Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Habit Forming

That's what a dog is. Of course they're great companions, entertaining, comforting, protective, affectionate, and sometimes expensive. But it's the habits you form around their lives and needs that drive home their absence.

Start with first thing in the morning. There's no fuzzy body parked outside the bedroom door to avoid stepping on if he's a little slow getting up, no paws landing on your knees while you sit on the throne first thing, no need to leave the bathroom to let him out before heading back to dole out the morning pills because it's cruel to make him wait another couple minutes. There's no waiting for his scratch at the door to be let back in, no checking the food dish while the water for coffee heats in the microwave, no emptying the remains of water from the work jug from yesterday into his water dish. Sure, the cat still uses the water dish, but she doesn't drink much.

There's no arranging the lap blanket before inviting him up into your lap to lay on your legs while you watch TV for morning news, traffic and weather while you drink your coffee, no shooing him off so there's room for the laptop, no getting up again because he's decided he needs to go out again to see if maybe there's another rabbit that needs running lessons.

After that morning shower, there's no inviting him up on the bed while you dress, no shooing him over a couple feet, off the clean clothes you've laid out in the order needed, no making sure he - and the cat - leave the room at the same time you do before you shut the door for the day.

When packing the day's breakfast and lunch, there's nobody guarding the floor against possible dangers of dropped food buildup, or barring that, taking a nugget of kibble from his dish, coming back to where he can see you before chomping it, then dashing back for the next nugget. There's nobody warming your chair for that last sit-down to put on your shoes before heading out, nobody accompanying you to the door to wish you a speedy return.

Seriously, speedy speedy: it's a long day holding it before somebody gets back some days. Now there's no need to push yourself to get back so he can be let out. And once you arrive, there's no furry dancer waiting for that word, that pet, and that run to and through the back door. Before you sit down after changing out of the uniform, there's no letting him back in. You can settle in with the lap blanket and the TV, not worrying about instantly putting the empty plate up out of his way, no need to keep the bedroom door closed until time to sleep, no needing to put used tissues out of reach. I can head for bed when I'm tired rather than spending ten minutes letting him out, letting him in, checking his food and water, arranging the blankets before allowing him up on the bed because it can't be done with a 30-pound anchor laying across the corner.

All those habits, all day long that I'm home, all those reminders as the impulse hits that this too is no longer necessary. Each is a reminder, an emptiness. And for some reason, not doing those things seems to be taking up more time in my routine than the doing did.  Maybe he was just my reason for getting it done now.

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