why I admire my dog

First, there’s the fact that she doesn’t complain about being naked all the time.

In fact, we were just outside, in temperatures that were in single digits on the Fahrenheit scale, with powdery snow up to her shoulders. And she bounded out as if this were the most natural and joyous environment she could ever hope for.

She stretches. She invented “downward dog.” I lace up my shoes and she extends her forepaws forward, her rear end rearward.

If I say, “it’s time for dinner,” it is the most wonderful statement I could ever audiate, and she pirouettes in ecstasy as I pour water into her bowl. She has no words, and yet I know: This is the second best idea I’ve had all day; second only to my suggestion, “would you like some breakfast?”

She believes that it is a good idea to chase deer, three of them in fact, up the slope of the mountain, crystalline snow up to her ears. She believes this is her job; and yet she comes back when I call her, but moans that she Must Chase the Deer. “On the trail,” I command, and she bounds forward, maybe in the hope that she’ll cut them off at the next bend.

There’s the floppy ears. Someday — and I don’t even want to mention this but we all know the truth — someday there will be The Day and I’ll just think about those soft ears. That will be years from now, and already I’m heartbroken about it.

And, without exception, at every junction of a trail, she will always (without exception, just like I already said) hedge her momentum towards the steepest path. We could have just crested a 2500 foot climb, hover over an entire basin and stare out across a great expanse of range, and she’ll suggest, “Maybe just a bit farther up the mountain?” She’ll sprint to the right, stop, turn to look at me. “This way,” I tell her, and it’s as though that’s still just as great of an idea, even though, truth be told, it’s not.

She’ll come home and curl into a ball and take a nap. But she won’t suggest anything but kinetic energy until her paws are wiped clean of snow or mud, and until after she’s had her dinner.

If I were a better man, I’d be this dog. I would wait for you to pour a drink and head downstairs to watch 50 minutes of previously recorded TV so that I could spend just that much more time with you, curled up on the plush blanket and dream of chasing those deer. Maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow I will catch those deer, or that rabbit; or maybe not. Maybe I’ll just let you think that this is what I dream to do, and you’ll keep taking me outside, naked, in 10 degree (Fahrenheit!) weather, and we can climb mountains and bound through snow together.

This. This is my role model. Because the steeper climb, the colder air, and the impossible chase — these are what we should all strive towards.

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