Never did much like Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 43 all that much. You know the one, that starts:
"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways . . ."
It always just seemed too high flown and divorced from ordinary everyday existence to me . . . not much to do with actual "merried" life!! And yes, yesterday I rooted around and found those Vitamin D pills and calcium pills that I'd stopped taking myself when I discovered the much more yummy combo D+ calcium gummies . .. and presented them lovingly to my DH! Probably as close as I'm going to get to EBB's "ideal grace"!! He was graceful enough to accept 'em too . . . and I think he's actually taken a couple!
But: given our Henry's DOF support dog function in receiving the sideways comments we might without him address to each other ("You're so dogmatic!"), I was also thinking about how many people have acquired puppies during the pandemic. And all the different ways in which people have come to love their dogs more than ever!
Our Henry is not a pandemic puppy. He joined us in late July 2019 at 8 weeks old and came to work with us every day until we closed our office in late March 2020. But during this period of social distancing and relative isolation, we've probably spent more time with him than with any dog we've ever shared during our long marriage.
And so I was thinking about how much we have come to love Henry . . . and (apologies to EBB) counting the ways!
1. His wagging tail! Puppies don't wag their tails at first . . .it's something they learn! And we've tried to give him plenty to wag his tail about . . . he wags so hard his tail sometimes looks like a blur!! So appreciative of every thing we do for him . . .
2. All the kisses! Yes, those came very early. And when I returned from an in-person masked grocery run this morning (having decided that I absolutely needed to get some fresh bell peppers which express pick up could not provide . . .), he was waiting for me, up on his hind legs, with LOTS of kisses! Exuberant!!
3. His prance walk, when he's happy! Henry is a dog that swaggers, supremely confident . . .But I also love his backwards twirlies in both directions, and his "dancing with sticks" in the back yard, hurling them up in the air and catching them again! Henry is graceful, pretty much poetry in motion!! Such an athlete, taking pleasure in his own body and inspiring me to keep moving mine!!
4. His hilarious sense of humour . . . all of his multi-step distractions and deft pouncings!! And big grinning smiles when he's successful in out-foxing us (which happens pretty much every day).
5. His quiet companionability, while we work on our computers, or chat, or read, or bird watch -- listening for bird sounds, following the direction of my gaze as I look up into a tree. . . Henry is even good company while I'm scrubbing a floor, intuitively moving out of the way as I work from area to area of the kitchen.
6. His encouragement to get outside and enjoy the natural world in every kind of weather, every day. Rain, sun, blowing leaves, snow. Spring, summer, fall, winter -- they're all good: winter maybe his absolute fave, in fact.
7. His incredible communication skills -- Henry doesn't bark much (although he CAN be fierce) but he's very expressive. Ringing his bells to go outside, using different vocalizations to ask for water (from the fridge dispenser with ice please!), requesting just a tiny piece of cheese, or letting us know somebody's at the door . . . he knows we're paying attention to him. And he recognizes so many words too, listening intently with his head tilted to one side, gaze fixed on ours: truly wanting to understand.
8. His ready participation in all of our silliness.
Well, that's only eight. And doesn't include my pleasure in his silky fur which smells so good when he comes inside after making snow angels, or his cold black nose, or just his sheer beauty. Because of course, he's a very handsome dog!
Does everybody love their dogs as much as we have always loved ours . . . stretching back over the years? Yes, it's just so lucky for me that my DH is as dog-crazy as I am! Both of us always sure that we could never love another dog as much as the current dog . . . mourning each dog at its passing . . . wondering how we could ever bring ourselves to have another dog . . . and finding there's always room in our expanding hearts for the new dog, because each dog makes his own place.
Handsome is as handsome does, dear Henry!! And although you've come a long way from the puppy chewing and biting phase (good thing puppies are so cute), there might be room for a little more improvement in the comportment department!
But, you're not even two years old yet. And we're so aware that our dogs never live long enough -- their only real fault -- so we just want to enjoy every minute we have with you.
For now and now and now . . . let me count the ways!