Some of my favorite friends are dogs. Specifically, my dog Scout. With his soulful, bottomless chocolate orbs and patient intuition, I’ve never known a more dedicated companion.
Chronic illness has secluded me to the point of being homebound. Only recently, with the appearance of an unexpected prodding to reenter the world, have I ventured again into the land of humans without detrimental recourse.
Isolation has taken a toll on me. We often don’t recognize how crucial minimal interactions with others are to our overall well-being. During my time of complete isolation due to a compromised immune system and multiple chemical sensitivity, I often felt as though the walls were closing in on me. There is no tonic to ease the wound of the absence of human connection.
But there are dogs.
Scout loves me unconditionally. His willingness to share space with me for the past 13 years, no matter how many tears I’ve shed or tantrums I’ve had, is noteworthy. He knows the moment I need him to offer me a tail wag, and he continues to show up for me. Always.
Throughout the years, he and I have watched dear friends of mine fade into the past. With mild indifference, he has witnessed the temporary occupation of humans in our world. With perpetual commitment, he has remained a source of motivation during the most harrowing of times.
Despite my litany of unsavory health conditions, tormented nights spent thrashing in bed, and an overwhelming sense of instability, Scout makes no stipulations about my worthiness. When dawn comes, he will be ready to greet another chapter with me by his side.
His consistency is reassuring in the midst of continued unpredictability. A lack of confidence in my own abilities on any given day breeds fear. The familiarity of his routine provides me a gentle prodding to persevere. It is a reminder that I am needed.
He is a sacred digression from societal pressures. I often feel obligated to be more productive, maintain better personal hygiene, and spew clichés of positivity in the company of other humans. But I never do that with Scout. It is comforting to know that neither my employment status nor the state of my unruly curls matter to him. Whatever I am doing, Scout knows that I am his and he is mine.
The reemergence of his pink nose, golden fur, and serene wisdom at my bedside is a precious demonstration of love. I hope that I can embody a fraction of the magnanimity of my best friend, take it out into the community, and share it with others. In a society brimming with uncertainty and contention, may we all dig deep to harness our inner pooch.
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