Just recently I was dreadfully ill. It was terrible. I looked like one of those sad sacks you see in the Nyquil commercials with tissues balled up all around a ratty quilt; my face red and swollen; eyes watering and I moaned out “uuuuggghhh” a couple times every five minutes. While I (obviously) wasn’t able to do my job there was someone in the house still able to do theirs: my dog Rufus. His job? To love me. Easy, but not simple. There is a big difference.
Some dogs have pretty exhausting jobs. Border collies herd sheep. German Shepherds hunt drug dealers. Saint Bernards sniff out avalanche victims. Most of these dogs do their jobs pretty darn well in comparison to human standards. They don’t demand pay raises, engage in office politics, and leverage other offers to score more vacation days from their bosses. They do what they’re supposed to do without hesitation and for that they deserve nothing but praise from us.
Rufus has got a pretty cushy gig I must say. He’s got hobbies to keep him busy, like scaring the mailman, scaring little kids on Halloween, scaring blackbirds from the back yard (hmmmm, I’m just now realizing his hobbies share a common theme centered around inciting fear). He loves to scare things when he has the free time, but when he’s on the clock all he has to do is love me. And let me tell you, he does his job remarkably well. He’s right by my side while I work and offers an ear whenever I have to curse at my computer screen. Each time I leave the house and return, he greets me at the door with a frantically wagging stub of a tail that lets me know that in his mind there’s no difference in whether I’m gone for 8 hours or 5 minutes (seriously Rufus….I was just getting something out of the car!).
But Rufus isn’t just a warm drooling body to have by my side and look cute. He’s also very emotionally intuitive. He knows when I’m sad and changes his behavior to accommodate my mood. For instance, I swear he notices when I tear up during a sad movie because he’ll saunter over with those huge dark eyes of his and rest his head lovingly on my lap. If I heavy sigh, he immediately jumps up to search for the culprit behind my exasperation (usually a cat). He knows when I’m sick… and in turn he poises himself to launch an attack against whatever demon might erupt from my nose whenever I sneeze. He always rushes along beside me whenever I need to venture into the scary recesses of the bathroom. I don’t have to be afraid of whatever may be lurking there as I do my business or shower… he’s got it covered. If he’s not on the bed sleeping at night, he’s beside it or under it and if he hears me sit up, he’s immediately at the ready to follow me wherever I might be headed… whether it’s to the aforementioned danger filled bathroom or simply a quick trip to the kitchen for a glass of water — he’s got my back.
And that bout of sickness I talked about at the beginning of this entry… he never left my side the entire time, bless his ever-loving little heart. I knew he was getting a little cabin fever and wanted to do a blackbird sweep but, still, he was always right there in bed with me while I felt like death warmed over.
My kids laugh at me because of how much I spoil and dote over Rufus, but wouldn’t you? He does his job so damn well. And let’s face it, unconditional love is a fantastic rarity and whenever we have the chance to experience it, we should never take it for granted. Even if it sometimes comes with fleas.