When I’m feeling very low, generally my instinct is to curl up in a cave constructed largely of doonas (eiderdowns or “comforters” for those of you not in Oz), pillows and cats, and go to sleep, on the theory that I’ll usually feel at least a bit better when I wake up. Usually, this is true.
So, bed is a safe place.
Every now and again I feel conflicted about this. I feel as though the only thing that could be more comforting than being curled up in bed next to snoring Husband and attention-demanding middle-aged cat (Jabba), and comatose elderly cat (Lestat), would be if Amos was asleep on the floor next to the bed and I could pat him.
We’ll leave aside reality for the moment. Reality would involve acknowledging that, in such a situation, Amos would steal my socks and refuse to give them back, and intermittently fart clouds of noxious gases into the bedroom, and wake us up from time to time by very loudly licking his penis (this results in quite the obnoxious slurping noise). Reality would involve acknowledging that he would probably eat the cat food, and the cats would be yowling and hissing in distress, and hiding under the bed, if not actively pissing on things in their outrage (this last one is more Jabba than Lestat. Lestat has more dignity than to piss on things in outrage).
I grew up with rottweilers. I took them entirely for granted, and it wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I encountered another rottie and was reminded that there was perhaps nothing in this world that was as comforting to me as leaning my head on a broad, black, muscled, furry dog back. Nothing makes one feel quite as safe as snuggling up next to a large dog that is very fond of you.
When I cry, Amos gets worried. He expresses this worry by sitting politely in front of me, licking my face obsessively, and nibbling on my ear. He follows me around when I am sad or sick, and he lets me hug him and flop all over him, when most of the time he can be a bit precious about his personal space. It’s hard not to anthropomorphise at times like this, but dogs do recognise distress. Howling and crying are things he seems to understand.
And sometimes I feel that no-one will offer you such wholehearted, uncomplicated emotional support as a dog will.