Oatie, also known as Barking Man, is my best friend in Portland. I take him everywhere with me. He's Mr. Casual, looking like he's riding a rollercoaster, rather than hanging over my orange-fleece-covered arm, not even bothering to feel nervous by the thought that with a little slip he could be on the floor. Nah, he trusts me. We are buds like that.
We go way back. Back to when I first visited Carrie in Grand Forks, North Dakota. She'd told me that she got a chihuahua. I thought, "Why in God's name would you ever get one of those ugly things?" I went to visit at Christmas, braving the death-welcoming tundra that is December in North Dakota. At Carrie's house, she tried to get me to hold The Dog. I have never liked dogs, ever since they chased me down the street in Alexandria, trying to eat me alive. I know that's what they were thinking. Anyway. I said, "What if he pees on me?"
"Oh, he's never peed on anyone!" Carrie pushed him at me. She's like that sometimes.
What could a little rat dog like this do, anyway? I tried fake like him. But he knew I was lying. He peed on me. At end of the visit, my sister insisted on photodocumentation of me holding the dogs, pretending I thought they were cute. I did not think they were cute.
I flew home, happy to return to my solitary existence.
A couple years later, I agreed to let Carrie move in with me. Well I was VERY HAPPY to have Carrie move in with me. I decided I could PUT UP with The Dog.
For three months, I hated him. I ignored him. He peed on things. I got mad. I wanted him to move out.
I decided I should fake like him again. So I started to pick him up and hug him and tell him, "I love you." This is where the psych degree comes in handy. I started to LOVE the dog. It must have been that mind training that I was doing on him. It backfired.
So I moved to NZ. And I missed The Dog. I would think of him jumping up and down when I came in the door. I was sad.
I returned home to Portland and the first person who I saw was Oatie. He squealed in his kennel and jiggled the door. It was a fantastic reunion, complete with smelly dog breath licking on my face. (Of which I am still not a fan.)
We've settled into our routine. Walks every other day to the coffee shop. Picking up strangers everywhere. Peeing on everything that looks like it could be a tree or bush (that's just Oatie, not me!) I jump into the car. Oatie jumps into the car. (Okay, sometimes he's too lazy to jump into the car and just looks at me pathetically until I pick him up.) We cruise the streets of Portland, hanging out the windows.
Sometimes when I'm not looking, he sneaks a lick on my face, aiming for the lips. Sometimes he misses the mark and gets his tooth caught in my nose in his fervor. He knows I don't like it, but he does it anyway. He's a man like that.
Today we dressed him up in his Gap sweatshirt. He abruptly became comatose with warmth.
I took him to our coffeeshop. The one that lets the dog come in and sit on my lap. Yes I am now one of THOSE people. A dog person.