Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The "Joys" of Person-ness

I like to think that our Scottie Tess is the nicest person I know. She is loving, forgiving, almost always upbeat, and pretty adaptable. How many people do you know who meet all of those requirements for “nicest person”?

Of course, Tess has an advantage over most people—she’s a dog. Being upbeat and adaptable fit her job description. On the other hand, Tess’s nearest neighbor, a yappy designer mutt named Reese, is also a dog but doesn’t seem to know anything about being loving or forgiving. She is small and feisty and scares the crap out of both Tess and me. No nicest person is she!

Tess has a much better dogality than Reese. (I used to think that I had coined that word but have since found several uses of the term cited on the Internet, including a dog assistance group in Kansas City called dogality.net. I don’t begrudge them the use of my word.)

Most times, Tess enjoys her personhood as a member of our tight family. But today was not one of those times. We woke up to a thin layer of snow and ice on the ground. The slick covering caused me some concern, but Tess was undeterred. The morning walk means three things to her—a chance to sniff and explore much the same turf she has sniffed and explored many times before, a time to get rid of wastes (that for reasons that she cannot comprehend I usually choose to save in a small bag and bring home), and an activity that is always followed by breakfast.

Then I introduced a people wrinkle into this morning’s walk. I decided that the chill and the moisture called for enclosing her in a bright red coat. Tess is not a big fan of her coat. I think she believes the other dogs will make fun of her if they see her in it.
For some reason, Tess always seems"sheepish" in her coat.
Coats are clearly a people invention; we like being bundled up in the cold, and so bundle up our dogs. When she sees me lift the coat from its place on the shelf, she often moves to a corner of the room and goes into her “funk” look. She lets me strap her into it but provides little help and no enthusiasm. Once I open the door and we set out, however, she is back to being upbeat and adaptable, and I feel forgiven.
Our steps in the snow. My prints are the larger ones.

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