... when you're constantly on the move, few things remain unchanged.

knowing unconditional love

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Baxter and Dorothy are truly opposites.  They're sensitive about different things; have different preferences regarding toys, games, food, people and social activities; and they comfort me in completely different ways.

Whenever I'm feeling ill - particularly with a headache or stomach troubles - there's no one better than Dorothy.  She can sense my pain from across the house and is there for me in an instant!  While I'm hurting she doesn't ever leave my side, following me room to room waiting for me to settle somewhere so she can plant herself on top of me.  Once in she's in this position, she won't stir or like me to pat her the way she normally does.  She'll tolerate it in an irritated sort of way, pointedly demonstrating the absence of her usual enjoyment because her job at that moment is to comfort me, soothe me.  She needs to ensure I'm feeling better, without seeking a reward for herself and somehow my patting her defeats that purpose.

She watches me with brown, understanding eyes and if I make eye contact she doesn't break it as she usually would.  During these times when I'm feeling ill, she holds my gaze and communicates with me how much she cares, wants to take away the pain and make me feel better.  I don't know how anyone wouldn't.


As Dorothy and I bond through silent communication, Baxter goes about his business as usual, totally oblivious to my suffering (well, he is a male after all :P).  He brings me every toy from his box until they're scattered all around where-ever I've made myself comfortable, hoping I'll choose one to play with him with.  There are balls brought in hopes of a throw, ropes in hopes of a tug, outside toys in an obvious let-me-outside-I'm-bored declaration, even the snuggle-buddy his sister sleeps with is dragged from her pen in desperation as he stands nearby and waits; excitedly wagging his tail.  After that doesn't work, he sits by the backdoor obviously staring at me hoping to be let out, completely indifferent to the angry scolds Dorothy and I both shoot his way, until finally he'll let out a deep, exasperated sigh and go off to take a nap.

Baxter is hopeless at comforting me when I'm sick.  His area of expertise and moment to shine is when I get upset. Truly, no living being has ever been better at comforting me when I'm upset or in a funk.  The comfort-angle he chooses is very different to his sister's one of empathy, it's one of cheek.  Another clear example of them being opposites since Dorothy hides when I'm upset, either not wanting to make it somehow worse or simply not wanting to receive any of my negative energy.

The whole thing usually begins when I start to cry.  Baxter's radar instantly picks up on this sudden atmospheric change and he's by my side in a flash.  His first response, while I sob, is to make his body as malleable and teddy bear like as possible.  He waits patiently as I bury my head in his fur, squeeze him, moan loudly in his ears and shake him all about as I hyperventilate.  This continues for as long as I sob, once I settle he takes charge of things and his mission is clear: cheer mummy up stat.  He starts by squirming out of my death-grip and positioning himself so that we're face to face, then he begins to actually kiss my tears away!  One by one as they drop he catches them or mops up an entire, preexisting flow.  No matter how upset I've ever been, I always take a moment to appreciate how special this moment is.  I often wonder, when both dogs are settled beside me on the couch, how many people miss out on experiencing true, unconditional love because they don't have dogs.

Back to Baxter: after he's licked every tear off my face, he ensures my hands are free by nudging whatever's in them out and then begins phase two of his mission: make mummy laugh.  He does this by positioning himself either on (if there's enough room) or beside me on his back, legs in the air and insists on me rubbing his belly.  This purely innocent self-gratifying act and the way he's convinced it will help me usually, at least, gets me to smile.  If after several minutes my tears still flow or I haven't laughed, Baxter brings out the big guns: a very special, last resort method of jumping up and forcing me to laugh by tickling my neck!  I don't know how he figured out this was a ticklish spot but he never, ever fails to cheer me up at this special op phase #3.  He breaths fast and loud, in and out (like puppies do) right beside my ear and neck, nuzzling me until I'm laughing.  When at last he's satisfied that I'm ok again, he holds his head high: regal and proud - another meltdown averted.  Mummy is smiling once more.


We've had Dorothy (unbelievably) just over a year and October marked three years with Baxter in our lives.  A one-of-a-kind, loving mutt and a funny, particular, sensitive, incredible poodle whose daily dose of intellect never fails to amaze me.  I often try but can't remember how I got through life before them.  How could I stand crying or ailing all alone?  Without a caring dachshund mix or a witty mini-poodle, how did I ever recover from anything?

These small dogs are two giant blessings in my life.  I know that all dog owners know that their canine companions never care about them looking unkempt or being unshaven, un-showered, sleepy eyed, having morning breath or garlic breath, being snotty or otherwise infected.  They don't shy away from or judge us in anyway, seeing past the surface appearance straight into our heart.

For all these and so many more reasons, I genuinely pity people who have gone through life without experiencing the true, unconditional love that can only come from having a dog.


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Sharing my stories of migrating from Australia to the US | travel adventures | married life | furry kids | new experiences | lessons | and loving life despite always missing home. xo.

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spring in Austin TX

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