My teachers the Engelharts like to say, “If you want comfort get a dog.” By this they suggest that human relationships are sticky and can be hard to manage, to negotiate. Unlike humans, dogs are easy to handle and provide a source of comfort. As a dog owner who’s done a lot of interpersonal work on herself, I totally understand this sentiment.
I adopted Billy about a year and a half ago while working at Google. I will always be grateful for their dog-friendly culture which provided me the benefit of being able to bring him work. Without it, I never could have justified owning a dog in San Francisco given my long commute, full-time schedule and small condo which would leave little time and space to adequately take care of a pet.
Of course, within a few months of adopting my adorable Terrier/Chihuahua mix, I turned into a self-professed crazy dog lady. Here are some examples of what happened:
- I took Billy everywhere — work, Healdsburg wine-tasting events, movies, dinner parties, you name it. If Billy was not welcome, chances are I wouldn’t go. Billy was not allowed in my friend’s condo when she invited me to brunch since she was concerned about her pricey, new hardwood floors. Understandable but I never went to her home again.
- I thought often and deeply about things like matching his collar to his new dog tag. Red and purple did not sufficiently match.
- I would — and still do — swear he talks to me. And I love it when he sings — especially in the mornings when I rub his tummy and he coos and moans in accompaniment to “You Are My Sunshine.”
- I figured out how to attach a pet carrier to my Italian road bike even though it wasn’t designed to fit. Other physical activities, like roller skating and skate boarding, became more appealing since I could do them with Billy.
- I started to judge new people I met based on how they greeted Billy. If they complimented Billy, I immediately thought they were a good person.
- A new pastime is reading blogs about people who travel the world with their pets.
- I plan to celebrate his next birthday rather than my own. Hats and streamers will be provided. Cake will be served.
Get the picture? Well, as important as Billy was to me in SF, he is even more important to me now that I live in Panama. In and of itself, moving to a new country is a big undertaking. Add to that a change of living situation — from living on my own to living with my parents — plus a change of career, different language, and new climate and things get hairy very quickly. To be sure, a lot of things are different, which is good, but I have to admit, transitioning to a new culture and lifestyle is a challenge.
What has not changed throughout this entire period, however, is where Billy sleeps. Just like in San Francisco, he burrows nightly under the my covers to reach the foot of my bed. Often I forget he’s there and inadvertently whack him with a leg in a toss or a turn. Likewise, The Maven doesn’t always know he’s contently snuggled under the sheets and walks slowly over him; Billy immediately responds with a serious — but cute — groan. You think we’d get used to Billy always being there since he always has been.
Without a doubt, Billy is my comfort. My experience instantly improves when I squeeze his chicken breast sized torso. My mood lightens when I kiss his liver-colored nose. I smile watching him skip down the street. In a strong, tropical breeze, he is my trusty 8-pound anchor. As my guardian in being and furry little muse of unconditional love, Billy is the best.