Not all dogs want to play fetch or curl up for an afternoon snuggle. Our other dog wants none of this. Part Border Collie and part Blue Heeler, Freckles's Blue Heeler blood would prefer the life of a work dog. Don't get me wrong. She's sweet; she loves us. But love and affection have historically been given and received on her terms. It has long been a family joke as to how quickly she would get up and leave if one of us sat next to her on the couch. I have even seen her cold shoulder the cats for daring to rub against her on a chilly day. Simon, however, seems to be winning her over. In fact, I'd swear that he's teaching Freckles the simplest joys of being a dog.
Freckles now enjoys chew toys and shares her bed. She steals their ropes, clearly so Simon will follow and play tug of war. And just yesterday, she jumped into my lap and licked my face while I scratched her ears and neck. We have had this dog for almost five years, and I would wager that I have pet her more in this past three months that Simon has lived with us. As for Simon...Freckles even allows him to stretch out down her back at times for afternoon naps.
I know. It's insane. Freckles is learning to be a dog, and my big burly husband is turning soft. Now don't misunderstand...he's a good man. But being a six-foot-one engineer with strong opinions about "do's" and "don'ts" can make him seem a little rough around the edges, a little gruff. Can you begin to picture him? Now imagine this stern, burly man in the floor on his knees, arms and torso stretched across the couch, petting and whispering sweet nothings into the ears of a sleepy-eyed weim. Imagine him assisting Simon by engaging and disengaging the foot rest lever, helping Simon onto THE recliner, my husband's recliner, a recliner in which no other pet has ever slept. (Don't feel too sorry for the other furries; the effects are trickling down just fine.)
For all this extra work and inconvenience since Simon came to live at the Holland house, he seems to be bringing out the best in each of us. It's more than just his puppy-ness, more than puppy breath and floppy, hound-dog ears, more than those colossal paws. Whether the others have realized it or not, I think they sense this same zeal for life that I see. Simon simply reels us in. I should try to be more like Simon, warm and bubbly and full of life. Perhaps my own world wouldn't seem so small.