The computer whirred into life this morning faster than I did… not difficult, of course. I need coffee, copious amounts of coffee. The computer, however, chirps into readiness almost as quickly as the dog.
To be fair to Ani, although she is poised with every muscle frozen mid-launch, those first few moments when I enter the room are special. No-one else will ever see them, she cannot possibly contain her excitement if anyone else is here, but for me there is a quiet hello. She tucks herself into a small, sphinx like bundle of taut immobility and waits near the window, eyes fixed on mine. Other than sleep, it is the only time she is ever at rest. But for those moments the whirly girl is still. I speak to her and she makes odd little grunting noises at me. I sit on the floor with her and we cuddle and share a few moments of quiet love.
She stays like this until I ask if she wants to go outside… at which point she becomes a small tornado, dancing in bouncy circles and grinning while I turn the key in the back door. Diving outside she greets the morning with exuberance, checking the sky for intruding pigeons and ensuring we have a cat free garden. She will not now be still unless I have to go out, then I know I will return to those few moments of stillness when I come home.
To everyone else she is either an annoyingly or delightfully bouncy creature, who definitely has several loose screws and more energy than a nuclear physicist would know how to handle. As I write the ball is constantly retrieved and placed on the shelf below the keyboard, ready for me to throw. She will break from this game if someone passes or she hears a noise she has to investigate. She would make a superb guard dog as long as she only had to play with intruders.
Before you say it, I am well aware her lunacy says far more about me than it does about her. In her daftness I let off steam, find laughter and with her I play like a child. I could, of course, take a hard line and train her into obedient and compliant sobriety. It would definitely have its uses. It would be convenient. Even I admit it would be nice to have a telephone conversation without the demands to play ball, or her inevitable bark intruding down the line. I freely admit I would rather find cheese in the fridge than the tennis ball she left there in its place.
But would she then be ‘my’ Ani? Or indeed her own?
In spite of the whirlwind quality, she is incredibly gentle with small creatures, cuddlesome when needed and treats my eldest son like glass, understanding his limitations instinctively, adapting her games and strength to his needs. Indeed, she overcompensates for the muscle weakness, is overprotective of him and Nick can barely get a decent game out of her.
She unstuffs her bed on a daily basis, rules me with a flick of her eye and the velvet glove of her head on my knee, kidnaps stray food, all the recycling and anything vaguely ball shaped. She is possibly the most inconvenient animal I have ever met. And would I change a thing? Honestly? No.
Of course a quiet, sedate Ani would be nice occasionally, but that is more for my convenience and that of my guests. Her nature is joyous, she shares her exuberance with the world and it is hardly her fault if the world is not in the mood to handle her energetic laughter.
And really, just because she is ‘mine’, does that give me any right to attempt to change her nature? Because she has traits that can be considered flaws in a dog, that are occasionally annoying, that reflect badly on me as an ‘owner’… like barking at pigeons or excited whirlyness… does that make her less beautiful, of less value?
She is a creature of absolutes who lives and loves and gives her attention to the moment. She loves with her whole being, laughs with her whole body, chases birds with utter abandon and sleeps in utter relaxation.
And I love her. As she is.
It is one thing, in a relationship, to make those changes that allow us to be able to fit the pieces of our lives together in harmony. Yet so often we try to change others, or even ourselves to fit an accepted ideal, to conform to what we feel we should or ought to be. When we love we can tie ourselves in knots to become what we think the other person wants… or we subtly attempt to bring them to change things about themselves that fit with our desires.
To recognise flaws and problems should not prevent us from loving regardless. To seek change within ourselves should not mean we hate what we are, we should be able to feel a love for who we are, and for each other, in wholeness and beauty. A love that recognises and includes the things that may need to change within. That sees the wholeness of the rough diamonds that we are, knowing that within the unpolished rock may be a flawless jewel waiting to be discovered.