This is Rhino, also known as "Rhinoceros/Boo/Crazy-Pants" and that other guy who sleeps in my bed. Rhino is my dog, my buddy, my cuddle-partner and regular source of entertainment. If you've known me longer than five minutes, you probably know that I love him. A lot — like crazy-dog-lady a lot. One of the reasons I love him so much is that he's taught me a lot of important things about love, and showing up for the people you care about. So, here is some love-wisdom, straight from the snuggle monster who shares my house:
Greetings Are Important
No matter how long I've been gone/how long I've left him alone, Rhino is always butt-wiggly excited to see me when I walk in the door to our apartment. He makes coming home sweet --- especially after busy, stressful days. I wish I could channel Rhino's enthusiasm for me into the way I greet my husband when he comes home from work. I imagine our apartment would be a warmer, sweeter place if I made it my consistent business to welcome my husband home with enthusiasm, regardless of the day we've had.
Remember To Ask
There are several tricks that Rhino does really well. "Sit," "touch" and "shake" are his go-to tricks. However, "lay down" and "roll over" are not his strengths, and I think I know why --- it's because we don't ask him to do those things very often. Every now and again when I revisit "roll over" with him, I'll get frustrated that it takes him several --- or many --- attempts to get it right. But I shouldn't get frustrated with him for getting out of practice with a trick I haven't consistently asked him to do. And, I can't expect Rhino to know what I want him to do if I don't tell him to do it. It's the same in marriage --- how can I expect my husband to know what I want or need if I don't communicate those things to him on a regular basis? Sadly, neither dogs or humans are mind-readers. If we want or need something from them, we have to ask.
Trust Is Key — And It’s Earned
I remember the first few weeks that we had Rhino after we adopted him. He was a little unsure of us and a little timid. He would pee in the house frequently, and not because he wasn't house-broken, but because he didn't know if he could count on us to take him outside on a regular basis. It took him time to adjust to our touches and cuddles. But, as he got to know us, he got know that we would take him outside regularly and that when we pulled him across the bed in the morning, it was just so we could cuddle him extra close before we got up for the day. In short, he trusts us and can relax around us, and that has paved the way for the super-snuggly relationship that we have. Sometimes I find myself being more consistently gentle and tender with Rhino than I am with my husband --- sometimes I won't be the best listener or I won't say the kindest thing. But, more than anything, I want to have a husband who trusts me and can relax around me. I want him to know that I will always listen and that I will always try to be gentle and meet his needs as best I can. That is a trust that is earned over years of small acts of gentleness and kindness. I'm fairly certain that I will never perfect this kind of trustworthiness, but I'm working on it.
One of the best things about Rhino is that he is a "yes" dog. I don't mean that he's super obedient (we're working on that one....kind of...), but rather that whenever I approach him to snuggle or play, he says "yes." He's all-in and seemingly up for whatever it is that I want to do. I like to think that this is because he likes to spend time with me. My husband and I have many things in common, but sometimes our leisure-time preferences can be polar-opposites of one another. Sadly, when it comes to spending time together, my husband is more of a "yes" spouse than I am. He watched all 10 seasons of "Friends" with me because it's a show I loved, has gone to restaurants that wouldn't be his choice because I wanted to try it, and even brought home Rhino before he thought we should have a dog because I so desperately wanted one (some day I'll share the story of how Rhino came into our family). I, on the other hand, could be better at going all-in with things my husband loves to do (like listening to country music, going on long walks and seeing movies where people/things are blowing up). So, I hope that in the years to come I become more of a "yes" wife, because I imagine a marriage of two all-in "yes" spouses would be an awesome thing.
So, there you have it --- love lessons from my Rhinoceros. Have a snuggly day, friends!