It has been said that if you step back and actually look, you’ll discover that pets and their owners are remarkably similar.
Sometimes they share the same personality. Combative and pugnacious people rarely pick out a limp puddle of fur to come home to. And folks who flinch at the militant sound of wind chimes seldom pair themselves with a set of finely edged fangs and three lungs to power some vocal chords.
Often there are similarities to personal appearance. I’ve seen bucketloads of folks who could easily be mistaken for a poodle or a basset hound, but that’s usually because my supermarket is right next door to a bargain basement hair salon and a dilapidated liquor store that has long park benches in front of it.
I might add that many of us are beginning to take on the features of an overwhelmed puckered up pug from too many months of listening to the academics of our communities attempt to interpret the world of Twitter.
Yeah, if a Chinese Shar-Pei was capable of doing a killer eye roll, we’d be an identical match.
But recently, I’ve noticed that my own fetching Fido and I have yet another similarity: we are waiters.
I’m not suggesting that we both have a shift at the local greasy spoon bussing tables, but rather that our lives have been arranged around events yet to come.
I’m pretty sure you know where I’m going with this one, as no matter how old you are—if you are still inhaling breathable gases from a westward zephyr, you will likely have uttered something like this:
When I turn eight, I finally get to jump off the diving board.
Once I’m in college, I’ll open an IRA.
After I retire, I’m going to build an art studio.
I’ve got three years left in the slammer and then (or … you know … something similar).
Now although my trusty rusty trail tracker may not have as extensive a list of to-dos put on pause (paws?) as his human counterparts, there are undoubtedly enough things in his life that are worthy of comparison.
He’s always waiting for food. Not being blessed with opposable thumbs, he is dependent upon the memory of others to know that when the sun makes a certain shadow on the floor, kibble must appear in a bowl. I caught him once staring longingly at a possum sniffing around on the back porch—not because around here we consider possum to be the other other white meat, but because the creature had finely crafted digits that—if directed to do so—could pop the beer tab off a can of hash in under a minute.
The hairy hound is also forever waiting for someone to open the door. Any door. I think, during the last few years, that I’ve come to understand that his desire is not simply to go out, or come in, as he is fully aware of the fact that he has a dog door and uses it successfully and repeatedly. No … he’s too intelligent to have “forgotten” that he has free access. And he’s not making me get up out of my chair dozens of times a day to let him in or out just to be spiteful—or make sure I’m getting enough exercise.
I rather believe it’s due to his level of sensitivity. His inner Zen master bubbling up to the surface. I’m nearly convinced that, to him, a door is a blockage of Feng shui. Certainly this would explain the poster of Chinese Metaphysics on the back wall above his bed.
It’s probably just a phase.
But the thing that baffles me most about this perplexing pooch is the daily routine he puts himself through where he is waiting for his close of day constitutional. The long walk to the post.
We both go. Together.
Except the weird thing is, is that he doesn’t have to wait.
He can go. On his own. At any time.
There are no fences keeping him bound. No lead that needs to be strapped to his collar. No commands that have been drilled into him that indicate permission given to leave the premises.
And yet, every day, he waits.
He could take this walk a dozen times a day if his paw pads could withstand the demand. But instead, he paces the floor, nudges my elbow, and slyly glances at the clock upon the wall—which he has repeatedly requested be replaced with a sun dial as he argues them to be more accurate.
I look at him each day and ask the question, “What are you waiting for?”
And like each one of us—with all of the things we’ve hesitated to do, suspended until later, or sidelined until our plate has cleared—he’s got no answer.
Yes, part of that is because we’ve not spent as much time on speech as we have hands on the clock or really reaching into the corners with the vacuum to get a good clean—and he is making great progress in those departments. But mostly, it’s because there really is no good answer.
I’ve got a million things I wish to do, want to do, and long to do, but the waiting game is a familiar routine whose grooved path is so deep it’s nearly impossible to scale out of. The waiting game even has a waiting room filled with distractions that float across my field of vision with false urgency. It’s a cozy place that serves an endless hot cup of tea, countless food porn pics, and the head-spinning flush of dopamine text alerts.
There are so many things hijacking life that life is getting in the way of living.
That walk is the most important thing to my mollycoddled mongrelized mutt. He waits and waits and waits and never gives himself permission to make it happen of his own accord.
It’s frustrating that I can’t seem to communicate that message to him yet. Maybe he needs to watch the Wizard of Oz just one more time
—to see Glinda burble up the phrase You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas—er the mailbox.
Or maybe … because we’re so very much alike, he simply needs to see me mirror that behavior.
Maybe … he’s really just waiting on me.
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