Isabella's chewing the upholstery on the recliner again. True, it's a well-worn recliner I rescued from a trip to the dumpster, but still--AAUUGGHH! When it's not the recliner, she's tearing up threads from the carpet, or pawing at power cords, or otherwise showing absolutely zero comprehension of the word, "No."
All of which is exasperating, and results in much apoplectic teeth-gnashing and arm-waving on my part. (Imagine a cross between Jackie Gleason and Jerry Lewis.) But despite all the frustration, and even while asking myself why I thought any of this was a good idea in the first place, I realize I finally understand the dog thing.
Don't get me wrong: Cats are awesome. But though they can be pampered, and can certainly be demanding, they don't really need much from people. Give a cat a fresh litterbox, plenty of food and an adequate supply of water, you can be gone for a week. True, he may be a little standoffish when you get back, but that's just because you weren't around to provide a lap for sleeping. It's not like he missed you.
Dogs...aren't like that. They require a good deal more effort on the part of their human companions, and sometimes that can be frustrating. For instance, I used to be able to do stuff as soon as I got off work--going out to eat, catching a movie, hanging out with friends, whatever. But now I have to go home first, because it's been over nine and a half hours since I left for work, and poor Bella needs to be taken for a walk. Sometimes that seems like such a millstone.
Certainly it's a routine, a ritual enacted with little variation day in and day out. Yet this routine gives me exercise (I've dropped six pounds in the last month), brings me into contact with my neighbors and allows me to explore new blocks and see aspects of my neighborhood I've only previously seen from behind a steering wheel.
Mostly, though, these walks allow me plenty of bonding time with my beloved baby girl. Bella is never more blissfully unaware of my existence than when we're out for our afternoon walk, when her nose is low to the ground, catching a new scent every ten seconds or so, every new thing more interesting than the last. And though she may not notice me much at times like these, I bask in every moment, as she leaps into the air to bat at low-hanging branches, or whips her head around as birds flutter in and out of her peripheral vision, or simply wags her tail furiously over some fresh marvel. She's living fully in the moment at times like these, and thanks to her, I am, too.