My French Bulldog, Charlotte, really likes a wonderful German Short Hair Pointer named Romeo. When they’re together, they run around and play and just enjoy each other’s company. When it’s time for a nap, they lay curled up next to each other. Occasionally Romeo will put his head on Charlotte’s back and fall asleep. This is really quite amazing as each dog does not allow any other animal to cuddle with them when taking a nap… NOT EVER. Charlotte usually growls, barks or gives a very terse “get away from me” snarl that tells the cuddling offender, in no uncertain terms, to “leave me alone.” Romeo acts the same way when another dog tries to lay by him. But when Charlotte and Romeo decide to take a nap together, there are no complaints to be heard or seen. It’s like these dogs have a special bond between them, an attachment that tells them that cuddling with each other is not only okay, but wonderful. It’s a behavior that’s understood and accepted between the two of them.
What is it about Romeo that causes Charlotte to welcome him with open paws? And, what is it about Charlotte that has Romeo sharing his valuable, intimate space with her? Is it love? Is it affection? Is it a thoughtful process or is it just instinct? Since I’m an interested party in trying to understand what may be going on with these two dogs, I know I have to be careful when analyzing what I’m seeing. While I’d like to think that Charlotte and Romeo truly love each other, I know that I’m talking about a love that has a human definition attached to it. So, after thinking about this for a while, I’ve come to the conclusion that if this is love, it’s “”dog love”… and dog love is very different from human love in many, many ways.
First of all, dog love is a pure love. It’s given freely and without expectation. Each time dogs greet a loving friend, overly exuberant joy emanates from every inch of their bodies. Dogs are never self conscious about the expression of their love nor do they minimize the depth of their happiness at seeing their friends again. They never hold grudges and memories of past offenses are non-existent. Dog love is a demonstrative love… sniffing, licking, touching and caressing are all acceptable ways of expressing affection. And if there is some intimate behavior that is upsetting for a dog, it is dealt with immediately and with little fanfare… not left for another time. Dog love has a sweet spirit and a tender heart. It is always careful to respect boundaries and is apologetic when a slight towards a friend does occur. And, it is always quick to make amends.
The most important aspect of dog love is one that often eludes humans… and that is the art of forgiveness. We humans could learn an awful lot from our furry companions… like accepting that people make mistakes sometimes… that we all goof up and are all deserving of a second chance… maybe even a third and fourth chance occasionally…
Charlotte and Romeo don’t see each other very often these days… but it doesn’t really matter. They’re still excited and affectionate whenever they do get together. I’ve chosen to believe that what’s between them is dog love… sweet, tender and true. And in many ways much better than human love. Is it any wonder that occasionally I wish I was a dog?