For reasons too mundane to explain, none of my original holiday plans worked out, and I found myself dog-sitting Brody, Tabbatha's rat terrier.
Now I'm not somebody who believes in the whole cat person/dog person thing. It's perfectly possible to be both. I loved my German Shepherd Elinore just as much any cats I've ever known. But I acknowledge that here is a difference between the two species. Cats are...well, cats are kind of weird, and their personalities come in a thousand different styles. And they're unpredictable; I've known Delmar his entire life--over seven years--and I still never know how he'll react to any given thing. Will he be cranky and pissy, or unexpectedly sweet, or aloof and unreadable? Who knows?
Dogs...well, they may be different, but usually they have predictable patterns of behavior, especially within their breed. Dogs are great, and can be swell companions, but they're much less interesting than cats.
So when Brody swept in for these past two days, I thought I knew what to expect. But once he got past the furious barking-at-Del stage (I had to shut Del into the spare bedroom for the duration, which sounds harsh, but the whole room is only slightly smaller than my old apartment), he settled down to getting to know me better. Which he did by jumping up on my lap and staring at me intensely. Then he yawned, lowered his head and demanded a hug. Only a few minutes in, and I already adored him.
He was like a wiry little embodiment of everything cute, nut never in a treacly or overbearing way. He'd track any move I made, and whenever I'd turn around, he'd be sitting there, his somewhat beady but unfathomably wise eyes peering right into me. When I'd approach my recliner, he'd jump up and down beside it, and as soon as I sat, he'd be on my lap. When he needed to go to the bathroom, he'd approach the door and do this odd little vertical leap, as straight up and down as an elevator. I'd take him outside, he'd do his business, and then demand a walk. I found myself taking him out constantly--I'd only have to go near his leash to set off a fit of joyous leaping--just for the pleasure of watching him bound through the snow. And there was his righteous fury at every passing snowplow, and the way he'd paw at the blankets until I let him under the covers, and...everything, really.
Maybe, intellectually, I prefer cats. I appreciate how mysterious and unknowable they can be. Yet those very same qualities are the reasons many people don't like cats, and I guess I can understand that. And having Brody here, especially on Christmas day, made me realize why some people prefer dogs. My plans for the day may not have worked out, just as none of my relationships somehow ever work out, but on this particular day, I had all the love anyone could ever want.
It was a Christmas miracle.