Of Sweethearts and Staying

Dearest Friend,

We have a dog. As is always the case with our pets, he was given to us by a friend whose dog gave birth to one puppy too many. His mother is a poodle; his father is a terrier. My mother named him Moteq, which is Hebrew for sweetheart. And although we never sat down and agreed on how his name is actually spelled – the popular variations are Motiq and Motek – our everyday living revolves around him. If he wasn’t at home, we probably wouldn’t have much to talk about.

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I Googled how many hours dogs are supposed to sleep, and the average count is 10 hours. Now, I’ve never really counted for sure, and because Moteq sleeps outside, I don’t know if he’s awake at night, but it seems to me like he sleeps more than the average 10 hours a day. The only time I see him awake is when he’s eating, taking a bath, running after cats, or jumping around and playing with us. He also spends a lot of time waiting. Whenever someone leaves the house, he waits by the door with the unshakable faith that the person who’s left will be back soon.

I don’t think I could ever muster such loyalty. That’s why seeing proof of it amazes me so much.

All my life, I’ve been a cat person. It’s something I’ve inherited from my mother’s side of the family – one of her grandfathers, my grandmother, and one of my cousins are all cat crazy. (During my grandmother’s funeral, we even took her favorite cat Sam with us to the cemetery, and of course, it disappeared for a while until we organized search teams and went around to look for it – it was a disaster.) I’ve always been a cat person, and I’ve always frowned at the blind loyalty that dogs have. Yes, I cried over Marley & Me but I hated bits of it, too. Why couldn’t the blasted dog be more standoffish, be more classy, be more reserved?

But when I look at Moteq and the way he waits for people who’ve left, something in my chest clenches. Although I’ll never be dog crazy, they will always make me feel things – gratitude, warmth, hope wrapped in one awkward tumbleweed – that probably no cat will ever pull out of me. So I’m thankful that we don’t have a cat, and that instead, we’re stuck with a fluffy white thing that weighs half of me and looks like a floor rug. I love that dog.

A.

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