A little over a month ago, Heidi slept with me.  Tonight, Lizzie is going to sleep in my room, but I won’t let her sleep in my bed.

No, it’s not what you’re thinking.  Heidi and Lizzie are dogs.

When I was dogsitting a month ago, I was so tickled when beautiful red-haired Heidi decided to climb up on the bed and sprawl next to me.  (Don’t worry, her “parents” had okayed it.)  True, I didn’t have much room left to myself, but I felt so touched and honored that she wanted to be with me.  There is so much comfort in having a loving companion nestled up against you, even if it is canine.

Of course it would have been better if it had been cold out.  Then a one-dog-night would have been extra nice.  But beggars can’t be choosers and so I was happy to have her with me even in the midst of summer.

Lizzie is not quite as clean as Heidi.  Whereas Heidi’s coat is almost like shiny hair (she could be a model!), Lizzie has definite fur, and it tends to be on the dusty side because she lives in a desert and when she goes outside, she has no choice but to lie in the dirt.  Poor Lizzie.  By contrast, Heidi is lucky. Her home is surrounded by lush green grass and shady trees.

Lizzie is probably not limber enough to get up in the bed with me anyway.  She is content lying on her own little rug by the side of the bed.  Like my former partner, she’s just happy to be in the same room, even if we’re not actively engaged with one another.

Then there’s Junior.  During this housesitting/petsitting gig, I am taking care of two cats, a dog, and a puppy.  Junior and his sister and Mom somehow stumbled in a big hole in the backyard here.  The residents of this home discovered who the owners were and reported the three dogs found.  The owners of said dogs asked if they wanted a puppy, and since this one had practically fallen in their laps, they took it as a sign they were meant to keep him.

Like all puppies, he likes to chew and play.  Fortunately this is interspersed with really long naps.  Sometimes when Junior is “acting up,” chewing the edge of a rug or bothering Lizzie excessively, I realize it’s my job to give him some extra attention.  And so I’ll sit down next to him and I’ll give him a doggie massage.  He rolls on his back and with legs completely relaxed and splayed, he, with complete trust, allows me to stroke his belly over and over again.  Often I will rub and scratch behind his ears or at the top of his head or spine where he can’t reach to bite or scratch.  While scratching gently behind his ears, his eyes glaze over with complete bliss.  Most dogs, like most humans, crave touch.

The gift for me is that Junior helps me to not get so engrossed in my work that I forget to take a break.  It’s good for me to break away from typing and writing and instead employ my hands to give tactile pleasure.  It’s good for me to change positions.  It’s good for me to interact with a world that is flesh and blood, as opposed to the cyber world that can suck up so much of my time.

Dogs are an incredible blessing to humans.  As anyone who has ever had a dog can tell you, the best thing about dogs is their unconditional love.  They don’t care what you look like.  They don’t care if you’ve taken out the garbage or not.  They may not like it when you’re late, but they will eagerly greet you with tail wagging anyway.  And if you’re sad, they somehow seem to know it and they come and put their sweet little face in your lap.  They lick your face over and over again and remind you that they love you no matter what.

We can all take a lesson from dogs!

Thank God for dogs.  Our lives are so much richer because of them.

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