This is Buddy. He came home with me yesterday. Almost immediately, Buddy started working like medicine on my soul, a kind of spiritual Propofol (and that’s some good shit, trust me, as in hash-tag-can-I-please-have-another-colonoscopy-this-year level of good).
I’ve always had dogs. I know the singular nature of their effect on the human psyche. But I have been dogless for the last year-and-a-half and thought I was doing just fine. I had Shasti, the tortoise-shell cat-dog who both greets me at the door and selectively ignores me in that schizophrenic feline way. And I had a busy life. Cats can handle your busy life. Dogs are permanent toddlers in constant need of attention.
In the last five (six? oh, crap) years of being single, I’ve dated quite a bit. Okay, a few people. Okay, two. Two people. One might think a good relationship would replace the lack of canine companionship, but frankly, it’s easier to get a dog.
Besides, even the best relationship doesn’t do what a dog can. A dog lives in the moment and reminds us to do the same. A dog is both mindful and playful, a combination that is perhaps the best definition of the divine. A dog lives and thrives in love; we do, too, but it’s a dog that can remind us that we actually should. A dog can nibble your ear and cause the oxytocin to move down your spine like a rushing shiver.
Dogs don’t look in the mirror and worry that they might be getting fat. They don’t spend Sunday night worrying about that thing they didn’t do on Friday which will cause Monday to start already behind. They don’t give up sleep to nibble on mental bones like wondering if Jessie really knew you were joking or how Kenneth actually feels about you or if you’re truly a good teacher or your students are just blowing smoke up your ass.
It took just that first look in my eyes for Buddy to remind me that none of that matters one minuscule, microscopic, itty-bitty bit. The worries and frets and obsessions are puffs of smoke that I could walk right through as if they don’t exist, but I treat them like stone barriers to goodness and peace. Buddy is the breeze that blows them away. He knows they’re only smoke, just as he knows he is the mirror to my truest self — the self that loves and lives in the moment and engages in mindful play.
I’m grateful for my Shasti-cat. She is a good pal and has been a loving presence in my life. But, cats, . . . well, cats are just different. Cats know they’re God. Dogs remind us that we are. And I thank the heavens that I have one in my life again. Welcome home, Buddy.