Some pets fall in love with you at first sight and would live in your pocket if they could. Others are kind of like mail-order brides. They acknowledge that you’re better than the Humane Society cell they’ve been living in, but that doesn’t mean they want to cuddle. Leroy falls into the first category, Shiloh into the second.
I think, in the past eleven years, that Shiloh has grown to love me, but the current arrangement of sleeping dog bodies tells the tale: Leroy is right next to my feet. And Shiloh? If I lean back in my chair I can see her out the screen door sleeping in the furthest corner of the yard. She likes corners. Her favorite room is whichever one we’re not in. She has a genius for escape. We call her our “downstairs neighbor,” because she NEVER comes upstairs to our bedroom and studio, even though that’s where we usually are, with Leroy sitting as close as caninely possible.
When she was younger she had a very deliberate way of showing her disdain for human company: if you would go sit next to her on the floor to pet her, she would get up and move just far enough away so that you couldn’t reach her, and sit back down. She was lucky to be very beautiful because I always forgave her. I suppose this is how it is for beautiful people, too. They can ignore you and you’ll still pet them and feed them and pick up their... oh, nevermind.
She HAS gotten sweeter in her old age, and seeks out affection in a way she never did when she was young and sleek and spry. But I do sometimes wonder how much she LIKES us, and what kind of life she would rather have had. I think she’d have been miserable as a sled-dog -- she’s such a dainty little wuss -- but maybe if she’d been born to it she would have loved it, the long runs over wide-open frozen terrain? Maybe she would have turned into a thuggy, cool hooligan version of herself. What else? Socialite dog? Show dog? It’s too hard to imagine.
It’s easier to envision the terrible alternatives, the chained-in-the-yard life she could easily have lived, or the cell life, or even the stray life. It makes me shudder to think of all the dogs and cats out there longing for love and attention. And then there’s Shiloh, in her corner, who apparently could care less. Just now as I write this, she came and stood looking at me and I tried coaxing her over for about a minute before she finally turned and went to her corner instead. Now that’s love.