1. There should always be time for play. In the midst of busy days and hectic lives, everyone should find an outlet for release; a doorway to rested minds and exercised bodies. Bella greets me at the door every night with excitement, her entire body dancing and quivering at the simple joy of the moment. She demands attention and love, but she has recognized that I subsequently need a few moments to step across the threshold, put down the mail and paper and winter coat, and kick my shoes off. A minute later, however she'll be at my feet, holding her favorite ball, ready to play with free abandonment of the daily boredom. If you need a refresher course to remember to live in the moment, watch your dog.
2. There should also always be time for rest, and our days should align with the Earth's. After spending my early years with dogs who weren't allowed into the house, it is sometimes still astonishing to me that a dog, however well-loved, has become the driver for our household schedule. Bella makes sure I'm awake early every morning with singular mournful howls of increasing intensity that we will not hear again for 24 hours. Her "clock" however, is tuned to the sun and this alarm is progressively late as winter rolls on, and reverses as summer approaches. At night, usually shortly after sunset and sometimes long before I'm ready, she picks up this pillow and then follows us with an expectant look, seemingly surprised that you're not as sleepy as she is. The switch back from Daylight Savings Time throws her for a loop, and, like me, she still hasn't recovered.
3. A good morning stretch followed by skin to skin contact is one of the most important pleasures of life and, deserved or not, we should all be able to find a good belly rub whenever we need it. Every morning, no matter how long I let the howling go on, Bella stretches when I appear; luxurious stretches like she is coming out of a 20-year snooze and just being reborn into the world. I envy those stretches, that simple re-acquaintment of the mind with the marvelous machinery of muscle and bone. Afterward, she demands a good vigorous belly rub, simultaneously expressing grateful submission and a plea for a loving touch and warm embrace. The skin to skin contact with another living being always puts us both in a better mood. I am less successful in my own attempts to receive a belly rub, however. I've attempted this insistent pose a few times myself before a sleepy and uncooperative Mrs. ProfessorRoush, and it never seems to work for me.
4. True love is truly best defined by the happiness of every moment spent with your love, and the lingering sadness of every moment apart. My energetic and playful companion mopes when we spontaneously leave, lingering at the doorways until the garage door announces our return. I find it intriguing that Bella knows the difference between the normal schedule of my leaving for work in the morning and the more spontaneous shopping or errand trips at unexpected times. The former seems no more than an expected part of her day, while the latter is mourned as time stolen from a lover, precious moments noted by their absence. As for the readers of this blog, I know I've been away for some time while the wheels of daily life have stolen my attentions, but I promise that the doorway will open a little more frequently and at least a few times each month, until the days grow longer again and sunlight and warmth wake up the garden to be my muse.