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Every Day Should Be Dog Day

I’m writing this on National Dog Day. When I look at my two sprawled across our bed in the middle of a Friday afternoon, I remember what an old friend used to ask: Why is that mothers are celebrated for just a day each year and pickles get an entire week? In my mind, dogs deserve at least a month. I’ve had a lot of dogs in my life and every one of them has offered me something pretty amazing. Right now, we have Nugget, a retired service dog, and Remy, a 3-year-old Corgi. Partly because of Nugget’s background, and because her service dog puppy raiser is one of the calmest, most centered people I know, Nugget is the epitome of relaxed. She is just quietly there if we need her. She never even barks, except occasionally in her dreams, which does make me a little sad. Still, every time I look at her, I am reminded that just being in the world without a lot of drama or hoopla is a pretty good idea. I often think about channeling her energy when I’m anxious or worried about something.

Remy is not like this. He is so busy, in both his movements and his brain, that I can practically see the wheels turning when I look into his brown eyes. I don’t think about channeling him because I already feel like him. But lately, I’ve been thinking that Remy also has some good ideas about how to live. Although he is serious about the squirrels on the back fence and anyone who dares walk past our yard on the canal trail, once he has destroyed their attempts at killing us, he’s really just his regular fun-loving self. I don’t see the same kind of mulling and tormenting over life that I see in myself. Nugget probably doesn’t go to these extremes, either, but she definitely feels that it’s her job to read the room to see if anyone needs her to lean against them.

Remy takes himself seriously, but it seems like this is only because he has such a fun life and he doesn’t want to miss any of it.

Remy just looks for the stuff that seems fun to him. He sits for hours on the guest room bed and looks out the window. Or at least that’s what it seems like. In truth, I often find him asleep on the bed rather than on alert, but I’m sure these are just momentary lapses. If there were real danger, I know he’d pop up and save us. One of his favorite things to do is to lie in the hallway—really, any hallway—with his back or belly pressed against the wall. It’s cool there, I’m sure, and he likes it as a way to rest between his adventures. Many of those take place in the back yard, so I’m not often privy to the details, but I know they involve a lot of snuffling around in plants and bushes. There is also a great deal of sitting on the back porch and staring out at the yard—just in case.

But even when he is on watch like that, I can distract him easily with something fun—a trip out to the front yard to get the mail, a chance to stare at me while I eat popcorn, or the announcement that it is, in fact, finally 4 p.m. and is time for dinner. Every part of his day is important to him, despite how mundane it might seem to the rest of us. Remy takes himself seriously, but it seems like this is only because he has such a fun life and he doesn’t want to miss any of it.

Even though Remy's enthusiasm can be annoying, it would be nice to sometimes be a little more like him and a little less like Nugget. Despite her quietness, I know she worries about people if they seem upset, and would never leave their side if they were sad or in trouble. Remy is not disloyal, but he’s got stuff to do. I’m relatively sure he’d leave me in a minute if Jodi offered him a treat. I’m never going to be like either of them, of course, because I’m stuck with all of these human responsibilities that I’m sure seem silly to them. But I keep learning from them both. They know how to live, I tell you. They get the most of every day, they have absolutely no regrets, and they fall into a long, comfortable sleep each night because they have lived every moment to the fullest. From my view, it really doesn’t get any better than that.


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