An Open Letter to Dogs

Dear dogs,

Hi. I know you can’t read, but maybe a nice human can read this to you… If you’re lucky, maybe they can read it to you using funny voices. I know you’d appreciate that, the way you appreciate most things. Never change.

First off, can we talk about your tail? I’ve spent more time than is reasonable thinking about it. Wagging = joyful. Floppy = deflated. Standing at attention = do not F with me right now. So direct, yet poetic.

I maintain that the world would be a better place if humans came with similar mood barometers. We’d never get away with lying. We’d never get away with withholding our emotions. Related: If only politicians had tails.

Thank you, dogs, for showing me how exciting the world is. That bug walking across the floor, upon closer inspection, actually is quite fascinating. And the wind, that frustrating invisible nuisance. Where does it come from? Why can’t we make it stop? Don’t even get me started on the ball. HOW DOES IT ROLL? MAKE IT HAPPEN AGAIN. The world is full of witchcraft.

Thank you for reacting to my arrival like it is Christmas all the time. Even when I’ve only been gone for like five minutes. Even when I’ve just been in the other room. No one has ever been this excited to see me. Your boundless enthusiasm is just one of the reasons I love you.

We may not speak the same language, but our connection is deeper than that. Who needs words when you can see my soul? It is said that the mark of a good relationship is when you can just be together, enjoying each other’s company without feeling the need to fill the silence. So, it stands to reason that our relationship is kind of the best.

Many are the times with people — at a party or an event or whenever there’s an awkward conversational pause — when I think, “Why can’t you be more like my dog?” Or even, “Why can’t you be my dog?” Then I return home and you don’t expect anything from me and the world is okay again.

My heart swells and breaks every time you look at me with your eyes that resemble the oversized buttons on a vintage cardigan. Sometimes, I am certain you’ve unlocked the mysteries of the universe. Then you’ll eat some dirt from a potted plant and I have to rethink everything. Are you just trying to throw me off? Are you just doing that to appear humble? I really wonder.

You are the only part of movies that consistently makes me cry. They can kill off the villain, or even most of the human characters, but they better not dare touch the dog.

There are fewer smells more comforting than when you are near — warm and pleasant, like gently used popcorn. There is no sound more melodic than claws-on-floor, especially when they are headed in from another room. There is no feeling better than the way you crash into my side, then slide down and curl up like a seashell, to get an aggressively close cuddle. As Charlie Brown said, “Happiness is a warm puppy.”

On weeks like this one (and many others before it), you are both a port and an escape. Thank you for pulling me out of myself. For inspiring me to talk in silly voices. For reminding me to be tender.

Overhearing conversations between people can be fun, but overhearing conversations between people and dogs is even better.

“Rufus. You’ve got to stop barking at tourists.”
“Is that a McMuffin in that bush? Don’t eat that. We don’t eat things we find in a bush.”
“Brian! Don’t snap at the little dog! How do you expect to make friends?”

My grandma used to say that God only got one thing wrong — dogs should’ve been able to talk. I think about this often, because I agree with this assessment. But that’s second on my list, after wishing you could live forever.

In the meantime, though, I will treasure every moment we have together.

Oh, dogs. You may never know how much I love you. But I hope you do. How I hope you do.

Do you have a dog? Feel free to tag a photo with #cupofjodogs on Instagram — we would love to see them.

P.S. Good life advice and a dog Halloween costume.

(Photo of Mia the morkie by Caroline Donofrio.)