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A lesson on love from a dog

Note: This is a guest post by Tawna Whitford, who just so happens to be my boyfriend’s mom. Tawna and her big black lab Emma live in Washington.

I was oblivious to the jingling of Emma’s dog tags that quietly announced her intentions for an early morning visit. I also missed the sound of her thick nails clacking heavily against the hardwood floors as she came near the side of my bed. I slept through the subtle downward pressure of her head resting on the edge of the blankets in disarray where she surveyed me for any signs of life.

Emma waited for consciousness to drift back into the busy network of my dreams and receive what she perceived as overdue payments of morning pets. I was selfishly dreaming of New York City where I was watching my friend Joey crack a steady whip over the heads of three polar bears in a three-ring circus. There was no response on my behalf to her presence. After waiting a whole three seconds or maybe six, Emma took matters into her own paws.

black-labWhat I couldn’t ignore was the mother of all sneezes that blasted my face with a fine mist of snot like a whale breaching the surface of the water and expelling its exhausted air supply. I was jarred awake with such shock as if having a glass of water thrown in my face. My eyes flew open only to see Emma’s mug filling my entire peripheral vision. Her breath seemed steamy with green clouds of morning breath pointed directly into my face. Her proximately was so close that she could have easily provided me with mouth to mouth resuscitation doggy style, tongue and all.

She bestowed upon me a good morning smiley face and chomped her gums together making happy mouth sounds. She was happy to see that I wasn’t asleep after all. With no encouragement on my behalf, Emma wagged her steely thick black tail in a quick metronome pace. The double time rhythm of her tail thumped against the bed frame and then against the wall with a great fervor.

I tried to wipe my face of the snotty dew only to find that my arm was still asleep and functioned by visual wishing rather than actually feeling my face. I moaned in a graveled sleepy voice that sounded less than pleased about being cut off from my dreams. I knew Emma could tell I wasn’t pleased (but not angry) about the rude awakening. She then thought twice and decided she should probably lie back down on her cozy Costco bed.

Emma tried to sulk away but found she was pinched in between the bed and the wall making it impossible to turn around. Putting her head down, with slow and purposeful thoughts, she concentrated on how to put all four paws in reverse. Her movements lacked coordination but her bulk moved solidly. All she was missing was the high-pitched beeps notifying all of her intentions to back up. She inched her way slowly backwards until she came to the end of the bed and executed a five-point turn and was on her way to freedom.

tabby-cat-pretty-girlThat’s when Emma eyed the Jell-O filled body of Pretty Girl rolled up in a tight ball next to my prized pillow.  My rules are that cats are allowed on the bed but dogs are not. Emma is a version of Queen King Kong and doesn’t fit well on even a king-sized bed. Needless to say, she lacks all social graces and bed etiquette. For short, she’s called Quong.

I saw Emma’s mind quickly shift from the deep desire to have doting morning attention to pure animal sibling jealousy. I saw Emma’s mind going through the gyrations of thought and reasoning out an argument for equality of all animals and animal rights should be enforced today! I sensed trouble brewing in the little bump on the top of her knobby head as she paused at the foot of the bed.

With action so quick that my eye was nearly unable to register how the big black beast was able to leap on top of the bed straddling me with all four paws. She licked my face with such strength that she virtually ironed out the pillow creases impressed upon my face. Emma then rolled over onto her back whipping herself back and forth. Her upper lips now served as her lower lips, hung like over-stretched silly putty on both sides of her jaws. She continued to sneeze in fits and pawed me with her flailing legs.

There are times where I just can’t get mad and this was one of those times.  She was completely out of control in joy. I had to laugh at the scene as if removed from my body and looking down from above. What a sight that must have been!

I try to see my life as God would. This moment was one of the best.  Emma longed to be with me and have attention. She did her best to elicit any response. She was full of jealousy for a cat that seemingly had my undivided affections. Emma could not and would not be ignored. She provided for herself an opportunity to be noticed.

I feel those same thoughts toward God as Emma exhibited toward me. I want God’s undivided attention, and I desire for His love and affections. I’m jealous of all the people whom I perceive as getting His undivided attention and it drives me crazy! I’m often provoked to seek God during those times in new ways and in deeper levels than I’ve ever known before.

I never would have supposed in all my years that I had anything in common with dogs. I’ve learned that we both have a deep desire to eat, sleep and be loved unconditionally.


Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 6th of May 2009

I think so too! :)

Mayra Calvni

Wednesday 6th of May 2009

Very nice post! I think your boyfriend's mom has a writer inside of her. :-)


Wednesday 6th of May 2009

Ah, the joys of dog snot to the face, lol. Makes me miss my dog.


Tuesday 5th of May 2009

What a great article Tawna! I can just picture your big Emma trying to get your attention! Cute!

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 5th of May 2009

Haha. Ace will not try to sneak onto the bed when I'm asleep. But in the morning he tends to get pretty wild and in the excitement, if I acknowledge him, he'll try to put his front paws on the bed and then if I don't tell him no, he's up on the bed with me. It's so cute that I allow it for a few seconds and then push him off. Obviously not good for consistency training, but whatever.