Like ancient clippings dusted off and pulled out of an old trunk, the memories of those early crushes – the days of “puppy love” – seem far away and part of a never-to-be-relived era. Love now is of the steady, mature variety – the explosions of infatuation and hot fires of young love are replaced by the realistic, understanding love of a long-married couple trying to survive the day-to-day demands of navigating through life, and transitioning energetic boys into responsible young men.
Not a stage in life when you expect to fall under the spell of…puppy love.
Years ago, when we adopted two abandoned neighborhood kittens, we (and our boys) reveled in their energy and cuteness, a stage that we knew would not last long, as the little creatures transitioned into what all kittens eventually achieve – cat-hood. Having had numerous cats for pets, we knew the drill – our existence would soon become that of expendable providers of food and shelter, occasionally rewarded with a rub here or a purr there, but mostly tolerated by the recipients of our favor, who figured that a dead mouse every once a while fully justified their place in the household. A return of love? – maybe one could argue that we were a convenient familiarity, approximately on the level of a comfortable piece of furniture. Not more.
All of that changed two weeks ago, when Mystic, the black lab mix, left her litter of nine to join our family of 7 eagerly-awaiting humans, and two soon-to-be-thoroughly-annoyed felines.
The cats used to enjoy the run of the house – the bedroom level, the main living level, and the basement. Now, they cannot dash through the middle level fast enough, like a jilted girlfriend bumping into the new squeeze at the supermarket, and quickly remembering a forgotten item in Aisle 9. They seem to sense that their former servants have a new interest – puppy love has invaded the house.
Now, we love our cats, to the extent that one loves those who embrace your existence as a necessity. But Mystic, you see, wags her tail when we look at her. Mystic licks our faces. Mystic is eager to see us – she likes to play, to chase, to curl up next to us and be friends. It’s not that the incumbent pets were abusive or anything – they’re loyal and predictable and clean up after themselves. But while they prefer to keep their distance, Mystic can’t wait for the next round of hugs and roughhousing. Every day is a date, every passing moment is a passion moment.
Mystic, like most dogs, doesn’t get the idea of neutrality, or cool reserve. She had litter-mates for nine weeks, but now everyone is a playmate. Awake means affection; asleep means fueling up more energy for – well, puppy love!
She won’t be a puppy for long, of course. Canine-human love matures as both pet and master grow older. But as the kids start to leave the nest, and as the cats continue to make their relatively stingy deposits in the bank account of bonhomie, it will be a delight to have a friend who continues to love unconditionally, with tail-wagging eagerness and readiness to play chase in the yard.
Welcome, Mystic. We’re glad you’re aboard for the ride!
(photo by Nate Woodruff)