Tuesday, October 9, 2007

lessons from ripley

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on thursday my dog, tom ripley, will turn eleven years old, a fine old age for a dog, about seventy-seven dog years old, according to a common if unscientific calculation.

i got him as an eight-week-old puppy, + so we have history + a bond that goes beyond what i have with many of my human friends.

from me, he has learned to sit, to lie down, to come when called, + to go away when he’s not wanted.

he also knows approximately seventeen english words: ‘ripley,’ ‘come,’ ‘sit,’ ‘down,’ ‘go,’ ‘treat,’ ‘home,’ ‘stay,’ ‘jump,’ ‘cuddle,’ ‘play,’ ‘toy,’ ‘ride,’ ‘good-dog,’ ‘okay’ (i.e. ‘at ease’), + ‘no,’ as well as its synonyms, ‘shit’ + ‘fuck.’

he does not apparently recognize my name, proof that anonymity is probably no obstacle to lifelong intimacy.

dog ownership, like any significant relationship, affects both parties, so here is a quick list of things my dog taught me over the years, in no particular order:

(1) faithfulness deserves recognition.

(2) no good comes from containing enthusiasm.

(3) sleep heals.

(4) forgiveness is a matter of survival, not a virtue.

(5) good things should happen to those who are near you.

(6) if you need to speak, but cannot, stare intently.

(7) just being there is 98% of love + friendship.

(8) things smell like what they are.

(9) television is less interesting than a squirrel.

(10) motion + warmth + scent = life

(11) distraction may lead to discovery

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