What is it with dogs? They love me these days.
Some friends have a Border Collie. Bonnie is delightful. She does lots of tricks, including jumping over a stick or through your arms if you make a big hoop shape with them close to the ground. In short, she is as sharp as a tack, except when the herding/chasing instinct takes over. Then she is off like a shot, chasing whatever is moving. This includes any birds or airplanes that happen to fly over. Seriously. It is very funny to see.
I have never done anything to cultivate Bonnie's friendship except be nice to her in a normal visitor kind of way. But she loves me with a capital L. When I show up she wags her whole body and leans against me, looking up into my face with her peculiar lower-teeth-showing-only doggy smile. I greet her and pat her, and it is hardly enough.
One of Bonnie's best tricks is that she will play dead in very dramatic fashion. She will sit at attention, eyes focused on her master's face, waiting for the fateful words "dead dog." When she hears them, she flops over with all 4 feet in the air and a suspiciously mischievous grin on her face.
This is especially great because you can ask her any question that pertains to a visitor and get the answer you want. Got a Navy man in the house? Ask Bonnie, "Would you rather be in the Navy or be a dead dog?" and blam, there's your answer. Got someone who likes to go shopping? Ask Bonnie, "Would you rather go shopping or be a dead dog?" and yes, you guessed it. It's a major parlor trick.
The other day, I was complaining that wherever I went, I always wind up carrying a bunch of things with me. I said I needed a butler, like the royals have, to follow me around and tote my stuff. One of my friends suggested that Bonnie might enjoy that job, and our lighthearted joking led to the inevitable question, "Bonnie, would you rather be J.G.'s butler or a dead dog?" Whereupon Bonnie jumped up and dashed over to sit next to me! Talk about melting your heart.
Another friend has a dear little Sheltie who is as charming and sweet as can be. Again, I've never done anything to curry his favor, except be nice to him. I always greet him when I come to the door. I don't question him about his squirrel patrol techniques, though I hear he is not terribly effective at keeping the squirrels in line. When he is waiting for a door to be opened, I oblige, since I'm the one with the opposable thumb. If he walks past me, I usually put a hand down and give him a little pat.
But the other night when I arrived, he positively capered around me, dancing in a semi-circle, putting his front legs close to the ground and then leaping up in the air as though he was both greeting me and inviting me to play a game. If I was a dog I would not have been able to resist and we would have dashed off together to check on the squirrels. It was the kind of greeting normally reserved for a best friend, I imagine, if you're the best friend of the nicest person in the world.
Somewhere I read a quote that said, "My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog thinks I am." I've been a cat person for years now, but all I can say is, amen to that. I definitely get it. And it's a lot to live up to.