Ten years ago, you couldn't have made me get near an animal. Nope. Not a cat or dog or otherwise. I couldn't stand them. It's nearly the same way I feel about kids today. I didn't want them near me, on me, or slobbering on me. Ick. To think of finding a dog hair on my pants made me feel like I should tear them off and toss them in the wash with hot water.
We grew up with outside dogs. One at a time. And they were never inside, even in cold Idaho winters, except when it as excessively cold -- and even then, just to lay inside the door on a specific dog-worthy rug. And only for a while. Then, it was back outside. And I don't recall ever petting them or napping with them or talking to them. My, what a difference a few years makes. I'm pretty sure that actually enjoying feeling four paws pressed against my stomach and chest in the night is evidence of that.
He presses out hard with his four small paws when he stretches. They press firmly into either my back or my chest and middle-aged tummy when he does that. And I like it. I think it's cute when he stretches. And it is especially comforting in the dark hours of the night when it happens. I feel his dramatic breath exhale on my forearm when he rests his small chin there. And to look into his eyes is almost too much sometimes. Even know, as I'm writing this, I can hear him lying in his well-adorned-and-expensive bedding next to me...breathing, sighing (because he's dramatic like his daddies). At night, after lying at the foot of the bed for a bit, he "comes into the fort." It's underneath the covers, between us. He goes in head first. Butt last. And his little 12-pound body rests there. His cute little hind quarters right squarely between our chests. We look at each other and smile. We think it's cute although others are probably quite put off by it. I used to be.
I'm not sure when, or precisely how, it happened. But it did. I'm a dog guy now. I remember going to our friend Heather's house for brunch years ago. She has two big whippets. And who in the world would those dogs choose to lay on except me. The dog hater. LoverBoy looked at me. And I at him. He knew. I knew. My eyes showed it, like they usually do. But over the years, this old hard and crusty opinionated soul let them in. The dogs. I'm the guy who stops at nearly every single dog on the street to say hi. I'm the one who just has to pet them and tell them that they are good boys or girls. I scratch them behind their ears and kiss them on their heads. Just like a politician working the crowd. And they seem to put the silly, overly dramatic episodes of this childish world at bay for a while.
And when I climb in bed at night with LoverBoy and Mason, the world seems better. It's one of my most favorite times of the day. The quiet. The solace. The little games that we play -- even at our age. And, Mason, a big part of all of them. Just goes to show you that an old dog can learn new tricks. Even at my age.
** This post was prompted by my buddy Matt who posted a link on Facebook today to an article at The RhodesTer Chronicles detailing a PBS show "Why We Love Cats and Dogs."