I am slowly learning that everything for which I once expressed disdain, I will someday make manifest. Forty-year-old writers still plugging away at their less-than-lustrous careers? Present. People stupid enough to ride motorcycles? Married one. Women who talk about their children's eating habits. Uh oh.
There was a time when I could lie, spooned against Woody’s back, flipping the velvety tip of his ear against my lips for an hour just to feel his warmth and softness. I used to sneak him into bed. I have picked actual fights, with actual insults hurled at my poor husband, over whether or not Woody should sleep with us (me: yes, Pete: no). When I first adopted Woody from the stinking cement slab at the pound I lost ten pounds from our daily brisk beach walks. Watching him frolic on the sand, running madly after the mission-in-life tennis ball, was something I referred to as “the transference of joy.” It made me happy to see him happy.
I have hours of video documenting my dog’s athletic prowess. When he jumped for the ball, sometimes soaring 8 feet straight up and covering a distance of almost five yards (I measured) my heart would stretch with pride. Throwing a ball for Woody at the dog park actually boosted my self-esteem. I often did that thing where I pretended not to notice the admiring attention of strangers, all the while basking in it. What, my blank face said, doesn’t your dog do that? It was the “transference of achievement.” Woody’s abilities made me seem able. His existence made me a better person. I was friendlier, peppier, possibly even prettier back when I loved my dog.