Steve Eaton: Man experiences puppy love, gets new outlook on life, presidential politics
"What is that? What does it do? Can I eat it? Why are you doing that? Why did you close that door? Can you lay on your back like this? Let's eat this thing; it smells awful! Why are you doing that? Let's go outside! I can pick this up and run away. I never, ever poop on your lawn or anywhere outside. Am I a good boy? What is this? Let's pull it off the table to see if it's food! Can a dog climb completely inside a refrigerator? I can. Don't you love me? I love everything! Let's jump up on the bed! I did it first so the bed is mine. I think I'll lick that pillow..."
This is my life right now.
I have said, "OK, time to go potty!" so many times in the last 48 hours that I'm afraid I'll say it in my sleep or start to mumble it out loud in a work meeting without realizing it.
We had a dog for nearly 17 years. Three days after my daughter was married, our dog, Kallista, lay down and just couldn't get up again. She was gray, old and very tired. She raised our two kids and last April she decided that it was time to go.
We were surprised at how much crying we could do over a single dog; one that never even learned to give us back rubs or fetch the newspaper. We felt like teenagers without cellphones or a postal worker without a line of people waiting.
There was an awful void. Something important was missing.
As it turns out, there are very few people who will give you the kind of unconditional love that a dog will offer you. I have never had a boss jump up and down and run around in circles every time he or she saw me.
(Some have made me run around in circles, but that's not the same thing.)
I once saw an embroidered pillow in someone's house that said, "I want to be the kind of person that my dog thinks I am." We missed that kind of respect and unconditional love so we went out and did something that we never thought we'd do — we got another dog.
We got another Basenji, a breed of dog you don't see every day on the street. Rarely will you find them on a doggie calendar.
We have picked this breed because my wife is allergic to dogs but not to Basenjis. They are very clean dogs and I suspect they'd vacuum our carpets and scrub the floors if they didn't think it would be easier to train us to do such chores.
(The clean instinct apparently doesn't apply to the puppy stage, especially if a puppy has decided it is much more private to go potty in the house than outside.)
Basenjis are known for being intelligent animals who prefer to train their owners. Of course, we aren't letting our new dog, Sundance, train us, but we have had to adjust our behavior a little. For example, I've already learned that if I leave my socks on the ground, Sundance will grab them and fling them up in the air until my wife notices and yells at me.
I put them away now.
It's been a long time since we had a puppy and our new Basenji thinks that just about everything that happens is reason to celebrate. There is no past and there is no future with Sundance — just the glorious now and clearly now is a moment made for playing and chewing.
I've wondered how it would be if our presidential candidates had a little less bulldog and a little more puppy in them. Envision this:
"President Obama, Mitt Romney says you are wrecking the economy!"
Then President Obama would just lower his head and go back in the White House and sulk.
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