My littlest dog is finally in love, and I am heartbroken by the consequences. It took only a few hours for me to love her, but she is a floppy creature with a short attention span, and needed a few extra meals and treats and pets to turn her face from mindlessly following mush to puppy love. And she is suffering because of it.
I am uncertain how to explain to her that being in love is not enough to keep us together for every waking and sleeping moment. That being in love doesn’t change the closing of the bathroom door. That being in love is no matter for separate beds and occasional hours without the sight and sound of me.
She is taking the news badly. She is chewing on the back of the couch. And she is in big trouble.
My fear of Hell is decreasing, and I have been worried. It goes that I do not love what I can’t be afraid of losing. Here, when my Someone leaves to pay for gas, I push down fear of a hold up inside the station. When he is gone with the dogs in the woods, I am willing bears and coyotes to stay tucked in their dens. But that love goes also like this–
“Where were you?” I ask. I am crying.
“I was almost done and forgot the peanut butter,” my Someone says.
“But you didn’t answer my text!” I say.
“I didn’t feel it buzz in my pocket,” he says.
I am angry. I am scared.
“I thought you were dead,” I say.
“I’m not dead,” he says. “I have peanut butter.”
This time is wasted time. The wringing hands, the waiting. And what I am afraid of losing, I lose for these moments.
“You are a bad dog!” I yell.
“You are a very bad dog!” my Someone yells.
We put our littlest dog’s face to the back of the couch.
“No!” I yell.
“NO!” my Someone yells.
We send her to lay down. We have seen her for only a minute, and she is in big trouble. The couch is not going to make it through this year. She tucks herself down on her bed. She waits. My Someone and I discuss couches. We throw up our hands exasperated. She has never done this before! we say. Why is this happening? we wonder.
It goes like this: that I have loved a God so long who would send me to Hell for the damage I’ve done to his couch.
“We have done a very bad thing,” I tell my Someone last night. I am researching, I am learning, and what I have found is that my puppy is in love. What I have found, is that the splinters of plywood and stuffing are the chew-chew-chewing of a puppy who does not know why her love is not enough to keep her with me. And our anger at the chewing before our love-showing at the sight of her is making her chewing more chewy, and her fear of me more important than her love.
My anger has sent her to Puppy Hell for the crime of wanting to be close. And she has been paying in shame for days. She stays curled on her bed. She does not look at me. She waits.
“Good girl,” I say.
“Good dog,” my Someone says.
She looks up. The smallest part of her tail wags.
I prepare treats to give her when we leave. She will not chew the couch. She is safe. We will be back, and we will not be angry. She is not afraid.
If I believe my creature is so smart, that she is complex with feelings that need assuaged and with boredom that needs attended, would my anger slow to look first at her and second to the broken couch?
I am becoming less afraid of Hell, because I am smart and complex and occasionally bored. Because I am working first to believe that I am good, and God cannot believe I am these things if he overlooking me to first check the couch. I cannot believe in God if I believe in Hell, and I think these days that I am preferring to let Hell go. But if God’s couch is more important, I will let him/her/it sleep with the decision. I can’t lose sleep over stuffing and few flames, anymore.