I guess yesterday was National Dog Day. And I didn't post anything on social media. Because in my world, everyday is national dog day. I mean, you've seen my logo, and possibly read the story behind it. On July 10, 2008, We brought home Rooney. This is one of my first pictures of him.
Thanks to smart phones, I now have 35,000 selfies of the two of us. Possibly more.
He didn’t know it at the time, and he still doesn’t know it, but I waited my entire life for him. I literally waited until I was 31 years old before adopting the basset hound I always wanted. And then he arrived and…
He pooped on the floor, often.
We put a string of bells on the door, and taught him that if he rung the bells with his nose when he had to go to the bathroom, we would let him outside. Twice, he peed underneath the bells.
He refused to walk more than ten steps before laying down on the sidewalk while we tried to coax him to the dog park at the end of the street. We got to know all over our neighbors in Boston, who faithfully cheered us on down the street every day.
"You got a little further today!" they'd shout, giving us a thumbs up. Rooney remained impassive, and often immobile. We considered investing in a red wagon.
We learned that many bassets don’t howl; they bay. Google it. It’s a disturbing noise.
We took him to puppy training class where the instructor spent 20 minutes telling us the kind of dog he wasn’t.
“Rooney will never live to please you,” he said. “He loves you, but his loyalty is to his nose.”
Meaning, as I would find out later, he loves me, but he also loves the pizza delivery dude and would happily go home with him. Because, you know, pizza.
We bought the book by the Buddhist monks about training German shepherds and realized very quickly that the key part of those training techniques was actually having a German shepherd.
For most of my life, I looked forward to running with a dog and the vet encouraged me to do so with Rooney, even though he was a basset hound. “It will be good for him,” she said.
And so I took him out running, along the bike bath in Jamaica Plain, and just as we settled in to a nice, slow rhythm, he dropped anchor to smell dog poop and I did a face plant in to the pavement.
And every day, I've loved him a little bit more.
Because at the end of a bad day, I come home and pick him up, and he sits on my lap, and we breathe together. He breathes deeply, into his stomach in that relaxed, calming way that only dogs and babies can breathe. Mercifully, Rooney does not know stress. I hope he never knows stress.
When I meditate, he puts his head in my lap and we breathe and think things through together. Okay, mostly he drools. But he soothes me. When I play the guitar, he stays on my feet, and while I can't promise that he loves my sad renditions of James Taylor songs (and by sad, I mean out of tune), he will leave the comfort of his bed and come to sit at my feet when I play.
And I love him just a little bit more.
He is my fur baby and I tell him, when no one is looking, that he is my sunshine. I tell him this every day, and I'm certain that what he hears is something like "smirna-smirna-smirna-schmorf-schmorf-schmorf-schmorf - cookie."
Because he knows the word cookie. Also breakfast, and dinner.
But he puts his head in my lap and looks at me with droopy, bloodshot eyes. Every day is national dog day, because I don't ever want to know a world without dogs.