it's a dog's life

My Life as a Dog

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I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by the inclusion of two amazing dogs into my life, courtesy of my lover. She drops them off every morning. And we share a story and a kiss. The dogs run around, sleep, roam in the backyard, and by 5 or so they are shuttled back to her house for the evening. On the weekends is total emersion in dog love.

What I Learned About My Love Language

Sure, “touch” works, but I think “dog” is much more my relational style. (Maybe a new book: your love language based on your pets.) Here’s what Frodo, the male Cairn Terrier has taught me about myself. Everywhere I go, Frodo is there. If I head outside, he’s my companion. If I want to take a nap, he beats me to the bed. He’s a snuggler. He’s a lover. And he might suffer from a bit of anxiety or insecure attachment.

My style has also transformed Frodo a bit as well. When I first met both dogs they were avoidant and nervous. Neither of them really understood the idea of “lap dog” or cuddles. The Chihuahua mix, Gracie was clearly trapped in some trauma of her previous life before rescue. Today, however, both dogs crave connection and touch. My happiest place is when we’re on the couch with a dog under each arm. When I met Gracie she’d bark and head the other way when I went to pick her up. Today, she waits for me to pick her up to put her into her mom’s car. It’s as if she wants the extra cuddles and kisses.

So, I’m a bit like Frodo. I crave touch. I’m overly enthusiastic. I can get excited about simple things. And I’m a bit of a lap dog.

The Problem With Lap Dogs

In some previous relationships, my dog-like affection and goodwill were not appreciated. At first, it was what brought us together, my outward affection and their hunger. However, as the relationships evolved into more complex systems of compromise and prioritization, my lucky/happy dog routine was a vulnerability. I was so eager to be loved that I overlooked my own basic needs. When I wasn’t considered for a trip to Hawaii, for example, I just rolled with it and planned to reconnect with my partner when she returned. That never happened. I mean, she returned, but we never found our deep love again.

I am learning to be a loving puppy-like partner with a loud voice and clarity about what I need and what I want. I was quiet in that previous relationship. I was a bit depressed with the Covid shutdown and all. And my mode was one of an eager puppy. Even in the face of neglect and abuse, I would come running when given an opportunity to be loved.

I am still a bit of a lap dog, but I’d say I too have evolved a bit, like Frodo. My evolution has been more about self-care and self-awareness. Today, when I’m feeling misunderstood, I know it’s up to me and me alone to get clarity. Clarity on what I want. Clarity on what I need. And clarity on what I will no longer put up with.

Today In My Dog’s Life

It’s been a lovely day. (Thursday) I had my kisses and delivery of Gracie and Frodo earlier. I had a business meeting that went well. I even recorded a Coldplay song for fun. And the dogs have been in and out twice. At the moment they are sleeping on the couch. And I’m working on editing my video of Coldplay’s Amsterdam. I’ll get back to my work in a bit. Maybe have a nap with both dogs later. And tonight, I’ll see my sweetheart for the pickup and I’ll go play tennis with three friends tonight.

I’m just as dog-like and happy as I’ve ever been. I’m cultivating my Frodo-like personality traits. I’m also well aware of my somewhat unbalanced need to be loved by everyone. Today, I’m okay with being loved by two dogs, my girlfriend, and my two kids. That’s most of my universe.

Happy happy, joy joy.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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*image: Gracie on alert, Frodo ready for play.

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