i love watching Mathilda sleep. she does it with as much intensity as she does everything else. looking at her, it’s hard to remember she’s only 18 months old, but her behavior is very much that of a puppy. having not seen her or Larry for almost three weeks, they were ecstatic to see me. Mathilda wanted to get so close to me that jumping up to be at eye-level with me (which she is almost capable of doing) isn’t enough… she was trying to bite me and swallow my face… i guess if you’re a puppy, everything you value goes in your mouth at some point.
when i take her for a walk, she jerks and pulls, she chases after birds and squirrels, cowers and runs away from traffic, and in general wears me out. when she eats, don’t get in the way, or you’ll draw back a nub. she would never growl or bite anyone intentionally, but every time she eats, it’s like her last meal. everything she does — walking, playing, eating — is done with such intensity. even sleeping.
when she sleeps, it’s like she’s trying as hard as she can to get in as much sleep as possible. the slightest noise, and that head pops up off the ground waiting for something exciting. or tasty. when she dreams, she starts breathing heavily, then her oversized paws start moving, and every now and then she’ll give a deep, quiet, “rrruf…”
i always wonder what she’s dreaming about. do dogs dream like we do? do they see pictures and hear sounds? do they dream of people they know and places they’ve been? do they dream of giant bones or crippled cats or ponds full of fish and ducks and mud?
my dreams are weird — and i apologize in advance if this next paragraph is a little weird or more open than you cared for it to be. i rarely dream of anything fun. furthermore, my dreams rarely involve nudity, unless it’s me with no pants on i used to have this recurring dream (even as a child) where i would be out in public, and all i would have on was a t-shirt that was very short and nothing else. i would try to pull the shirt down to cover myself, but it would never reach, and i would try to sneak home before anyone noticed. only once did this dream turn out well; i snuck into the toy section at Wal-Mart and opened a G.I. Joe Tiger Force Rattler airplane and used the included stickers to cover up my unmentionables.
more recently (i.e., over the past decade), i’ve had a recurring dream where i reconnect with a close friendship i lost in high school. he stopped talking to me for reasons he blamed me for, though i suspect it had as much to do — if not more to do — with things that were going on in his life at the time. but i dream we see each other and he makes a sarcastic comment, and then so do i, and we both laugh and all is well again. even though it’s been years since i’ve seen him, i always wake up disappointed.
my dreams, especially as an adult, seem to be about what isn’t — either what i haven’t been able to make happen yet or what once was that is no longer. they are mired in shame of differing levels, from the skin-deep shame of being… well, skin-deep… to the deeper, broader strokes of wishing i’d been able to handle a friendship differently, even if as a teenager there was no way i could know better, or for him to know better. these dreams begin to pick away at who i really am, what i was meant for, how short i have fallen…
i don’t think Mathilda ever dreams like that. she always seems to be hunting, chasing, running, playing. i never imagine her dreaming of being afraid of anything… it’s easy to imagine her dreaming about being twenty feet tall and chasing an oversized cat or a king squirrel which will make a feast of a dinner for a giant dog such as her… maybe enough left over for Larry, too. i imagine she’s barking away a fierce predator as she stands between me and danger—nay, certain death!
when Mathilda dreams, i think she dreams of being king of the yard. the fastest. the strongest. the scariest. the stealthiest. the bravest…