My dog Bodhi likes to do stuff. He has a few favorites, but mostly he doesn’t care what stuff.
Bodhi came home with us at eight weeks old. His dog-mom is a red heeler-type lady and his dog-dad is an unknown who-knows-what, but I suspect some amount of pitbull, because that’s what Bodhi looks like. She was picked up with a bunch of other strays, and since she was super preggo, she was sent to a foster home in Northern Colorado, where she gave birth to nine healthy puppies.
My mom started sending us photos of the puppies pretty much immediately after they were born. They were being fostered at a friend-of-a-friend’s, and they pretty much looked like good-sized potatoes with various spotty patterns. We picked Bodhi—short for Bodhisattva—out of the bunch when he was basically still a little furry fetus guy.
In the first week he was our dog, Bodhi went climbing with us twice. He was still too little to hike the approaches himself, so Bix rigged the brain of an old backpack so I could carry him like a baby kangaroo. It was sickeningly cute.
At six months old, he sat in the backseat of our Forester as we drove to Alaska, where he learned about moose. Bodhi is terribly afraid of moose, which is how I know he’s quite smart.
Bodhi—our West Texas Dirt Dog—has ridden thousands of miles in a car. It’s not his favorite activity, but he does like to stick his head out the window and make faces at passersby. He likes to curl up on the couch, but you have to make him tired first. He is curled up on the couch right now, as I write this, but he’s not happy about it. You can tell because he’s basically vibrating, occasionally giving me meaningful looks.
“My mom,” he is saying (this is what Bodhi calls me: My Mom), “why aren’t we doing something more fun?”
Here is an incomplete list of things Bodhi would like me to do instead of sitting on the couch writing things for the Internets:
- Feed The Dog. It doesn’t matter if he has already technically eaten his brown pebble allotment for the day.
- Throw the ball one thousand times at the dog park, otherwise known as “going dogging.”
- Go to the desert, where lizards live.
- Go skiing—downhill on skis is the only time Humans can keep up with The Dog, really.
- Float the creek. Bodhi does not especially love being on the water, but it beats being on the couch. Also sometimes there are fish.
- Maybe feed The Dog again.
- Take out the Metal Beasts.*
- Walk to the bar. A nice thing about mountain towns is dogs can come to the bar. At Bodhi’s favorite bar, the owner has treats for The Dog.
- Sleep in a tent. Sometimes Bodhi is kind enough to let a Human share his sleeping bag, but not always.
- Literally anything else besides sit at home and click away on my laptop.
* only fun when The Dog gets to come along, because Humans can keep up with The Dog on the back of a Metal Beast. Not fun if Humans leave The Dog at home.
I was skeptical about getting another dog after my beloved black lab Lucky died. I wasn’t sure I was ready to love another being as much as I loved Lucky, who was, objectively, extremely lovable. I’d like to say my heart melted as soon as I met this particular being, that I immediately knew he was special and all that—and I did adore him right away; I’m not a monster. Look at that face.
But having a puppy is a lot of work. He needed constant supervision. I was perpetually worried something awful would happen to him. We weren’t supposed to take him on runs until his little joints had had enough time to form fully, but he still had lots of energy, which meant planning two exercise times each day: one to keep him from eating our furniture, and another to keep my own brain from exploding. Puppies are cute, but I was glad when Bodhi turned into a dog.
In Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva can reach nirvana, but chooses to hold off—something about compassion for suffering beings. This particular Bodhisattva is a goofball, and in fact, we named him that mostly because 1) I liked the name and Bix is cooperative and 2) I thought it was funny, this idea that a dog was more enlightened than the rest of us.
The funny thing about dogs, though, is that they’re pretty emotionally intelligent. Bodhi knows when I’m sad and gives me big sloppy kisses. He gets excited when I do. He hears sirens and howls. This dog is pretty smart.
Having a dog is good for me. When I get home from work and I’m too tired or stressed to exercise, there’s still a reason I have to go: he will stare and whine and sit by the door and nose his leash and insist I get my ass out the door. I need that.
What did we Humans do to deserve dogs, I wonder? Bodhi might know. He might know or he might just need to pee. Either way, I’m headed out to take him for a walk.