Cathy Hamilton: The dog lover’s wife
September 2, 2010
"How's my beautiful lady?" he coos, in a voice thick as syrup. "How's my girl? I'm so glad to see you. Did you have a nice day? I missed you so much. You're the cutest girl in the world. Yes, you are. The cutest girl. … "
I sit silently on the sofa, witnessing this extraordinary display of affection, repeated every evening for the last year.
"Be patient," I say to myself. "Wait for it … "
Finally, my husband looks up from the love fest he's having with our pooch.
"Oh. Hi, honey. I didn't know you were home," he says, flatly.
And why should he? After 30 years of marriage, I don't wait at the window until his van pulls in the drive. I don't run to him, tail wagging, as he walks through the door. I don't dribble on the floor in excitement when he pats me on the back (although those days are coming, I'm sure).
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Ah, but maybe I should. Then, I might get my tummy rubbed. Or scratched behind the ears, at least.
OK, I'll admit it. I'm jealous of the dog. Paging Dr. Freud! Or, should I say, Dr. Doolittle?
On an intellectual level, I'm cognizant of what's happening here. I took psych classes in college. I read "Psychology Today." I watch "Dr. Phil."
It's not hard to understand why a man would be enamored with a creature who is fascinated by his every move, will play with him at the drop of a hat and who follows him around, lays at his feet and waits silently for the slightest sign of attention.
And, there's your a-ha moment, ladies: Dogs don't talk.
They don't chatter away while a guy's trying to watch a game on TV. They're not constantly asking "Does my butt look big?" or "How's the hair?" Dogs don't pry by saying, "What are you thinking?" when all he's thinking is, "Why must she always freaking know what I'm thinking?"
And, they'd never criticize a man who chooses to wear the blue Hawaiian shirt with the coconuts on it yet again to dinner (just as a random, totally fabricated example).
I understand that. I get it. To men, silence is golden.
So, would someone please explain why I can't get four words out of the guy, yet he's constantly jabbering to that dog?
"Want to go outside? Are you hungry? Eat your breakfast. That's good stuff, isn't it? What'd you do with your ball? Want a biscuit? Want a treat? You're such a good girl. You're so pretty. Those other dogs, they think they're pretty, but they're not. You're the prettiest girl. I love you. Yes, I do. Come here. Come to Daddy. … "
I broached the subject with a girlfriend and fellow dog owner the other day. She listened intently to my story, then showed me a photograph on her phone. There was her husband, lying on the grass with their golden retriever, spooning. They looked like John and Yoko.
"He loves that dog more than me," she said. "I accept that."
"Women are complicated. We're high maintenance," she went on to explain. "Dogs are easy. Keep them fed and their bedding clean, and they're happy campers. If given a choice, men will always take the path of least resistance. Besides, I figure at least it's not another woman."
I pondered her logic. Could it really be that simple? And, if she's right, whom would my spouse choose to save from a sinking boat: Lucy or me?
I decide to pose the question to my betrothed, who is now fully engaged in Lucy's favorite rope game.
"Tug it, girl! Good girl! Good tug! You're not only cute, but you're strong, too. So strong. Those other dogs, they think they're strong and cute, but they're not … "
"Uh, honey?" I interrupt. "If a boat was sinking in the middle of the lake and you only had time to save one of us — Lucy or me — who would it be?"
He drops the rope and faces me, a look of surprise on his face.
"That's easy," he says, grinning. "You, of course."
I heave a silent sigh of relief as he returns to the game. Lucy may be his best friend, I think, but I'm still first in his heart.
"You're a much stronger swimmer than Mommy," he whispers in the dog's ear. "Yes you are. You could make it to shore, no problem."