Coming up empty in my search for doggy kisses

Every morning for the past two weeks, I’ve run down to our kitchen to grab a refill on my coffee cup and a granola bar before running back up to my office to log into the next meeting. Before I head back upstairs, I look over to to see our dog, Nittany, a Lhasa Apso – Bichon Frise mix, lying on the couch with the saddest, most pathetic look imaginable.

When I say sad, I mean sad — your best friend in the second grade has moved away sad; your oldest brother breaks the news to you, telling you you Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are fake sad, and you stub your toe on the bed sad. She gets a look on her face that is pitiful.

Of course, seeing her like this, I’ve felt guilty and have gone over to her to give her a hug and spend a few minutes, gently rubbing her ears and belly. I can’t be certain, but I suspect this is how habits start. 

“It’s okay ole girl, everything’s going to be alright,” I tell her.

Oh, thank you

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our little daily visits because I keep running across any number of pictures and videos of newly adopted shelter dogs reacting to going home with their owners. You know the type of photo. The dog looks up at their owner with pure joy and love. The dog has a smile that’s a mile wide. You look at the photo and can’t help but feel good inside.

In one video that I found, the dog wouldn’t be calmed. The dog kept jumping up in the air, it was so excited to see and to be touched by its new owner. One poster commented on the video, “I need a guy that looks at me like that shelter dog looks at its new owner.”

The look

Of course, I rub Nittany’s belly and spend ten minutes out of my morning with her. For her, though, my love and attention are not enough. There’s no thanks, no licks of the hand, no deep looks of gratitude. She just sighs nonchalantly. If it was my wife or my daughter petting her, Nittany would be all smiles. She’s enamored with them. We learned long ago that she has no problems playing favorites. I’m obviously not one.

For me, it’s nothing but a stone face. Oh, she does manage to lift her leg so that so that I can rub her belly where she wants my hand to be, but that’s it for the emotions. When I go to leave she looks at me, not with smiling, adoring eyes, but a cold stare, like I have sour breath.

“C’mon girl, aren’t you going to miss me at all?” I say, trying to coax a little love out of her. She has none of that, she simply turns her head and casually goes back to looking out the window.

I want to walk-off in anger, at least in a huff, but I know I won’t. How can I get mad at her? She’s got all of us, especially me, wrapped around her pinky. I love her like family.

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