This week as I’ve gone back to work, I’ve noticed the usual changes in our dogs. They become less hopeful about going with me when I’m following the usual routine. In the mornings, they are generally a lot more low key. Bunny is content to go back to bed enjoy her quiet time in there. Flattery doesn’t move from the couch. Küster gives me a little fanfare as I head out the door, but it’s when I get home that I see more difference. That’s when I have to reach out and touch someone, actually, several someones.
When I get home, Bunny has to come and find me in the kitchen. As soon as I set my stuff down, she expects me to kneel down and pet her. I certainly can’t disappoint her royal highness, and it’s nice to see her when I get home. There’s just something about the way her little body can’t seem to get close enough to mine that’s entirely endearing, regardless of the day I’ve had.
As I move through the kitchen to the living room, Küster is leaning up against the side of his crate, batting his eyelashes at me outrageously and sitting even though his entire body is vibrating. There is no way I can pass by him and not stick my fingers in to scratch behind his ear and down his back. The way his face changes from hopeful to blissful always cracks me up and warms my heart.
For some reason, Flattery often waits until last. She’s the one who follows me into the bedroom and waits for me to turn around and notice her standing there. That’s when she will come up and lean her body against mine, usually hard enough that I worry she’d fall over if I moved away. When I lean down to pet her, her teeth start chattering and her eyes say that she has a lot to tell me about the day. Sometimes, I wonder if she waits for last to get more of my attention or if she has some other motivation.
As I met the new kids in my class this week, it struck me how much many of us rely on touch as humans. A lot of the kids held on to their parents. Others held on to me. It’s so odd to be sitting somewhere and have a little person come from out of nowhere and start touching you, either tapping your arm, rubbing your shoulder, playing with your hair or spontaneously hugging you. We often forget to reach out and touch someone, or how much touch means to us.
I think one of the things we love about dogs is that they often fill that void for many of us. As we grow up, it’s not appropriate to touch other people the way young children do. We’d call the police if some stranger walked up behind us and started playing with our hair outside of a hair stylist’s office. If someone walked up and started touching your arm, you’d most likely give them a serious stare. Yet our dogs can walk up to us and all our tensions melt away as we touch them. In a world where we’re becoming more and more disconnected from touch with people and attached to online interactions, our dogs are still there with warm affection and direct eye contact. I think they’ll help us keep in touch with our humanity.