When we were looking for another dog after we lost Dexter, one of my wishes was that he be a cuddler. I was imagining a dog like Dexter, who could never be close enough to me, who would circle around and when he finally landed, he wasn’t just next to me, but part of him was on top of me — and I loved it. I still miss having him curled up next to me at night while we slept.
Ringo Blue isn’t in general a cuddly dog. He’d rather be moving, and when he does sleep at night, he doesn’t like to be bothered, will wake with a growl if you bump him. And yet, he does cuddle with me under certain conditions, specifically on the couch while I’m watching TV, usually at night. He doesn’t really ever cuddle with Eric and absolutely never with Sam, just me.
Last night, he crawled up into my lap while I was watching TV. He was positioned just about how he is in the above picture, which is his favorite way to cuddle — back end somewhere just above my knees and head resting right about where my heart is. He was there about 10 minutes when I decided I was finished watching. Typically, I’d get up and go get my phone, check in for a bit before I brushed my teeth and got in bed to read. By this time of night, Ringo has usually already asked to be put to bed, but last night he was just too cozy to get up.
I felt the urge to ask him to move, get up and get my phone and get on with it, but instead I stayed. I thought about how I’d give anything to see Obi and Dexter again, to sit quietly with them, doing nothing but being together. I reminded myself that some day Ringo won’t be here anymore, and I know on that day, I’d look back on a time like this and tell myself, “just stay, don’t move, be here.” So I stayed.
To practice gratitude, we often skip past joy. We list the things we are grateful for with a sort of duty, a sense of obligation — we give thanks, look for ways to return the kindness or to earn it. Appreciation is something we offer, extend out, give away. Last night, I spent some time sinking into the joy I was receiving, opening to it, letting myself notice it, allowing myself to fully experience it. I embodied my gratitude by feeling my joy.