Monday, March 5, 2012

My Dog Will Be Claiming Me as a "Dependent..."

It's tax season, and as my dad and I were going through all the paper work and all the drudgery, he jokingly asked: "will you be claiming Sam (my dog) as a dependent this year?"  Of course you can't claim a dog as a dependent for tax purposes...that's one of the few things I know about taxes. :-) And even if I could, I'm not too sure it would be that beneficial.  That silly question got me to thinking, though, and I wondered, who is really "dependent" on who?  I mean, sure, Sam has to wait for me to get home from classes or work in order to go outside, he counts on me to remember to feed him breakfast and dinner, to keep his water bowl full, to play and exercise him, and to scratch his belly on command (my cue: when he rolls over and plays "dead").  But really, that's about it.  So, I came to the conclusion that I am really dependent on him, not the other way around.

Sam is the reason I wake up every morning. Literally.  He is usually up just before the alarm goes off, and in the event I don't set my alarm, he never fails to wake me up bright and early.  I count on him to be my exercise partner and pace keeper.  Sam also keeps me on a schedule...always reminding me when I should take a study break and get some fresh air.  I also count on him to provide comedic relief on a daily basis.  Two years and counting...and he still makes me laugh  He frequently makes 180 degree turns in order to chase and capture a leaf blowing by. He pounces on light reflections that appear on the carpet...and the wall.  He sprints and does laps around my condo for about five minutes every morning.  He chases butterflies and bird shadows at the dog park (he is famous around town for being "the butterfly chaser," and yes, he can spot them all the way across the field).  He always gets in my way as I am trying to put on my shoes.  When he sees a bug...he keeps his eye on it and slowly follows it with his nose until he gets bored with it.  He leaps through 2 feet of snow like its the best most wonderful thing on earth. He sings (literally) on the way to the dog park and doesn't stop until we get there.  He throws the ball and plays catch with himself.  And the list goes on...but the point is, Sam makes me smile and laugh out loud every day--something that in this rushed, busy, and stressful world is a true commodity.

As Christopher Morley once said, "no one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does."  I have to admit that I am also dependent on Sam to be my friend and my confidant.  He is a wonderful listener...he'll sit for quite a while before he gets tired of hearing about how frustrating it is that after 200 years we still don't fully understand the origin of the justiciability doctrines of standing, ripeness, and mootness (are they constitutional requirements or merely prudential?), or how ambiguous the adequate state law ground rule is (I mean, precisely what constitutes an inadequate state procedural ground that permits judicial review?).  And when the discussion gets a bit more heated and political, he is always loyal and never voices opposition. By the way...I really don't talk to my dog as much as it seems...
Sam is also my bodyguard and watch dog - and a very good one at that!  He is always careful not to let some stranger get too close to us, and he has a wonderful ear for strange noises outside.  He's also pretty good at spotting lawn decorations (such as flamingos, deer, Christmas decorations...) and warning me of their presence. Thanks to him, I've so far avoided any run-ins with rogue statues.

I guess what I'm trying to say is simply that there is something truly extraordinary about dogs.  They have personalities. They are forever loyal and compassionate creatures.  They don't judge (or at least they do a good job hiding it) and they don't care what we look like on any given day.  They are forgiving and don't hold grudges. They make a positive difference in the lives of others on a daily basis.  We could all learn a lot from dogs...