work ethic, and so clearly try so hard to do your best.
I love you because although you came as a puppy who saw the world as a frightening and dangerous place, you are still overjoyed that yes, yes, yes indeed, there are an endless number of people in it who would be happy to throw your toy or rub your belly.
I love you because your expressions of emotion are so similar to those of my own, and that makes it so much easier to feel like we are experiencing the world together.
I love you because last week when we came home from Austin, you ran between Jim and I, eyes shining, leaping and twirling, licking our faces and rubbing against us, unable to contain your happiness that we were all together again. I am sorry I can’t leap and twirl as well as you can, but then, I am much older than you. And really, it’s not that much fun to for us to use our tongues to lick your fur. Sorry.
And last, but of course never least, I love you because for some reason, undeserved I’m sure, you appear to adore me. Of course, you love Jim as much or even more, but then, that’s just an example of knowing a truly good person when you see one.
I’d love to hear a valentine you might want to write to your dog . . . I’ll begin my day by savoring them. How sweet that will be.
Here’s my Willie boy, a photo I’ve always loved when there was color still on the ground.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: It was 15 below Fahrenheit Thursday morning, only 4 below this morning. But it’s supposed to warm up, and I’m so glad. Not just because it’ll be nice to be able to walk outside without 20 pounds of clothing on (I had to sleep with TWO pairs of socks on last night for heaven’s sake), but because the deep snow will melt and we’ll finally be able to work sheep again. I did well with my 2011 commitment to work Willie off the farm and/or with people watching in early January, but that’s been shut down of late because of the snow. We’re going to visit some friends in Iowa tomorrow who have sheep and we’re hoping the snow there will be low enough to be able to work a little bit anyway.
Willie is doing great on learning his toys by name by the way! I’ll write more about this next week (and post another video), but he can pick Pony and Scorch out of a group of 8 to 10 objects reliably. I wouldn’t say 100%, but close. I’m still not sure though exactly how he has them categorized in his mind. His biggest confusion is between the two of them — if I put them side by side and ask for one, he looks more confused than if I have them in a group of toys. I’ll write more soon, but we’re making progress and having a great time doing it.
It’s a busy busy time, I’m working hard with Karen London on the booklet for adopting older dogs, lots of speeches, my UW course, I’m about to (okay, finally!) get a Facebook page and we’re finalizing arrangements for our killer seminar in Madison this October. Stay tuned, enjoy the weekend, and kiss your dog(s) for me. Just try to keep the hair out of your mouth . . .