My dog and I, we’re in a rough patch. Our relationship, I mean. Normally we’re real tight, like Oprah and Gayle. I’d road-trip with her in a heartbeat because we’ve got a lot in common. Both introverts. Both want everyone’s table scraps. Both like the outdoors and afghans and UPS packages. We cringe together when the child plays her recorder, but we don’t leave the room because we’re committed to supporting excruciating art in hopes it will make its way to enjoyable.
We also have an understanding that because I have a neurological condition that trips me up on the regular, she’s allowed to curl up behind my knees whenever I’m in bed. I pet her nearly every time she’s close, but it happens that it’s never enough for her anymore. When I stop, she breathes like a furniture mover and slams her body against mine. So of course I tell her, “Go on, get down.”
Husband and I invested in a new mattress recently and it seems my unconscious mind chose a taller one. Now, when I evict her, she can still throw her ears back and manipulate me with her eyes, but she has to do it from the floor.
Except yesterday. Yesterday was day four of a re-occurring there’s-no-pain-scale-for-this migraine. This grade of migraine, unlike the others, only visits a couple times a year and hails from the seventh circle of Dante’s hell. It makes me moan as if I’m being killed, wrench from side to side, pull my own hair, and hypothesize about the logistics of ripping my own head off. Eventually I dissociate from my body entirely, silent and half-dead-like until the med cocktail kicks in.
Midway through the nap I almost had, this little dog crawled on top of my chest, put her head down between her paws, and looked directly into my soul. I asked her (with my mind) if she was just there for scratches and told her (with my mind) that it wasn’t a good time. She didn’t move. Not toward my hands or face, not even to lift my fingers onto her head with a wet snout. Sometimes when I leave a heating pad on she’ll lie down on it like that – perfectly still.
This made me think of that episode of House where there was a nursing home who lived in a cat, I mean, a cat who lived in a nursing home, and whoever the cat chose to bunk with would be the next resident to die.
So the nursing home locals just knew it was a magical death-predicting cat and of course Dr. Gregory House, played by award winning actor and musician Hugh Laurie, would pop another Vicodin and roll his eyes and get to the bottom of things.
Apparently animals can sense fever, and these perishing people were super warm and there you go.
**felt my own forehead**
Then I wondered if my dog, Happy, was there to tell me I was going to die because she had obviously not been this purposefully quiet and selfless in our relationship up to this point.
I broke it down for her (with my mind): You don’t lift a finger around here, don’t do anything but sniff your butt and pace anxiously from door to window and then barf on my newly-cleaned comforter. Plus, I have to give all my friends a disclaimer about your licking and your breath, which naturally answers the embarrassing question of why there are damp circles of fabric around our house that smell like roadkill.
PLUS, I give you treats every time you re-enter the house even if you’re playing me. I let you ride in the car though you’ll inevitably accidentally roll up the window and nearly hang yourself. And don’t you dare forget how I only wear purple zebra print yoga pants because they remind you of walks and territorial urination; I work hard to get my thighs in those just so you can have some purpose to your day. I do so much for you, and still, you don’t let me rest when I need it most.
Exacerbated, I finished my speech out loud: “So YOU don’t get to know about MY death before I do, HAPPY!”
Head still down, tail wagging, she answered me (with her mind).
I gotta pee. It’s very serious.
She pushed up from my chest and jumped her two stories down to the carpet.
I sat up and looked at her. “So am I gonna die, or not?!”
She started her Happy trot down the hallway toward the back door. All I heard in reply was the sound of her metal name tag jangling in her own breeze.