We’ve written about this love before. It’s specific, palpable, and in the aftermath of separation, the kind of thing that tugs at your heart, that whispers, Oh, please, not again.
Megan and Nika were home for eight days over the holidays. From the moment they entered the house, Nika and Noah were out the porch door and into the yard, barking at phantom possums in the bushes, looking for squirrels, Nika tugging at Noah’s ears, Noah biting at her rear legs until he took her down. They yapped and played until they collapsed in Rob’s office, her head against his belly.
I’m home again, Nika thinks. But my human is only visiting here.
She’s here, Noah thinks, she’s back, biting at my ears, leaping up against the door and yapping like a maniac because she thinks that cat she saw in the tree months ago is still there. Maybe it is. Maybe I’d better get out there and bark loudly and hopefully… And suddenly he’s up and racing out the door and trying to climb a tree with Nika, where they believe a squirrel or a cat or a possum is hidden.
The adventure is a work in progress, a diamond in the rough that is polished and perfected each time they are together. They ride companionably in the back seat of the car en route to the dog park, to the place where we buy our Cuban coffee, to Home Depot, the grocery store, wherever and whatever, they are fine together. It’s a doggy past life karma, a meeting of souls who have spent lives together before in some form, doggy, human or something else altogether. But the point is simple: these two dogs know each other, love each other, and when they go their separate ways, they are depressed.
Yes, I know. This is called anthropomorphizing. I’ve been accused of this before. I’m attributing human qualities to…snicker, cough, giggle, gag… dogs. But who can say with any certainty that animals don’t feel? I mean, really, why wouldn’t they?
The research suggests that many animals have complex emotional lives. Read When Elephants Weep (non-fiction) and you will never again view an elephant in captivity in the way you may have in the past. Read A Dog’s Purpose (fiction) and you will always wonder about your dog’s…well, inner spiritual life.
The day that Nika Left, the moment she jumped into Megan’s car to head back to Orlando, Noah was in a slump. He stood outside her car, staring in at Nika until she leaped out and dived for his rear legs, nipped at his ears, licked his snout as if to say, Hey, I’ll be back, it’s all temporary.
Well, temporary or not, she was suddenly gone. He skulked around the house for a couple of days, didn’t eat much. Megan said that Nika seemed depressed, too, sleeping a lot, not her usual playful, joyful self. When we went to the dog park, Noah actually sought out other dogs, greeting them, tail wagging, as if to say, Hey dude, glad you’re here. Usually, he just wants to play Frisbee or chase a ball and doesn’t pay much attention to the other dogs.
There’s something about dogs and cats, our most domesticated animals, that tell us a lot about who we are, what we seek, where we are headed as a species, a collective, a consciousness. Unconditional love: will humans ever get here? Can we even aspire to that?
I don’t know. But cats, in their odd way, are there. And so are dogs.
Nika (whispering): Dude, when can we get together?
Noah: I’m working on them, I figure late January, early February, some place that’s dog friendly.
Nika: Make it so. Love and miss you bigger than Google.
And that’s how I see this love affair, Nika, Noah, and their humans.