This Is True Love
Fur in my face: sweet, warm, soft. I roll over into the familiar wet-dog smell and inhale deeply. Jockeying for prime space in the bed, I nudge him and he gives me “the look,” settling deeply into my husband’s pillow a few inches further from my nose.
Beasley knows his master is away and the bed is ours. He knows that I don’t mind the grit beneath us, shaken off as he lumbered up; knows I like the blankets scrunched and balled around us and the sheet tangled beneath us; knows I love the popcorny smell of his paws and his low slumbering moans.
We are so bold. Up on the bed.
My husband is gone for two weeks. He is touring with the Minnesota Orchestra and during this time there will be no savory smells in the kitchen, no bright and bleached laundry to fold, no spanking clean sheets. We are alone, the dog and I, and we come and go as we please. He drinks from the toilet. I leave the doors unlocked and the dishes in the sink. I call out for pizza and the Big Bease and I, we share.
Oh, sometimes we miss the man. I miss him because I love him, and no getting around it, after all these years, I’m used to him. Beasley misses him because he loves him too–but he also misses the treats. When my husband is home, Beasewalldeen gets treats for going out, treats for coming in, treats for sitting, treats for lying down, treats for wagging his tail, treats for no reason. My husband’s a soft touch. But Beasley and I, we don’t let this “missing stuff” bother us. We are on vacation. We are free!
Some days we get in the car and drive for hours; we never say where we are going or when we are coming home.
We drive with my elbow sticking out one window and his muzzle out the other. I tell Bees- Knees my darkest secrets, my grandiose plans and my little hopes. He thinks they are terrific. I ask him how come he can stick his nose out the window at forty miles an hour and be cool, but go totally nuts, really whacko if I blow in his face. I ask him if he really dreams about chasing rabbits. He nods and wags.
Our days of freedom and bliss fly by. We are happy: romping and playing and doing our thing. But then, at the end of the second week, the house is a shambles, our stomachs ache from the junk, and all at once, we get sick of the fun. Again and again, Beasley jerks up, cocks his head hopefully then collapses back down, disappointed at the sound of the wrong car.
He drags himself, hang-dog, over to me, lays his head in my lap and looks up accusingly, “What have you done, buried him in the back yard?”
“One more day,” I say and pat my sad dog’s head. But there is no consoling him. He’s sick of the good life and wants me to go back there and dig him up. I am a little hurt. My Beasty Boy loves me, but I am not the love of his life. I’m merely the stand-in, the good-time girl, the substitute. He misses his master and wants him back.
When the cab pulls up, the front door finally opens, and the Man is home. Beasley flings himself against those familiar legs and leaps into waiting arms; he licks and cries and wags and whimpers for joy. And suddenly, I know, this is true love. A love so great that an old dog gladly gives up the pillows and blankets and sheets and sleeps again, on the floor, by the bed.