This dog

I am a bit groggy this morning — this candle isn’t really designed to burn at both ends — and Willow seems groggy, too, a little more than a week shy of her 12th birthday, which will make her 84 in dog years if you cotton to that stuff.

She holds her head up, as best she can, as if to say, “If he can be up this early, I guess I can, too” — my canine companion, never very far away unless I’ve left her behind to bring bacon home.

Is she mine, or am I hers? Now there is a question.

We bring animals into our homes and call them our belongings, but could it be that we have simply agreed to belong to them? We caress and massage them, feed them, open doors for them, and protect them fiercely if necessary.

Some people ask for work in return — “OK, retriever, go retrieve the duck, that’s a good boy” — but most of us are just glad for the company, and the unconditional love. At least it feels like love and caring, and they’re better at it than we are.

This dog doesn’t have to lie at my feet — there are plenty of places to rest her head and sleep the rest of the night to dawn — but she holds her head up groggily and keeps me company, because that’s what she does.

I can’t help loving her for it.

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