I want to be my dog

There are many times in my life that I would have liked to be my dog, but perhaps none more than right now.

In high school it would have been nice to be Sammie, my West Highland White Terrier, instead of a teenage girl navigating her way through the tumult that is teenage relationships. While I picked apart my looks and longed for a boyfriend, Sammie guarded our house from the squirrels that dared to climb our trees. She’d position herself on my bed, staring out the window at our front lawn until a squirrel appeared. Then, barking, she would dash down two flights of stairs to the den’s sliding glass doors to get a closer look at the invader. Alas, those doors led to the backyard, so she would dart back up the stairs and onto my bed. If the squirrel was still there, back down she would go… up and down the stairs, never distinguishing the front yard from the back. I’m sure Sammie thought those squirrels were taunting her, but I can’t imagine their teasing was more hurtful than finding out that the boy I liked didn’t like me.

This October, after Superstorm Sandy slammed into New Jersey, it would have been nice to be Galen. My family was lucky; we may have lost electricity, water, and about a dozen trees, but our home’s structure is as sound today as it was before Sandy blew through. All I have to do is drive around town or watch the news to know we got off easy. But the day after the storm, as I huddled with my husband and two daughters in front of the fire burning in our wood stove, concerned about friends and family, unable to flush a toilet, fearing we would lose all the food in our refrigerator and freezer, Galen was the picture of happiness. And why wouldn’t she be happy:  On what other Tuesday would her family be home with her? I remember thinking, “At least the dog is enjoying herself.”

And most recently, after losing my dad to cancer, it would be especially nice to be Galen. Then I wouldn’t feel the pain that’s waiting to greet me once the numbness goes away.

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