Travels with Emmett

IMG_4264When we announced that we were about to embark on this not-so-little journey, most people asked what we were going to do with Emmett, our other partner in crime. It was a surprising question to both Brian and I because I can’t imagine the answer being anything other than “he’s coming with us.” There is absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t–he’s a (relatively) well behaved mutt, (mostly) sociable, loves the car and I think I speak for the three of us when I say we would be heartbroken to leave him behind. I can’t imagine it any other way.

Emmett’s personality is much like his parents’. Namely, me. I had a friend once who told me that people fell into two categories: horse-like and donkey-like (disclaimer for all the horse and donkey experts out there: I have no idea if any of the following is true or just legend). The legend goes: put a bag of oats in front of a donkey and they will eat until they are full. Put a bag of oats in front of a horse and it will eat until it’s gone or it’s gut explodes. I am a horse. So is Emmett.

By the same token, when we have reached our limit, we go from 100% MEGAWATT ON!!!!! to HOLY SHIT, OFF!! in like 35 seconds. For me, that usually means I’m hungry or tired, and usually results in snappishness, added clumsiness, irritability with the general public and general unease. Actually, I am pretty sure that holds true for Emmett as well, except he often also suffers from poop-desperation (when he must poop and cries until we can find a suitable pooping locale) and I seldom have that problem.

Emmett got tired, so he put himself to bed.
Emmett got tired, so he put himself to bed.

So, sometimes he can be testy. And clingy. And throw tantrums when his people leave. Again, like mama like pup.

Traveling with Emmett is most of the time more fun than not traveling with Emmett. He loves meeting people and for two relatively introverted folks, that’s a great way to meet new friends. And he appears to have a keen instinct about who to stay away from–Emmett pretty much likes anyone, but every now and again someone really freaks him out and he growls and barks. I’m always horribly embarrassed in the moment, but later I wonder if maybe Emmett knows something I don’t. I definitely judge people by the way they treat my dog, and the way my dog treats them.

He keeps us moving. I mean, not that we are very sedentary anyway, but if we even have the slightest idea of staying in bed all day, he reminds us that he has other plans. He’s got me on a running schedule, and he’s definitely got ideas about how fast we should be running a mile.

And, frankly, he has the best sense of humor of any of us.

Traveling with a dog can be challenging. Especially in the middle of summer, there’s no hopping off the freeway and ducking into a place for lunch (also can be a cause of poop desperation, see above)–we can’t leave Emmers in the car. We have to find accommodations that allow dogs. Our daytime activities have to involve our furry companion. Even going into the grocery store has become a juggling act. While Seattle is an incredibly dog friendly city, we are finding (and bound to find even more as we head east) that most cities and establishments are decidedly less so. Someone suggested at a cafe last week that we leave him tied up outside the outdoor fence. We were appalled and left. Please. Emmett would not stand that sort of treatment–and let me tell you, he’d make it very clear that he was unhappy.

Which bespeaks a new issue.

In two short weeks, Emmett has become fairly convinced that he is, in fact, a person. I mean, he’s with his people all the time. Most of our decisions are made to accommodate him. We eat out exclusively at breweries because they are almost always dog friendly. My running is scheduled around his bowel movements. We run errands in shifts so he isn’t left alone in a hot car or, god forbid, our Airbnb where he might go off the rails (not that he would rip things to shreds, but he might howl incessantly). This is going to be an issue when we finally do arrive at our home and have to break it to him that he is, actually, a four-legged and does not receive all the benefits and luxuries of those on two legs.

He doesn't understand why he can't be sitting at the table with us.
He doesn’t understand why he can’t be sitting at the table with us.

I wonder what the Dog Whisperer would say about this? I wonder what sort of monster we are creating?

Brian finds Emmett’s pseudo-humanness hilarious and endearing. He lets him lick all over his face despite the fact that the rest of THE WORLD thinks it’s disgusting. He thinks it’s the funniest thing he’s ever seen when Emmett sits at the table like a person instead of ON THE FLOOR where he probably belongs.

I am not sure I disagree–I guess I hear my dad in my back-brain being utterly disgusted by the whole performance.

What I do know is this: he makes us more human and more fun and more aware of ourselves. Emmett is one big ball of raw feelings and instincts. He tries valiently to eat the deer we see on our runs because that’s what his instincts tell him to do. He bounces and gallops toward you, even after you’ve simply vanished into the bathroom for three minutes because he is legitimately THAT excited to see you. When he hears a fire truck and he howls at the top of his lungs, wagging his tail like he’s pretty sure he’s found his lost brethren, well, you feel kinda sad that he hasn’t.

I started writing this without a conclusion. I am pretty sure our parenting skills leave something to be desired. We are probably laughable, in fact. I don’t know if creating our life on the road around this guy is a good idea. But, as I write I’ve found this: what I do know is that my dog make me a better person. Mr. B would agree. Cheesy? Maybe. But true. He reminds us how brilliant unadulterated emotion is, and that that kind of vulnerability also has huge rewards. We laugh like children, he drives us to fits of anger, but his loyalty has earned ours. Sarcasm, which I firmly believe is a gross approximation of true cleverness, doesn’t work on Emmett. Emmett doesn’t know the meaning of irony or cynicism. He simply is, without subtext.

We should probably strive to be more like him.

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