Rat-dogs and why dinner going to the dogs isn’t always a bad thing

My parents are out of town again – off to their favourite travel destination, exploring Italy a little more. As always, I have grudgingly taken their tiny little dog, Sophie, for the duration of their trip. Sophie and I don’t always see eye to eye. She’s a tiny little lapdog, very anxious, very needy and jumpy. She wakes me up by standing on my chest, she has ruined a bearskin rug of which I was extremely fond, damaged a sheepskin which I also quite like, and left her mark on several carpets in my house over the several visits she’s had here. Funny, though, when I stepped into my house last week and I put my foot down beside her and she jumped three feet away, I looked at her and felt some compassion. I get it, Sophie. I’ve been there. I’ve decided to challenge my own perspective of the skittish little rat dog and ‘love up on her’, as per my sister’s advice, which she gave me when I texted her one morning to complain about the fact that she was sleeping in my armpit. Sophie, that is. Not my sister.

This is Sophie and me, a few years ago. I wasn't always a fan of the shoulder growth.

This is Sophie and me, a few years ago. I wasn’t always a fan of the shoulder growth.

So, this visit, I have been making an effort to love this little bundle of nerves, because I think we may have some unfortunate issues in common. To be clear, I don’t pee on rugs. But I might be inclined to nestle into someone’s arm crook to sleep, if one were available, because sometimes it feels safer there. Interestingly enough, Sophie has forced me out of my comfort zone in my bed, way over on the left hand side, a habit I haven’t broken since being married, over 8 years ago. This little girl is relentless in her need to nuzzle down under my left armpit. Maybe she knows it’s vulnerable there. Maybe she knows my left side needs a little extra attention. Or maybe she’s just used to sleeping that way with my mother. If I choose to flip my perspective, and see her as offering me some comfort, it’s not quite as irritating.

On flips of perspective. Tonight, at the dinner table, my youngest was driving me crazy trying to play with Sophie while we were having dinner. I realized I was not at all relaxing and enjoying my homemade turkey soup to which I had been so much looking forward. My homemade dills and a friend’s pickled beans were not receiving the attention they deserved, and dinner was on its way to being a disaster. So, when Iain put Sophie on the chair beside him, and it struck me as funny, I found myself at a crossroads. Usually I would have tried to be the stickler for manners, I would have insisted that he not touch the dog while we were eating. That we shouldn’t encourage the dog begging at the table. I would have been frustrated, the boys would have argued with me, the soup would have gotten cold, and I would have been upset about a dinner ruined and possibly ranted about why, after ten years, I couldn’t sit and enjoy a homemade meal FOR ONCE, and well, that dinner would have gone down in our family history as completely unmemorable, and it might have put my kids off turkey soup and pickles for life. You just never know.

So, instead, we did this. And probably made some memories. And, they ate their soup. And the pickles.

And not to go on about the cancer, but it’s nights like these that really make me realize the different layers in me that are changed. How willing I am to say yes to moments like these, and how grateful I am to be able to make the best of every Sunday night dinner I have with these guys. Tonight, I changed the conversation they may have ten years from now from ‘Ugh. Remember how mad Mom got that night I tried to get Sophie to eat with us?’ to ‘Remember that night Mom set the table for the DOGS? That was awesome!’. And that makes me happy. Happy Sunday, y’all. Hope yours was good.

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2 thoughts on “Rat-dogs and why dinner going to the dogs isn’t always a bad thing

  1. Thank you clarifying that you do not pee on rugs. Love the new found perspective. Sometimes it’s the litte things that can totally change our day. That meal will totally live in your family history!!! But I doubt that it will ever become a tradition or a regular occurrence. Hope you enjoyed your turkey soup!!!!

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