Monday, December 31, 2007

Dog and Dad

I feel bad about Duncan. Not feeling well has really taken it out of me and being outside in the cold longer than a few minutes makes me feel worse. The poor boy has been patient with me, but I can tell by the way he looks out the windows at the quickly melting snow that it's all he can do to keep from going crazy. He loves the snow, and this is the deep stuff, the really good stuff. He's been full of love, a constant cuddler and has even somehow managed to tolerate my moaning, which serves no useful purpose except to make me smile through my aches, pains, coughs and chills.

Ken, when he's not at work, has been good about taking Duncan out for me. He's not as diligent a walker as I am (I don't know many people with dogs who actually are, which seems kind of ridiculous, like having kids and not teaching them language), but Duncan loves being with his dad. He gets to spend such little time with him that I know he looks forward to it. Not having spent a lot of time with my own father (he was more a disembodied voice on the radio or an abstract concept than anything tangible), I know how it feels. But that's ridiculous, you say. Dogs aren't capable of that kind of emotion. Well, my friend, you're wrong. Remember, it was only in the past ten or so years that scientists, vets included, acknowledged that animals experience pain*. I know that my dog feels love and joy; I see it on his face every day. I know when he's bored (he sighs like a pouting five-year-old) or when he's ashamed (he ducks his head low and hides under the table). When he gets to walk with Ken his head perks up and it looks as though he's receiving a special treat.

It's interesting watching them together. Ken's not so good at the kind of consistency I've used on Duncan. He's either lazy or doesn't believe me when I claim it works. But Duncan is a dog who was nearly impossible to walk a year and a half ago. It was incredibly difficult and an unenjoyable chore. But with lots of work and patience and the kind of consistency you could set your watch to, Duncan and I have become quite good together, like dancers, as we navigate the park, the pet store, even other dogs.

Not so with Ken. Rather than let his dad set the pace, as he does with me, Duncan leads Ken, pulling on his leash, taking him where he wants to go, stopping when he wants and not going until he's damn good and ready. I imagine it can be quite frustrating for Little Man, but it's fun to stand in the window and watch, shaking my head. I imagine it's a bit like when mom is out of town and dad has been left in charge of the kids, and being dad, is unaware that the kids have actually been left in charge of him.

*For more information on this topic, read the wonderful book Kindred Spirits: How the Remarkable Bond Between Humans & Animals Can Change the Way We Live by Allen M. Schoen, DVM, MS

1 comment:

Ruth said...

You are so effin adorable.