Tuesday, October 4, 2016

I Don't Want to Grow Up

They say (whoever "they" are) that owners look like their pets.  The longer one lives with a certain pet, the more that person starts to look like the pet, though I think more factors in to this extremely unscientific theory.  One must not only live a long time with a pet, but also have a very strong attachment and bond with said pet.

I think I'm beginning to look like my dog.  Or maybe she looks like me. When I first adopted Tess, I thought maybe she looked a little like me, mostly because she was small, sleek and thin, and she had a big beak.  At thirty years old, I too was small and thin with a big nose.  Also  my hair was falling out and Tess sheds constantly.  I vacuum up enough fur every week to make a whole new Tess.  When I was thirty I was losing the equivalent of another head of hair.

I also have a tendency to exaggerate, and every movement Tess makes is an exaggeration.

Not only do I look like my dog, I act like my dog.  In the beginning Tess and I had similar energy levels.  Hers was higher of course.  She bounced off walls, launched herself off the top landing of the stairs, crashing into the kitchen cabinets, and she would walk and walk walk and never get tired.  Swimming is her favorite physical activity.  It's one of mine as well, though I prefer dancing over swimming.  Tess likes to dance too.  It's just harder for her on four paws.  I could keep up with her when I was thirty and she was a year old.  We would walk three hours every day, and on weekends we'd cover five miles.  We'd go hiking and swimming, play ball in the back yard, and run around the dog park for a couple of hours.  Then I'd go home and practice my belly dancing.

Ah, those were the days of infinite physical activity.  Now just a ten-minute Pilates session wears me out.

We have similar eating habits.  Tess is not a food motivated dog.  I'm not a food motivated person, though we both really like treats.  She likes her doggie pops and I like my Dove chocolates and wine.  Neither of us eats much and we both eat meals that are low in preservatives, fillers, and grains.  I still eat sugar.  Tess enjoys peanut butter, but most of her diet is made up of limited ingredients high in protein.

Because my dog is a spoiled rotten brat.  She also drinks Dasani water.

I'm kidding about the Dasani, but I am thinking of putting a filter into my faucet because my precious babies don't need impurities and fluoride in their water.

I figure if I'm spending a fortune on healthy eating for myself just so I don't feel like curling up and dying after a meal, I owe my dog the same courtesy.  When I first got her she was eating bowls of Pedigree and the pounds were just falling off her.  I could see her ribs and spine.  The vet informed me that she had an extremely high metabolism and Pedigree, like other commercial dog foods, is full of fillers and grains, stuff that just goes through a dog.  It either makes them fat, or doesn't stick to them at all.  Since I changed Tess' diet to limited ingredients and high protein, she's packed on weight and muscle.

She is not an overweight dog by any means, but she is definitely not that slim, sleek, small German shepherd anymore.

Incidentally neither am I.  I used to be quite small and slight myself.  I weighed ninety pounds in high school.  I managed to gain fifteen pounds in college (for me, the Freshman Fifteen were a good thing) and that was my weight until I hit my thirties.  While I am not overweight by any means, I've definitely noticed an increase in my size.  Not only am I spreading out a bit, I have a tummy now.  I've never had a tummy before.  Also, I'm not thrilled about my tummy.

I spend a fortune on healthy food for me and my dog, and we exercise.  We still gain weight.  Go figure. 

We have reached middle age.

We are similar in personality as well.  She's anxious, I'm anxious.  She has nervous energy, I have nervous energy.  This means I pick at my cuticles and she licks her paws obsessively.  She's a territorial homebody, I'm a territorial homebody.  She's bossy, opinionated, and doesn't take a lot of crap.  I don't know if I'm bossy, but I'm opinionated and do not suffer fools well.  Neither one of us is very social anymore.  She and I used to like to go out and be social. We'd go to the dog park and she loved to play with other dogs.  I liked to run around town and bar hop with my friends.  Now we stay home.  She hates other dogs.  I'm slowly losing my faith in the human race.  Both of us prefer the company of cats over our own kind.

Am I mirroring my dog, or is she mirroring me?

One thing I've noticed lately is that neither of us ever grew up.  This really started to occur to me this past weekend as I watched Tess on our walks.  She kept trying to play with Surina. Surina is a nice dog, but she isn't really a playful dog.  She is four years old, but is more interested in food, birds, or her master.  Tess is nine and a half years old and she still behaves like a puppy.  On the rare occasions I still take her to the dog park, she plays with the puppies, preferring their company to older dogs.  The younger the dog, the more she likes it.  After the initial scrap between Tess and Surina, they have settled into a tolerance of each other in my backyard or in the house. Tess has tried several times to engage Surina in play.  Her invitation is to bound up to another dog, tail up, and a big goofy grin on her face with her tongue hanging out.  At the dog park, puppies will leap at her and either roll across the ground in front of her or allow her to chase them.  Surina puts her nose to the ground and sniffs, ignoring Tess and everything around her.  Surina is a hunting dog, after all, but Tess can't seem to understand this.  The disappointment on her face when her play invitation is rejected is apparent, but she soon gets over it and chases a butterfly or something. Tess is technically a working dog too.  Had I ever bothered to train her in agility or nose work, she probably would have been very good at it.  The problem is Tess wants to play all the time.  Her reward for good behavior isn't doggie treats or food.  She's never cared for doggie treats or food.  A pat on the head or a "Good girl!" work a little better, but what really works is to give her her favorite squeaky toy and engage in a few minutes of play. 

Tess should have lived in a family of little children who would play ball with her all the time.  Tess' idea of playing ball is actually playing keep away because she doesn't fetch, but it's still more fun than herding sheep or doing police work.

Watching Tess it occurred to me that I am just as big of a child.  Tess is a nine-year-old puppy.  Everything is a game to her.  I'm a thirty-eight-year-old child.  I watch cartoons.  My favorites are still old school Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Animaniacs, and Jem.  I love stuffed animals and my house is full of them.  My newest one is the giant stuffed Dumbo my friend gave me.  I once spent $150 dollars on a huge stuffed bear.  In my defense, the bear was a donation from Bank of the West to our annual fundraising library auction, so technically my money went to a very good cause.  I tell myself that, but I still spent $150 on a stuffed animal.  I like toys of all kinds.  I like puzzles and board games, and I still have my collection of 80's My Little Ponies and all my Disney dolls.  I still love things that I loved in my childhood like animated Disney movies, the Monkees, and the Ninja Turtles.  This enthusiasm for all things childlike - particularly the animated Disney movies and Star Wars - is shared by my new friend, Surina's master.  He also loves cartoons, old toys, puzzles, and board games.  We actually had a discussion about our favorite cartoons before and yes, we both buy DVD's of these favorite cartoons so we can watch them whenever we want.

Then there is our immature amusement at bathroom humor.  For some reason, every time either he or I or Surina or Percy passes gas we about die laughing like it's the funniest thing we've heard all week.  I don't know why and he's mentioned before he doesn't know what's wrong with us, but for some reason we can't seem to control ourselves around each other, and then we can't control our laughter.  One night after a particularly musical number of his, I collapsed on the floor unable to breathe for about five minutes thanks to the hilarity that ensued.  Surina left the room with a look of disgust.  Tess does the same thing.  She has freaked herself out before by passing gas and then slinking off, like she's trying to escape her own bodily functions. Percy will clear a room when he lets one go.

It probably doesn't need to be said that Puckett does not do such disgraceful things and Willow is the only one of us who doesn't seem to have digestive issues.

It's no wonder my favorite children's book is The BFG by Roald Dahl.  Whizzpoppers are alive and well and still ridiculously funny even after all these years, and I've never been one to find bathroom humor all that funny.  It really isn't that funny.  For some reason my new friend brings out the child in me worse than anyone else ever has.  In public we are constantly laughing about nothing, just acting like goofballs.  We probably have people glaring at us with disapproving looks when we are out in public and I just know they are thinking "You are in your thirties.  Grow the hell up!"

But we can't, and neither can Tess.  She and I are perpetual children. In the past I've had people who tried to make me feel bad about that.  I have ex-boyfriends who didn't appreciate my nerdy, goofy side, and I've had people ask me when I was going to grow up and stop acting like a kid.  I've noticed, however, that children are quite happy playing all the time and keeping their innocence.  Watching Tess I see that same innocence I've seen in children.  She's an older dog with experience now, but that hasn't robbed her of her playful nature and her happiness when she's engaged in a game.  She's a happy dog and her joy is contagious.  Watching her makes me smile, just like watching little kids play makes me smile.  Playing is fun. Retaining one's innocence battles cynicism and depression.  Ignorance is bliss after all. 

I still like to swing.

Sometimes you have to stop taking yourself and life so seriously and enjoy the silliness and frivolity of it all.

Even if that means laughing at whizzpoppers.

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