The other night, I sat at my desk trying to wrap up a few last things. My dog decided I had already been working too long. He came over, tail wagging, playfully bouncing, and stuck his nose under my mouse hand, knocking it away from the mouse. When I turned toward him, he jumped up to put his front paws in my lap and started licking my face and pushing at me with his head, clearly trying to motivate me to get out of my chair.
When I stood up, he started racing around in circles, tail going so fast I thought it might fall off. I couldn’t help but smile as we began our evening routine.
Even though I don’t leave for work physically, I leave mentally. My dog has tuned into my work day and mostly just naps near by during the hours he’s come to expect me to be working. But when he needs to go out or is just tired of being ignored, he won’t take no for an answer. He’s become my alarm dog, telling me when it’s time to take a break if not put work away for the night.
I am reminded of something a friend said to me once about how people should greet each other the way dogs greet their people. That if we would dance around with wagging tails when we were reunited with friends, we would probably all be happier. It occurs to me that if we were all as willing to express our feelings and our needs so unambiguously, we’d probably all be a lot happier, too.
I rarely know what I need. Even really basic stuff like needing to use the restroom. I will be in the midst of my day hopping from one conference call to the next and have a vague notion that perhaps I should take care of one of life’s most basic and unavoidable needs and then forget until, hours later, comes a sudden moment of urgency that cannot be denied or postponed.
Not knowing what I need makes it nearly impossible to ask for it. I am surprised and delighted every time my husband magically appears to deposit lunch in front of me. Realizing I forget to notice when I’m hungry, my husband makes sure I have something to eat without me having to stick my nose under his mouse hand. I think it’s the most romantic gesture there is, except maybe when he does laundry.
But since he often shows up with lunch in the middle of my work day while I’m in the middle of doing work, I don’t jump up and run around in circles wagging my tail. He’s lucky if I make eye contact with him and smile before he returns to his own busy day. Perhaps I will give that a try on Monday. Note to self: jump up, wag tail, run around in circles excitedly when Pat brings me lunch.