Several times in the last few months, people have said that our dogs are “spoiled.” (Not in person, but as comments on photos I’ve posted on Facebook.) Those comments always strike me as a little odd, because I feel lucky to have dogs that don’t seem to expect much from life other than the opportunity to spend time with us.
Well, they do get more marrow bones than they probably should, I must admit. But other than that, they’re pretty undemanding. They have days full of amazing adventures, to be sure, but they also have days of mind-numbing tedium, where long hours sleeping in a parking garage is the only “fun” they get, and still they seem happy and grateful for what they have.
One photo that elicited a “so spoiled” comment was one of me holding my right hand out while driving so that Jamie could rest his chin in it. I do this often, and sometimes I hold the position for long enough that my wrist hurts. Here’s a typical example from today, on the way back from a hike near the Golden Gate Bridge:
Jamie always likes this, and I assume that’s because my hand is a softer resting spot than the console of the truck, with its hard surface vibrating and shaking at every bump in the road. And also because he seems to enjoy human contact in general.
But I’m pretty sure that I like it even more than he does, so I don’t think of it as spoiling him – if anyone’s getting spoiled, it’s me. You see, if all goes well in both of our lives, I’m going to outlive him. I think of this often, as a reminder to maximize the fun we have together today, every day.
My first Samoyed, Rex, died suddenly of a rare disease at age 5, and that probably influenced how I approach things with Jamie and Alice. Rex was born in Illinois, and he traveled only to the adjoining states of Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan, plus one flight to and from Seattle when my father died. I had big plans to show Rex the world, but we didn’t get around to it soon enough.
It doesn’t take Dr. Freud to see how I’m handling that a bit differently with Jamie and Alice. I hope that Jamie lives a longer healthier life than average for a Samoyed, but even if he does that means he’ll be gone while I’m still in my 60s. And that means there will come a point in my life when I’d give almost anything to have just one more chance to hold his snoot in my hand, feeling him relax with a loud sigh, knowing that he takes comfort in my presence and enjoys my companionship.
So as long as I can, I’m going to play the role of Jamie’s snoot rest whenever I get the chance. Not for him, but for me. And I sure don’t think that’s “spoiling” him at all.