I was going to write a really serious, profound, philosophical blog about life and the universe and how as writers, if we're lucky, our writing connects us in some small way with . . .
That's about as far as I got before the loaner dog banged into the sliding glass door at the back of my office. Lacking opposable thumbs, he can't let himself in, and he can't even make a fist to knock, so he jumps up on the door, making an audible and now familiar thud. And then, when I turn around to see if it's him--as opposed to a really large bird mistaking the door for an open space--it would have to be a bird with seriously bad eyesight, because the door, never pristine, is now covered with nose prints and paw marks--he goes into the Dance of Pleading. He dances in place, tail wagging furiously, with eager eyes, clearly saying, "Let me in! Please? I’d really, really, really love to be inside with you!"
He's adorable. (He knows it.) So I get up from my desk and walk over to let him in. When he sees me approaching, he doubles the speed of his dance, creating the Dance of Joy. He manages to give the impression that this, my arrival at the door to let him in, is the single most important moment in the history of the universe. Gets me every time.
As dogs go, he's actually pretty easy to have around. Completely housebroken. Crate trained to the point that if I'm not doing anything interesting--i.e., anything that could cause food to fall from the sky--he will go and crate himself for a nap. In the evening, he lolls on my purple velvet couch for hours and sometimes, if I am staying up past what he thinks is his bedtime, he will sudden jump up, shake himself, give me a disgusted glance--"what you YOU doing still up at this hour?"--and trot purposefully into his crate. And often, if I'm at my computer, he will lie down on the floor at my feet, doing his faithful hound routine.
So once I've fed him, and let him out for a necessary visit, it should be pretty easy to settle down at my computer to think deep and creative thoughts. To write an incisive, thoughtful blog and then get back to work on The Good, The Bad, and the Emu. I envision a quiet, creative day, just me and the dog at my feet.
The dog who sleeps with his paws about an inch away from the base of my office chair, so I can't roll the chair a few feet to get a reference book I need without checking to see where his paws are. And if I look down to see where his paws are, he interprets that as a signal that I'm about to pet him or feed him. And then lies down again, and who knows where his paws are now.
It's a relief, actually, when he decides to go up to the living room. I can roll my chair freely! I can write without canine supervision!
But I can't concentrate. Not sure whether it's worse if all's quiet up there, or if I hear the faint noises that mean he's on the move--the jingle of tags and the click of claws. Is he getting into something? (I know better than to leave food on the counter, or tissues in a trash can.)
So I get up and go to the bottom of the half stairs between my office and the living room and look up. He's not on the couch. I go into the kitchen, ostensibly to get another soda from the fridge. (Why am I pretending I'm doing something other than checking on the dog?) He's not in his crate. But I hear a slight noise--
He's sacked out on the dining room floor. Sometimes there's nothing like the feel of a nice hardwood floor beneath your fur, apparently. And for once, he does not interpret my appearance as a signal that I am going to feed him or pet him or let him out to chase the chipmunks and squirrels.
Don't worry, small rodent lovers. He's unlikely ever to catch one. But he has a strong prey drive and if he sees one on the deck, he will beg to be let out to spend a happy half hour snuffling and pouncing among the pots and planters and deck furniture. And then, when he tires of the chase, he thumps the door and we repeat the Dance of Pleading/Dance of Joy. Followed, of course, by a trip to the bathroom with me, because what humans get up to in the smallest room of the house is particularly worthy of close supervision.
He's having a lovely morning. I have yet to get a thing done.
But just when I'm starting to feel a wee bit resentful of the loaner dog, who has no deadlines to worry about, I let him out to scamper after the chipmunks again, and find myself envying and admiring how happy dogs are in the moment. Every time I let him out, he bounds across the yard with the same undimmed enthusiasm. This time he knows he will catch the chipmunk. And there will be things to bark at, and things to sniff, and when he wants to come back in, I will always be there to let him in and give him a treat. It's dog's life, and a pretty good life at that.
And I resolve to approach my day's writing with that same energetic optimism. To stop beating myself up about where I am in my schedule and just write. To stop worrying about the part that just isn't going as well as I'd like and just write, trusting that if I keep working it will get better. To stop fretting about. . . Hang on a sec. Got to let the dog out.