Titus the Therapy Dog
At the beginning of last week, someone in the office posted on our Staff site that the St. John’s Ambulance Society would be bringing therapy dogs into our building on Friday, and if anyone wanted to come and see them, they would be in the lobby from 11 am to 2 pm. You can only imagine how excited I was—I love dogs, and I only get to see Titus on weekends, thanks to living in a large city so I can be close to work. In the spring, we were doing an event off-site, and there was supposed to be someone coming with a miniature Chihuahua service dog, and it was all we could talk about for weeks. Of course, we were told that we weren’t allowed to PET the dog, since it was a working animal, and I was like, “What kind of service is THAT?” and I was secretly betting that the woman would let us pet it. I mean, what’s the point of having a tiny ball of adorable dogginess if you can’t share it with anyone, am I right? But if not, we would understand, and just stare at it lovingly. Then the day finally came, and we all, seemingly nonchalantly but inwardly super-pumped, strolled down to the room where the woman would be, only to discover that she hadn’t shown up for the event. It was such a letdown, and worse was when we went back to the office, and people kept asking, “Did you see the Chihuahua?” and it just kept bringing all those feelings of disappointment back again.
Also, I regularly annoy people in my condo building when they bring their dogs onto the elevator, and I only speak to the dog, as in “So what’s your name? Are you a good girl? Are you going for a walk?” and the owners feel obliged to answer, but in my head, it’s actually the dog and me having a conversation. I also do that to small children, but THEIR parents don’t seem to mind, perhaps recognizing that their babies can’t talk. Unlike dogs, some of whom secretly can. Quite often when we’re out with Titus, people try to engage him in conversation, which he steadfastly ignores:
Random Stranger: Ooh, who’s a big boy? Who’s got a lovely coat? Does he like the vet?
Me: The man was asking you questions. Why didn’t you answer?
Titus: I assumed he was being rhetorical. You know, if you leave people alone long enough, they eventually answer their own questions all by themselves.
Random Stranger: Ooh, YOU’RE the big boy! Yes, he’s so shiny. I’ll bet he LOVES the vet.
Titus: I rest my case.
So Friday came, but I got sidetracked by a PowerPoint I was working on, until suddenly it was around 1 pm, and somebody said, “Hey, did you see the dogs?” And I was like, “The dogs?! Are they still here?! Please tell me they’re still here!” And then I tried to coerce the nice gentleman I work with to come downstairs with me:
Me: There are dogs in the lobby! Come and pet them with me!
Colleague: Um, no, that’s OK.
Me: But you’re ALLOWED to pet them!
Colleague: I’m good, thanks. REALLY.
Then I remembered that I’d tried to get the same man to look at naked ladies last week, so he was probably suspicious that the dogs were a euphemism or something. Everybody else had already gone down to see the dogs (I know because I asked), but then one of my French colleagues came strolling by. I work with a lot of very cheery and easy-going Francophones, so I called out, “Hey! Il y a des chiens ici! Viens avec moi!” My French is not fantastic, but she said, “Ooh, oui, d’accord!” which of course sounded like “Ooh way dakkar,” because of the Quebecois’ broader accent, but she was nodding, so I guessed she was coming with me. Of course, I hadn’t been specific, and she didn’t know whether or not they were wild dogs and I was trying to help her escape, but again, the French are pretty laidback, so down we went.
There was a crowd of people surrounding three dogs and their handlers, but I kind of slid my way up to the front so I could pet them, on the grounds that I’d had an awkward morning (Slight tangent: I don’t think it’s fair that some people in our office don’t have nameplates on their cubicles. Two days prior, I was visited by two different women from the finance department. Then one of them called me and asked me to sign a document and bring it down to her on the floor below. I opened the door and I saw one of the women, but her cubicle didn’t have a name plate on it. She looked at me, and I looked at her. I didn’t know how to get out of it gracefully, so I held up the document game-show style, smiled cheekily, and said, “This is for Desiree!” in a kind of sing-songy way. So if SHE was Desiree, she would be like, “Oh thanks!” in the same sing-songy voice, and if she WASN’T, she could say, “I’ll bet she’ll be happy to get it!” and then I would know. As it turned out, she wasn’t Desiree, and her response was, “Desiree’s cubicle is right down there”, so I feel simultaneously clever, and awkward as f*ck. Tangent over.) Anyway, I NEEDED to pet a dog. I’ll bet people would have forgiven Donald Trump for pushing aside the Prime Minister of Montenegro if he’d been trying to get to a puppy.
The dogs were beautiful, and totally calm as people petted them and scratched them behind their ears, but I noticed something weird—none of their tails were wagging, and none of them would make eye contact. Even if you tried to look at them, they would turn their heads away. In short, these dogs all seemed like they needed their OWN dogs to pet, because they all seemed depressed. I’ve never yet seen a dog that didn’t wag its tail when people were talking to it and petting it, unless it was scared. I mean, I don’t know a lot about therapy dogs, but the best thing about ANY dog is how happy they are to see YOU. That’s why dogs are so great. No matter how sh*tty you feel, the dog is always like, “Oh my god! You’re home! This is the best day ever!” So I got to pet the dogs, but the stress of worrying about how sad they looked cancelled out the therapy part of the experience. How do you even train a dog to NOT wag its tail? I kind of don’t want to think about it. One of the dogs, Tucker, was a Golden Retriever who even had his own business card, and on the business card, he had a huge smile on his face. In person though, it was like the time when T was around 7 years old and we took him to see Brent Butt, the comedian. We’d watched Brent on “Corner Gas” for years, and T loved him. His stand-up show was hilarious, and afterwards, he was signing autographs, so we lined up. When we got there, we told him how much T liked him and T told him how funny he thought the show was. Brent Butt just flatly said, “Thanks,” and turned away to the next person in line, like he was really bored. So maybe that was the problem—these dogs were temperamental celebrities. Anyway, I arrived home on Friday night:
Titus: You’re here!! This is the best day ever! Pop the cork on the champagne!
Me: I’m happy to see you too, buddy. C’mere and let me rub that tummy.
Titus: With pleasure! Wait—have you been around any other dogs today? Don’t lie. You know how good my sense of smell is. For example, I detect that you had white wine on the train—a Riesling, 2016, I believe.
Me: I ALWAYS have wine on the train, Sherlock. But yeah, they had therapy dogs at work.
Titus: Therapy dogs? Those guys have no sense of humour.
Me: I know, right? I guess I’m too used to you, you big goof.
Titus: That’s right, baby. I’m the only therapy you need.
Saturday: Lines of communication
On Friday, I went out for lunch with a couple of people from work to a local restaurant which serves ethnic cuisine. I don’t want to mention what kind, because I’ve had it before from different places without consequence. The meal I ordered didn’t look remotely like what it normally does, but I thought, Hey—maybe they are regional variations. It tasted OK, although it was a lot spicier than normal. Then for dinner that night, I had Cajun chicken wings and nachos with hot peppers. It’s no surprise then that I woke up about three o’clock in the morning feeling pretty sh*tty. I tossed and turned and finally went back to sleep around 6. When I woke up at 8, Ken had already gotten out of bed. I lay there for a while, all miserable and still feeling lousy, so I did what any normal person would do: I called Ken.
Phone rings and rings…
Ken (groggy): Uh…hello?
Me: It’s me.
Ken: Why are you calling me?
Me: I don’t feel well. What are you doing right now?
Ken: Well, I WAS having a nap on the couch. But then the phone rang and I had to get up to answer it, so thanks.
Me: Well, I tried your cell phone, but you didn’t pick up.
Ken: Why didn’t you just come downstairs?
Me: Because I’m all cozy.
Ken: Yeah, so was I, until I had to ANSWER THE PHONE.
Me: Can you bring up some batteries? I can’t turn the TV on because the remote is dead.
Ken: You could always get up and turn it on—Sigh. Never mind. I’ll be right up.
Me: Bring Titus with you. I need a hug.