I never had a dog growing up - I had other, less cuddly pets; birds, fish, hamsters and the like. Nothing I could wrestle or run with, nothing that would curl up at my side of the bed just to be near me.
Other girlfriends have had cats, but (as any dog person knows) a cat's love, while very fulfilling, is conditional, while a dog's love, once given, is perfect faith and friendship.
So it was with this dog. I loved walking him, I loved feeding him and watching him eat. It was incredibly meditative, the intensity and rhythm of his mastication. Once given permission, his focus became laser-like; he pragmatically dug in, cleaned his bowl, checked for stray bits and then returned his attention to the world around him.
He'd crawl under the desk while I was working and guard my feet. When I'd see him after several days of absence, he'd bound up to me in that joyful way dogs have. We'd immediately mute our elation at being reunited in deference to my ex-girlfriend's rules about him jumping up on people, but in our hearts we were rolling around on the ground of her East Village apartment.
Running was fantastic for both of us, as I had never had a dog to run with and he didn't get taken for runs as much as he would have liked - he was walked quite often but never properly tuckered out as he needed to be. One time, jogging along the East River, we ran down by the band shell on the Lower East Side. There's a jump up onto the concrete stage there of about 3 1/2 feet. I headed straight for it and leapt up (I'm a bit of a jumper), giving him enough advance slack to either try it or avoid it as he saw fit. He jumped - right into the concrete. At full speed. My heart stopped for a moment, watching his canine carcass slamming into the hard rock face and tumbling onto the ground. My fear was short-lived however; he immediately sprung to his feet and tried to scramble up the ledge again. Fear turned to elation watching him try a second, then a successful third time. When he made it up, he practically tackled me with happiness, jumping up and down around me, so proud of his accomplishment. I had to maintain a dominant position, of course, as he has had a history of negative rambunctiousness, but inside I was secretly deliriously proud. In that moment he was MY dog, and when we stopped in the park for water and grass, I felt a kind of peace I'd never really experienced before in my life.
Tonight, walking to the market in the rain, it seemed everyone chose that exact point in the hour to walk their dogs. My eye and mind deconstructed different parts of the dogs I passed and reassembled them into my friend; that was his snout, those were his eyes, there wags his tail. My throat tightened knowing I'd probably never see Mister Tallulah Raisinfarm again, and then I walked into the store.