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This is Tairiq (pronounced Tyreek). Unlike our other two dogs, Tairiq rarely feels pressure to do anything more than enjoy life. Tucker spends his days making sure the tiny dog in the yard behind ours does not break through the fence and kill us. Bryar is more focused on us, watching our every move, should we lapse into sadness that requires her attention. But not Tairiq. Tairiq never thinks he needs to take care of anything else. No sense that he really should do a little more for the greater good. He is here, in this moment, today, now.

I long for that feeling, for that idea that I’ve done what I can do and now I can just sit and be still. I blame this compulsion in part on years of working in jobs that were actually much larger than any one person could accomplish—ever. No matter what I finished, the to-do list grew longer. Even working at night or on weekends, the feeling that I was caught up was fleeting. Not so much Tairiq. He has licked his dinner dish dry, played with his stuffed duck until both he and it are exhausted, and sniffed the perimeter of the grass to see what marauders have dared enter our yard. But that was then. Now, he rests and looks at us. Soon, he will sleep.

Despite having open days and a self-determined schedule, I never share Tairiq’s sense that I’ve done enough. Instead, especially with so much discretionary time now that I’m retired, I almost feel as if I should do more. Surely I could do something about that ridiculously messy hall closet, or wash the windows, or publish my book, build a house for Habitat for Humanity, save the environment.

When Tairiq was a pup, we taught him to sit and stay and heel and a few other things that he quickly committed to memory. He occasionally lies down when we tell him to sit, but for the most part he is obedient when asked to be. But now I think as I list the tasks I need to complete today—taking an older friend shopping, writing an essay, doing the laundry, helping a 16-year-old with homework—that I may have underestimated this dog’s true brilliance. As I watch him shift to a new, even more comfortable position on the couch as I’m racing out to pick up something for dinner, he stares at me and I know he is thinking, “Just settle down, lady (for some reason I think this is what he calls me). You’ve done enough for today.”

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