Dog walking, especially with Stanley, is therapeutic. He has so many quirks. His anxiety is a jack in the box. Most of the time you are just playing with him and you’re not really aware of what’s going to make him pop, until suddenly he does. By pop, like you would think with a dog, he doesn’t bite or bark or act aggressive by any means. He runs or cowers or hides. Flight not fight with this one.

His ears are two antennas that are simultaneously constantly aware of his surroundings and let you know whether something is bothering him or not. He never walks, his gait is elegant. If it weren’t for his nails, you would never hear his steps. All four paws a strident and pillowy movement forward, backward and side to side.

For an animal that ill look to hide or curl up when someone stands, Stanley also wishes to make his existence known on every bush, tree, garbage bag, light post, leaf pile, corner of a building or anything else he smells and thinks he should be apart of. As soon as we walk out of the house he will pee his normal pee. But somewhere in that 21 lb. body he keeps some back up urine for his new claims.

Sometimes it’s a real long sniff, as though he is trying to smell the last decade in that exact spot. That if he could talk it would be like Antiques Roadshow and he could tell me the history of that smell and that spot on the street. There are other times where it is a quick sniff, a lift of the leg and then we keep on moving. Other instances have him almost doing a drive by pee. Wherein he hops and drip-drops and then runs ahead almost as if he’s embarrassed of the decision he just made. Especially at the end of the walk, its all kabuki theatre. He is just doing it because he thinks he should do it. Habit.

When you get home he dances. It’s true. His hind legs are so strong that he’s able to stand. To keep balance he hops. His front paws are out like a bikini clad coed from a Surf movie in the 60s doing the twist and he just stares at you with these big sad eyes. What he wants is for you to pick him up and hold him like a little baby. Sometimes though it is just fun to grab his paws and dance with him like a flower girl at a wedding. He’s so agreeable that he lets it happen and hops around and we have fun.

I would like to acknowledge now, that I am 100% allergic to him. The fondness I have for him despite how clamped my head feels and how clogged my nose and sinuses are is uncanny. His hair is everywhere: on my sweaters, furniture, sheets, towels, shoes quite literally everywhere. As the mucus builds, though, my love for him builds too. I feel the worst (physically) and the best (emotionally)  when we are cuddling. He insists to sit in the same chair as me. Lots of times he’s just curled up next me, but then other times he lays on top, or rests his head, or gets on his back to expose his belly for some rubs. The closer we snuggle, the more I love him, the more I sneeze and need to blow my nose.

I’ve mentioned his eyes. Mairead, calls them “big doe eyes.”, like a deer. I know dogs can’t cry but when he looks at you it seems as though he’s just watched the scene when Renee Zellwegger tells Jerry Maguire that he had her at hello. They are these misty, brown orbs that I’m convinced have special magnets in them for only your eyes. When you make eye contact with Stanley you know how he’s feeling. You empathize with his anxiety, you notice he just wants your attention and care. You want to give him the world, but you know that by doing so he’ll just be so stressed out.

Stanley has already taught me a lot and I only just met him in mid-December. He lets me get out of my head. I have learned to calm down, because if I am calm, then he is calm. He has taught me that routine can be important. You don’t need to be mundane, but sometimes having to do things out of necessity can be good for your temperament.

The whole experience has been therapeutic. Stanley is good for me, and I hope that in some odd canine way he thinks I’m good for him too. Mairead was so smart to bring him up to Boston early. He needs that extra tender love and care. The best part about him though is that he brings it out in you. Just him existing make you do it and that’s why I’m so thankful for him.

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