Happy Birthday, Corgis!
I was lucky enough to be home with them–I am on maternity leave–to wish them a happy birthday. Their day started with an after-breakfast treat of peanut butter, followed by an after-dinner treat purchased by their human dad: hamburgers! And of course, lots of treats during the day.
And they had two exciting disruptions to their daily routine: they got to bark at a salesman (he was invited, and they barked politely), and I broke protocol and let them chase two deer in the yard.
But perhaps my favorite part of the day was when my toddler got home from her school. On the way home, I told her it was the corgis’ birthday, and she was so excited, talking about baking a cake for them (until I told her they’d prefer hamburgers) and singing “Happy Birthday.”
And that got me thinking. “Dog people” love their dogs. But why? For many, it’s a canine’s simple happiness that can bring a smile even after a rough day. Dogs mirror our enthusiasm, wagging their tails at the mention of squirrels or treats or toys or–well, anything, really. But it’s more than just that. They bring their own enthusiasm, even as they slow down.
A neighbor recently learned that her dog had a blood cancer that was no longer responding to treatment. She knew her days with her best friend were limited, but she smiled every day as I passed them on their daily walks. She found happiness, she told me, in Ranger’s happiness. He didn’t get bogged down by his illness: he chased after my toddler and looked for squirrels and for other dogs and for nasty, scrumptious scents to roll in. On our walks, I wasn’t sure who was happier–my squealing toddler patting Ranger, or Ranger basking in the attention.
In some ways, having a dog is like having a perpetual toddler–in a good way. Toddlers are enthusiastic about the world. Many things are new and exciting, and some things–like the song they listen to on CD over and over and over–never cease to bring thrills. My daughter asks me to tell the same story over and over again, and she basks in every detail. My adult brain reels in boredom, wondering what the purpose is. But the little tykes don’t think that way yet. They still know how to enjoy the moment. When I try to tell my daughter about all the things we have to do in a day, she retreats into the now, giggling about a cool looking truck we’re passing by, or telling me about the shape of the bite she took out of her cookie. Toddlers appreciate the little things, and the present.
And so do dogs. While toddlers bring tantrums with them, dogs keep their enthusiasm with a more even temperment. The corgis enjoy going outside no matter how many times they’ve gone for the day. Each time I ask “Do you corgis want to go out?”, they jump up and bark, behinds wagging, as if they’d never been asked before. The “now,” the current moment, is what they have.
I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite poems is “Golden Retrievals” by Mark Doty, about how a dog’s purpose is to draw its person into the now, to enjoy the moment rather than allowing future moments or worries to deny us the present.
And that is why I’m so appreciative of all the time I have with the corgis. Their enthusiasm–even when the barking is excessive–is a reminder of the excitement each moment has to offer. Imagining the way they perceive each moment gives me great pleasure as I plan their next adventures in the Corgi Capers series and the characters Sapphie and Zeph who are modeled after them.
For all the “dog people” out there, enjoy your four-legged friends and all the moments they bring. For those without dogs, may you find moments now and again to think like a dog–or maybe a bit like a rambunctious toddler.