It was a Friday night after a long week, a long day at work and a long drive home. I walked into my house to find an uninvited, unwanted guest. Well, he was uninvited and unwanted to me. My husband had brought home a houseguest without consulting me at all. And this houseguest was not temporary, he was to become a permanent part of our household. His name is Rusty and he is a three year-old brittany spaniel.
Confession: I am not a dog person, never have been. Its not that I don’t like dogs, dogs are fine animals. I don’t care for dogs in my house. Most dogs I’ve known in my life have been loud, hyperactive, messy, destructive and smelly. I know, dog people everywhere are throwing things at their screens and calling me names. I understand. Dogs have just never been my cup of tea. I’ve always been a cat person.
Not to mention, I have always felt that taking on a pet is a huge responsibility and not something to do on a whim and most certainly not something to spring on another person without notice or against their wishes. So to say that I was unhappy with this turn of events would have been an understatement.
I kept my eye on Rusty the first couple of days. I was kind and tolerant of him but I didn’t go out of my way to welcome him with open arms. It was obvious that he favored my husband and stayed by his side whenever possible, laying at his feet or curling up next to him. When my husband came home, Rusty greeted him enthusiastically, his joy at seeing his favorite person evident in his body language. Rusty would follow him from room to room, just wanting to occupy the same space as his best friend.
My kids took to Rusty immediately. They showered him with love so he bonded with them quickly as well. He would lay next to them and watch them play. He was gentle with them, as if he realized that they were smaller and more fragile than my husband. He would lay next to them and put his head in their laps. At night he would go between their two bedrooms, sleeping next to one bed and then the other. I started to notice that not only did he want to be near them but that he also took a protective stance when he was around them.
Rusty quickly began to win me over. He was a very well-behaved houseguest. He was fully trained, so he did not have any accidents on the carpet. He did not bark or chew. He didn’t even smell that bad. When it was time to go outside, he would sit very patiently and calmly, waiting for the leash to be clipped onto his collar. He had a very calm demeanor, very reserved. He even got along with our cat, Gracie. He was really unlike any other dog that I had known. He liked to be around me, but also seemed to know exactly how much space that I needed. I noticed an intelligence in his eyes, an ability to assess.
One day, he was laying next to me and he gently put his paw on my arm. “What’s he doing?” I asked my husband.
“He does that. He wants you to pet him.”
I looked into his eyes and it was almost like I could see into his gentle soul. I pet his head and he immediately rolled over and exposed his stomach. I gave him a belly rub. And just like that, we were friends.
Rusty has been with us for a couple of months now. We go on walks and runs together. I give him daily hugs and belly rubs. I don’t mind when he curls up next to me or wants to jump in the bed with me. He is a cuddler and absolutely shameless about it. I love watching him with my kids. He so openly and caringly accepts their love (even my 5 year-old who sometimes, in her excitement and exuberance, forgets to be gentle). He shows quiet but fierce loyalty. He has so completely and effectively carved out a place for himself in this family with such grace that it has impressed me.
And he has done what no other dog before him has been able to do. He has made me a dog person.
Day 6 prompt: Today, you’ll write about the most interesting person you’ve met in 2014. In your twist, develop and shape your portrait further in a character study.