Entry No. 1: Dog Approval is Like a Key to the City
I remember the exact moment when I realized I COULD love Ted.
Could and would? Not the same thing. But the feeling of knowing I COULD is something I won’t forget. When the signature “slip-sigh-combo” happened, I relaxed and looked at Ted in an entirely different way.
He survived the highest test. When he would finally meet my parents, brothers and friends nearly a year later, I was relaxed and fully at ease.
Lucy, and especially Stanley, after all, had already spoken…. Kind of.
I thought I was pushing the “meeting” too much and had doubts well before Ted walked through the door to pick me up for our second date.
I was worried.
I was anxious.
I wanted them to like him. I had finally become wise enough to trust their instinct. Their opinion of Ted would be my opinion of him. Ted and I had met through work. I liked him instantly. He was witty, hysterically funny, nice, charming and handsome. We exchanged great emails, texts and calls after our first meeting. More after our first date.
But none of that mattered until my pack signaled they were comfortable with the Texan who drove up in an enormous diesel pickup and pounded up the sidewalk to my door in his big boots– something this Cali girl wasn’t sure how to handle.
I gave Ted specific instructions: just come in and sit down to meet the dogs, so he wouldn’t tower over them.
Both Lucy and Stanley were abandoned at an early age. Lucy was rescued at just six weeks, so she is more forgiving to the human species. She is the momma’s girl 12-pounder with a hellacious under bite that comes off as a little dangerous. Ted was told to give her specific attention immediately. That’s how the Princess rolls in this house. Deal with it.
And Stanley. Oh, Stanley.
Stanley was badly beaten with injuries grossly neglected before he was abandoned in the fields of Central California. The San Francisco SPCA managed to swoop in and save him, so I could rescue him. It took two years of patience, thoughtful moves (including no more yelling, screaming, honking and dropping F-bombs when he was in the car with me) before he started to truly trust and love his life and his pack.
The doorbell rang, the dogs barked. Ted and I immediately sat on the couch. He was already rubbing Lucy’s belly (bonus points) and didn’t do anything to startle Stanley (major bonus points). Stanley quickly came back into the living room.
And that’s when it happened. I asked Stanley to come over and meet Ted. He was more than willing to come over, which blew me away. Then Ted started to pet him softly before digging into Stanley’s chin (triple bonus points).
But that slip from “sit” to that lazy “lay down” move that smothers feet and warms my heart? That was an epic sign from my big bear of a Great Pyrenees that meant he was comfy, relaxed and ready for anyone to either reach down with gentle hands and rub his chin more or just throw a shoe off and repeatedly rub his belly via foot.
Lucy and Stanley rule the Stevenson roost. In the nine and seven years I have been blessed to have them, respectively, in my “pack” I have come to realize many things, including: Their approval means everything.
Unlike humans, who judge for any number of reasons that could easily change because of the weather, the mail or the lack of ice cream in their lives, my dogs have just one goal: living a happy and safe pack life. Everything they do relies on that premise.
They love routine. They are loyal and loving. They know safety, comfort and the damage humans can inflict just as much as they know the warmth and care they have in our home. They provide me with laughter and comfort daily. I am a MUCH better person for being their dog mom.
I have, after some errors in my own judgment, come to rely on their instincts with people. I remember the man that I had invited over for drinks that had whisked Lucy away, like she was a diseased fly. Stanley wouldn’t come within 20 feet of him. They were right. He was a jerk.
There are, sadly, too many examples of Lucy and Stanley choosing correctly and either barking wildly or completely ignoring dates or other humans who have come (and all gone) from my life. DISH network people? Amazing! Plumber? Fuck off!
So the big Stanley sigh as he lays on Ted’s feet? The Lucy paw scratch demanding more attention as she sits on Ted’s chest? Him bending down to greet them first when he walks through the door?
Those are the things that tell me Ted is a kind and loving man capable of being part of our pack. Those are things that can make you love a man.