Other people can be really hard for me. I often seem outgoing, loud, engaging, humorous, charismatic, when I’m not moody, overly introspective, prickly, and self-involved. I am an only child who told her deepest secrets to a stuffed bear, that I still have; but now he sits on a shelf so that I don’t tear him to pieces in my sleep.
Nine years ago I was a mess. I had been told that I was a terrible teacher, which tore at me even if it came from an ego-maniacal man who felt empowered tearing down others. I had landed back in my hometown after faint dreams of glory. I had yet to start therapy, or Al-Anon or confrontational self-reflection, or actual dream chasing. But my inner child yearned for one thing. And now I was a capable enough adult to answer it.
And this will sound crazy to all the people who look to other people – siblings, lovers, child – for comfort, answers, reflection, acknowledgement – but people are hard for me. I needed a dog.
I needed a creature that was steady, would not judge me, would not ask me questions I didn’t want to answer, that would not change and could not fail me. I needed a spirit that I could wake up at any hour, in any condition, admit any secrets, fail in any way, and that spirit would stay by my side. I needed to not feel so alone, not feel so desperate, not feel so anxious and unsure. A dog would set my schedule, would demand that I come home, would walk with me in the middle of the night, would listen to my unspoken truths, and still be there.
I know I was asking a ton of another being, but the amazing thing about a dog is that they give with so much joy and generosity. They start each day anew, they welcome you home each time with excitement, they ask for the same thing every day and give in return everything they have to offer. That is too much to ask of another human. And people can be hard for me.
I know this seems off to most of you humans, those who find words a comfort, material support a necessity, and licks to be gross. But I also know there are many others, like me, out there in packs, talking to ears that hear only pitch and emotion, curled up with fur and dirt and maybe even some fleas. It sounds crazy to some, but not to those that know.