They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder.
But sometimes it wises the heart up.
To explain, last week I had to go to New York City to sit on a panel for the New Yorker Book Festival.
I know, right? So literary.
I got my roots done. I drew in my eyebrows. I did not embarrass the family. And still I was comic relief.
Anyway, my bestie Laura house-sat for me, because I have four dogs and a cat. While I was in NYC, I called home to see how everything was, and Laura said everything was fine, but in the background, my dogs were barking constantly.
So I asked her, “What are they barking at?”
And she said, “I don’t know. They’re just barking.”
I said, “Do they do that a lot?”
“No,” she answered, but I could barely hear her for the barking, and then it struck me.
“When I’m home and I call you, do the dogs bark in the background?”
“Not really,” she answered, but she is a wonderful person, which means the answer really is: “Yes, absolutely.”
So when I came home, I paid special attention to the decibel level in my house, which was when I realized that my dogs bark all day long.
As in, constantly and nonstop.
Not all four dogs always bark at once, but at any given time, there is at least one dog barking, and I’m pretty sure they rotate their barking and each take a turn, like a Newcomb of noise.
If they’re not sleeping, they’re barking.
And the other day, Boone barked in his sleep.
I woke him up because I thought he was having a bad dream, and then he kept barking.
My dogs have two speeds, comatose and crazy.
I never noticed how much they bark. I think I got used to it, like when there’s a certain smell and you develop nose blindness. I don’t know if you can develop ear blindness, but I may have, and I need it back again. I keep the TV on closed-captioning, so I can follow when they start barking.
Meanwhile, God knows what they’re barking at. Nothing is ever going on here, but they stand at the window and bark at squirrels, and if there’s no squirrel in sight, they stand in the middle of the room and bark anyway.
My dogs couldn’t catch a squirrel. They can’t even fetch a ball.
This, during the week that a hero dog fetched a terrorist.
Yet I’m crazy about my dogs and I love them to the marrow. I tell everybody that they should get a dog, and usually when someone doesn’t have a dog, they ask, “Do they shed?”
And I’m like, “No.”
But the truth is, my dogs shed a lot. They shed all over the place, but it’s not as if I’m lying to the people, as now I realize I’ve developed shed blindness.
Anyway, I was home for two days when I realized that the dogs had stopped barking, or rather, I had stopped noticing that the dogs were barking, which was when I decided it wasn’t the worst thing that they bark 24-7 and in fact, was rather pleasant, like background music.
Like Spotify, which is not named for a dog, but should be.
This is how things work generally in my life, in that I get used to something sucking and turn it into a positive.
It worked really well with both of my marriages, until I called myself on the phone.
It’s funny how sometimes you have to step outside of your life to realize what’s inside.
And in my case, inside are dogs.
And they bark and shed because they’re dogs.
And they also love to cuddle, and they feel as soft as a warm blanket.
Sometimes, dogs are better people than people.
And in truth, all dogs are heroes.
So I’m the lucky dog, right?