Pals!

Titus and his human, Mike.

Hi! My name is Mike. I belong to a big red dog named Titus. Titus and I live in Maryland, USA, where one of us sleeps most of the day while the other works as an electrical engineer. I’ll let let you decide for yourself which is which. As Titus lacks the evolutionary blessing of opposable thumbs, his stay with me requires some assistance with food, water, belly rubs and regular trips to the front yard with a plastic bag on my hand. Also required of me is my unflinching participation in whatever foolishness he finds appropriate at the moment, lest his displeasure be communicated to me in random, and frequently unpleasant ways. In exchange, I am awarded the most enthusiastic companionship one could hope for, and am allowed to imagine that I am loved unconditionally.

To merely say that I admire the simplicity of his life is to understate his remarkable ability to enjoy each moment on its own merit, to separate each moment from the regrets or expectations imposed upon it by moments prior. In my own life, dawn seldom heralds a pristine beginning, as each new day struggles to escape the gravitational pull of a lifetime mired in the minutia of a structured existence. As such, I often question the benefits of my opposable thumbs over the splendor of my pawed companion’s peaceful simplicity. In human terms, I have succeeded in many aspects of my life. By these measurements I am happy, and would not pretend otherwise. Still, I am envious of the overwhelming joy that Titus finds in the most ordinary things, as if every experience was his first. It is admittedly difficult to be in the presence of such excitement, however naive, and not hold in question the standards by which I have been judging my own life. When faith, marriage, and other sacred bastions of humanity have failed me, Red Dog’s innocent antics have carried me through life’s turbulent times, and left me giggling in spite of myself. Can as much be asked of even the most pervasive deity? Perhaps it is my own failing that in my darkest moments I can find no comfort in the fairy tales of an ancient people. Perhaps it is any man’s own failing to lose faith as he cries into the cold abyss of eternity, receiving nothing beyond his own pleading echoes in reply. For my part, I see the abyss for what it has revealed itself to be, an abyss, cold, silent, and void of the salvation we beg of it. I think salvation need not be wrapped in such grand abstractions as eternity. In fact, I tend to think that my salvation came only as I turned my back on the abyss, leaving neither blame nor praise at eternity’s feet. Strengthened by my insignificant share of the indomitable human spirit, comforted by the playful dance of a furry, pink-nosed simpleton, I wandered deliberately into my life.

On our journey together, Titus speaks to me daily, reminding me to wander, so that I am never wanting of new experiences; to sniff, leave the herd, get dirty and find life’s truffles; to eat, devour each moment, the bad ones can be regretted later; to pee, because responsibilities can not be ignored; and to play, because it truly is all about the joy. Of course, I’m paraphrasing; I believe his exact words were, “Yawn…stretch…wiggle…bounce…woof,” but I think we all know what he meant. Misguided or not, I am glad for the companionship.

So it is to the simple, joyful spirit of a big red dog, my salvation from the abyss, that I dedicate these musings on my journey through life. May we all find our joy in the simplest of things.

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