Saturday, February 11, 2006

an "aha" moment

Dooley is a snuggler (as evidenced in the picture with Junior below). If there’s space next to me on the couch, he’s in it, preferably wedged between me and a cushion or pillow. He also likes to plow under the covers at night and tuck in beside me, nestled into the curve of my body. I don’t ever mind—he’s small enough, and better than a hot water bottle when it’s cold!

The other morning I was listening to his contented breathing (under the covers) and got to wondering why it is that he is so keen on snuggling this way, when other dogs have never been interested in getting that close. It occurred to me that it’s about feeling safe.

Dooley came into my life because he almost died when he was a mere ten weeks old. He arrived at the vet’s with a broken elbow, ostensibly the result of having fallen off a table, an explanation that never made sense to me. The owners wouldn’t pay for the necessary surgery, and the only alternative was to put him down. The vet received permission from them to try to find him a home, and did the surgery at her own expense. The home he found was with me. At the time I met him he was a pathetic little thing in a funky cast that made it difficult for him to get around. I was weaning myself off a four-month relationship with crutches after shattering my heel, and concluded that we could be on the mend together.

Dooley’s first encounter with me was an extended period of time in my lap, where I just held him and stroked him and talked to him. When I picked him up to take him home, I carried him in my arms, and then again held him in my lap. Except for whatever love and care he received from his mother, his contact with me was the most devotion he had ever received. He was safe with me, and loved, and continues to be. Even when he does something that causes me to scold him, often as not I end up laughing because he’s such an expressive little critter, and the look on his face or the way his eyes plead make him so utterly forgivable.

I would think that after almost seven years together he would know he is always safe, but I don’t blame him for seeking the shelter and comfort of care. Most of us aren’t so assertive when it comes to snuggling, but like Dooley, we want to know that we are safe, and gravitate to those who make us feel that way. I think it’s why we, too, enjoy our own moments of extended time under the covers. It’s a place of safety and comfort, refuge from the demands of the day, and a time and place for rest and restoration.

Dooley may get a little more rest and restoration than he needs, but I don’t mind indulging him. His presence in my life has brought so much love that to refuse him would be a crime against humanity. And a wonderful thing about him is that he is an equal opportunity snuggler. Can’t you just feel the love?


samtzmom said...

It's all about unconditional love, isn't it? Dooley is not afraid to be fully and completely vulnerable with you because he knows he can trust you to be there always. How much we can learn from our pets! If we'd stop putting limiting conditions on every relationship and just try and trust, it really could be that lovely. :c) Sweet post!

Ruth said...

You are making me want a Dooley in my life. I wouldn't mind a snuggler at all. A head in my lap, a soft ear to fondle. Dooley is one lucky pup, then again it is so refreshing to note that you know you are pretty lucky too.


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