Have you ever been loved by a dog? Not dog as in, “You need to leave that lyin’, cheatin’ dog,” or, “She’s a real dog, but has a great personality!” I mean an honest-to-goodness-four-legged-tail-wagging-bad-breath-in-your-face dog because, regardless of pedigree (yours – not the dog’s), nobody will ever love you like a dog. A dog’s love is unconditional and the only thing he expects from you is a lasting place in your heart. Did I mention that I’m loved by the best dog in the entire universe? That’s right. My dog, Pudge, is THE BEST DOG IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE. Please do not attempt to argue that your dog’s better. He’s not.
Pudge loves me more than anyone loves me. She loves me more than my husband loves me. She loves me more than my kids love me. When I get home after a two-week vacation or a five-minute errand, Pudge is so thrilled to greet me she cannot contain her excitement. She jumps and wiggles and wags her tail until she is completely exhausted, or I scratch her belly. Both of which cause her to flop limply onto her back. My husband and kids NEVER do that.
In spite of her shameless displays of affection, Pudge is dignified. When she first joined our family, we banned her from the furniture. Ignoring the ban, as would any self-respecting dog, Pudge defiantly snuck onto the nearest bed, chair, or sofa as soon as no one was looking. I always seemed to be the one to discover her insubordination and, in an effort to establish my pack dominance, took to throwing tantrums. Unfortunately, no amount of clapping, stomping, shouting or frantic motioning for her to GET OFF seemed to work. Simply put, Pudge would not budge. Not only would she remain inexorably planted wherever she was, reeking of entitlement, but she’d also sit ever so slightly taller with a prim look on her face and cast haughty, subtle, sideways glances my way as if to say, “I will not DIGNIFY your antics with a reaction.” This type of thing went on between us for a decade, until being the quick learner that I am, I decided it wasn’t worth the fight and lifted the ban. Pudge is, after all, dignified.
Pudge is 40 pounds of creamy, white Wheaton Terrier. Every so often –translation: every three weeks like clockwork — she gets “the works” from the dog groomer. It’s not exactly a spa day, but clipped toenails, a bath and a haircut keeps her looking (and smelling) presentable. On grooming day without fail and always within earshot, my husband declares, “Pudge, I see you had your $100 haircut today.” Grooming costs aren’t that ridiculous, however maintaining Pudge isn’t cheap either. She has issues. She has food intolerances and eats prescription dog food (cha-ching). She requires medicated shampoo to control chronic skin rashes (cha-ching). She takes antihistamines to control allergies (cha-ching). She takes Soloxine to regulate hypothyroidism (cha-ching). And as if that’s not enough, she still needs annual check-ups and shots like a normal dog (cha-ching-cha-ching-cha-ching). My husband was determined not to like Pudge when we first adopted her, but eventually she won his heart. Still, he calls her “Money-Pit.” I call her THE BEST DOG IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE.
Once, when Pudge was just a puppy, my youngest son asked, “Mommy, when Pudge looks in the mirror, do you think she’s surprised to see a dog instead of a person?” Yes, indeed. I’m convinced Pudge believes she is a person. In fact, there are even times when I fleetingly believe, “Pudge, you are a person trapped in a dog’s body,” but then, I know this is impossible. You see, Pudge loves me more than anyone will ever love me and the only thing she expects from me is a lasting place in my heart. She’s earned it. She’s THE BEST DOG IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE. She’s my dog…Pudge.