My Secret Vice
I miss my dog. His name was Gandalf the Grey, and we loved each other. He went to Doggie Paradise in 1991. He was my last dog, because my increasingly severe allergic asthma does not permit me to have another one. This is very hard on me because I love the company of other mammals, except maybe shrews.
I have an incurable case of Biophilia: that itch to reach out and pat something furred, feathered or scaled. I have exchanged kisses with a friendly wolf, hung with a fruit bat, scratched a tapir’s itchy back, persuaded a wren to perch on my finger as I escorted him from my house; and– oh, enchanting childhood moment!– had my face washed by the tongue of an orphan fawn.
On the domestic side I have cuddled with the usual suspects: dogs horses, cows, goats, chickens, cats, and one fancy rat. The rat peed on me a lot. It’s what they do. But we stayed friends.
But right now it is dogs I miss. Or Dog. The bounding joy, the endless good nature of Dog; the eye contact that says “It’s you and me, 4 Evah, darling dear!”
Dogs have this wacky willingness to go along with whatever whim we might entertain. Walkies? Anytime! Pick up that thing and bring it to you? Sure! Bunch up those woolly critters and put them in that pen? You betcha! Guide you around obstacles? No prob! Let’s play!
When that terrible longing for Dog engulfs me, I go to one of the best Walkie spots in my town, where there are vast public hayfields and orchards, with a pretty river running alongside. I go and pretend to walk and birdwatch there, feeling vaguely creepy, like a pedophile lurking outside a kindergarten, because I am really there for the dogs. Yes. I hit on other people’s dogs.
Yesterday’s bag: two fox-colored Pomeranians, a lissome Doberman still in possession of his ears and tail, several wet Labs, and a standard poodle who barked an initial challenge, then sat on my feet leaning against me as I fondled his ears and chatted about dogs with his owner.
I watch dogs play with each other, or chase down their tattered Frisbees, in the sunny meadows. I ask their moms and dads if its OK to greet their pets. If yes, I scratch their, hips, ruffle their ears, and look into their bright eyes while they look right back into mine. And my heart is satisfied.
Thus do I deal with my Biophilia. No, “Biophilia” sounds to much like a disease; let’s use the Anglo Saxon word. It’s love. Thank you, dog parents, for loaning me a bit of the total goodness of Dog. When I put my hand on somebody else’s dog I am changed down to the toes; I feel their love, and that bond between creatures, and with the world. Dogs make me proud to be a mammal. “It’s you and me for this moment, darling dear.” As the nice English gentleman said, “Only connect.”