My dog has very expressive eyebrows. Same with his ears. They perk up when I’m talking. If he suspects I’m talking about GOING to the PARK for a WALK his head starts to swivel sideways until it’s at about a 90 degree angle. “Are you a GOOD BOY?” He looks like he’s considering it, but really, he’s not sure. He’s less interested in philosophical questions than in COOKIE. Crustulum, ergo bonum. (Sorry, Spike only speaks Dog Latin)
Most of our worries exist only in the realm of fantasy. We may worry the appropriate amount, but generally about all the wrong things. These are things we can’t know and can’t do anything about, such as what other people think of us or what they are going to do. We lose power by spending all our energy thinking about things that are outside our sphere of influence.
Whether what other people are wearing can actually be defined as “pants”
Why other people are “idiots”
Why other people don’t think what I think
Why other people listen to such awful “music”
What other people think when they look at me
Explain these things to my dog. He’ll listen, at least for a while, after which he may just flop over and take a nap. I recommend taking a nap with him. Better prop a pillow or something over your face, though, in case he decides to start licking your ears, which he will.
These are things Spike can understand: The weather. (Hates rain, loves snow). Hunger and thirst. Bedtime. (Naps good, bedtime WHY NOW). Personal hygiene. (Bath time bad. Towel good. Toothbrush bad. Toothpaste good). Exercise (the more the better). Toys. (BALL!) Sharing and playtime. Jealousy and power dynamics. (Big dog, small dog?). Surgery. (Cool story, bro, now let me tell you about the time I got “tutored.”) Medication. (He has Addison’s disease, and he’s been taking pills so long that he seems to understand he needs them to feel good). Loneliness and friendship. Trust and suspicion. Personal boundaries (kinda). Dreams, good and bad. Scary loud sounds. Interesting smells. SQUIRREL.
The great thing about animals is that they accept you as you are. They may actually like you better if you’re smelly. They probably don’t care if you can’t sing (at least my parrot doesn’t) and they’re in no position to judge the aesthetic merit of your painting or pottery or poetry. They may not even care about the technical competence of your culinary skills. They don’t care if you screw up the punchline or have a bad hair day. You’re here, you have a lap; it’s all good.
Let’s have a sample discussion with Spike and Noelie.
“I need a shower.” Noelie: Can I go with you? Spike: I have a sudden urgent need to check something under the bed.
“It’s lunchtime.” Yes, lunchtime!
“I’m having a bad hair day.” Spike: You call that hair? Noelie: Sorry, what? I was kissing the mirror.
“Someone is wrong on the Internet.” ???
“Those people were mean to me.” Spike: That’s their pack, this is our pack. Noelie: You can chew on my wood block if you want.
Taxes. Politics. Worrying about becoming a bag lady. Mentally rehearsing conversations that haven’t happened and never will. Phantom reviews. Anything on the news that does not involve a natural disaster in progress at our house. “Forgetting” to eat. Staying up too late even when we’re tired. Clothing sizes. Fashion do’s and don’ts. Celebrity gossip. Catastrophizing. Impressing people. Bad memories from childhood. Explain these things to an animal. It’s comforting.
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I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.