We have three dogs and two cats – making us just a few animals short of starring in our own episode of “Hoarders,” I know. If you have pets you know and love the unconditional love they offer; in my opinion, the maxim “Make me the kind of person my dog thinks I am” is a noble goal. I think everyone should know the love of a good dog at least once in their life (because you couldn’t help but adopt another one once you’ve experienced that). Our animals each have distinct personalities, and for the last week my dogs have taken on “Operation Comfort” in their own unique ways. Any time I have cried, I immediately have three attentive noses and cautiously wagging tails headed my way. Brook, the German shepherd, takes up defense, crawling up next to me and assuming her protective stance, occasionally growling if she thinks the boys are being too rowdy. Tuck, the red one, sits on the other side and looks worried; he will lick my nose or eyes if I look at him, and he’s been known to cry, too. (He also has “migraines” whenever I have them, too.) Bear, the black fluffy one, tries to slap the sad out me; though not gentle, his approach is perhaps the most proactive. He brings all of his favorite toys and whacks me with them (you haven’t lived until you’ve been beaten about the head and neck with a slobbery monkey…) until I give up and play fetch. Bear also likes to hug – he likes nothing better than to crawl up on your lap and lay with his head on your chest. It sounds sweet, but Bear is sort of a drooler, and he slaps if you quit petting him.
With all of that attention, it’s hard to stay sad or angry for long. It’s amazing how much our emotions disrupt the “pack” – I can’t imagine how much more that effect must be magnified with children. This morning started out with some pretty painful cramping. I got out of bed long enough to open the door for the dogs’ morning constitutional and to take some prescription strength ibuprofen. By the time I got somewhat settled back in bed, I had both cats and Tuck the Worrier snuggling up in lieu of heating pads. Today promises to be full of ibuprofen, heating pads, and the consoling power of dog slobber.