This is the look that Samba gives me when my suitcase comes out. As the washing machine hums and and the packing begins, Samba’s anxiety manifests in quiet whines and pleading stares.
She doesn’t know that while I’m gone she’ll be staying with her best friend, Hank, and will return from the weekend exhausted from the continuous tumble of big-dog wrestling, complete with leg sweeps, pins and other Octagon-worthy moves. She only knows that my suitcase means I’m leaving, and that she’ll miss me while I’m gone.
Samba la Bamba in her puppy room.
By now you’ve probably already read about the Canadian university starting a “puppy room,” where stressed students can let it all out while nuzzling fuzzy little bundles of awesomeness. (Yes, I’m a little jealous that I missed out on this phenomenon. What’s the deal, Tufts?)
The article in the Guardian revealing the new therapy stand-in posited that the pup emporium is perfect, because actually owning an animal can be stressful, not to mention smelly, time consuming and fairly permanent. I argue none of these points (there’s nothing quite like fretting over the consistency of your dog’s feces to make you wonder why you own one in the first place), but I will argue this: Having a animal that loves you, that sees you coming and practically throws out its back in tail-wagging joy, that puts its head on your shoulder when you’re having a bad day, that’s better than any puppy-stuffed classroom.
Every morning, I wake up early pushed half off the bed by my 60-pound mutt, Samba. And every morning as I try to sneak out of the apartment without waking Tovin or forgetting my work clothes, Samba comes staggering out to say goodbye and watch me leave. I bend down, she gives me a couple sleepy licks, and I imagine myself in a video game, my life force bar recharging with that half-second gesture of puppy love. It’s all I really need to feel like everything is going to be okay.