“Okay Fate,” I say in a voice louder than I have to,” if you don’t want to come with me to my studio, that’s okay. I don’t care that there are three dogs in the house and I’m alone in my studio.”
Then I cringe.
This is one of the reason’s I didn’t have children.
That guilt thing runs through me on a genetic level. It’s not calculated, it just happens. And there I am guilting the dogs.
I even do it to Red. Red, the closest thing to a perfect dog as I’ve ever known. “That’s fine Red,” I say, “I know you’re not going to listen to me when Jon’s around. Why would you listen to me when you can listen to him?”
After I say it, I thank God that Red can’t understand me. That dogs can’t hear my manipulative tone.
This is one of the reasons dogs work for me and children don’t. (Another reason is that you can put dogs in a create when you go out or when they’re being annoying).
I never wanted children. Never even got the biological urge. Not when I was 28 not when I turned 40.
I don’t enjoy playing with kids and I don’t want to spend my days feeding babies and changing diapers.
Then Gus comes along with megaesophagus.
And suddenly I’m picturing myself feeding this little creature in a Bailey (high) chair and sitting with him on my lap so his food can slide down his esophagus (burping him) after feeding him four times a day.
For me, this is getting further away from “dog” uncomfortably close to “baby”.
(I fostered a motherless kitten once. And after spending one night getting up every four hours to feed her, I gave up.)
Jon always says “we get the dog we need“.
He insists that I have a latent nurturer in me.
At first I tried to deny it. But, over time, I’ve been able to see his point. I mean, I spent a good part of last weekend, giving all my plants showers (washed them in the sink or tub) and haircuts (pruned them and put the clipping in water to root.)
So do I need Gus?
Do I need a dog with needs that are dangerously close to the needs of a baby for some reason? To open up or develop a part of me that has been hiding, submerged in the horrors of childhood.
I don’t know. In many way, I’m still resistant to the idea. But here I am, holding Gus upright on my lap, after he eats. And now I’m singing to him too. Chanting with Krishna Das or making up songs about Gus to tunes like “I’m a little teapot”.
I don’t know if all this is making me a better person. A fuller and more complete human. But I’m doing it, because it needs to be done.
(Jon is shouting at me: “Let me take a video of you talking to your goldfish.”)
And because Gus is a good and sweet dog and I’m glad to help him if I can.
I have to go now.
It’s time to sing the “Gusophagus” song to Gus, Jon is about to feed him.
“I’m a little Gussie, short and stout, here are my big ears and my short snout...”
Why is everyone looking at me like that?
(After I wrote this piece, Jon took a video of me singing the Gusophagus song, so here it is….