“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”
― Julia Child
Coming home after a long day at the office, some men are ready to kick off their shoes, grab a cold beverage and sink into a chair and oblivion. As a happily married man, I am excited if my wife gets home first, or if we are coming home from work at the same time, because we get the chance to eat together. At other times, I never have to stress about an empty home -even though my kids are adults and out on their own — I have dogs. Cat- people may have affectionate cats, but most of the time, a cat will not show emotion. And I have rarely seen a cat get up to greet me at the door. But, if you share a home with a dog or two, there are always certain rituals of affection, feeding, and walking that make you feel welcomed.
When I get home, both Comet and Dexter are very excited as they dance or hop ( Comet, I swear – hops when excited) carrying their fuzzy squeaky toys while greeting me at the front door. I give them a lot of pets and “good boys” – particularly when I see that Comet did not pull any food trash out of the kitchen onto the living room floor. But both of them will pile onto me for scratches, pets and carrying on for a several minutes, all the while eyeballing the closet doorknob where I hang their leashes and halters.
If I should happen to get settled into that chair to check WordPress for example, Comet very soon starts poking my arm, tries to crawl into my lap if the first attempt is ineffective, or barks a couple of times as a last resort. Dexter is as persistent, but he has an additional trick by crawling under the desk if I am sitting there. If I am on the couch, both modify their approach. Comet attempts first to crawl onto me, and Dexter thrusts his butt at me to scratch it. In both parts of the house, these will prompt me to go to the leashes and we are off for a brisk walk.
When my wife and I get up in the morning, if either of us stumble to the kitchen to start the coffee, Comet is immediately up and following her. Dexter is right behind. There is always the possibility of some dog chow or a biscuit, if the lady is in the kitchen. Comet will “remind” her, by sitting – unasked – near the refrigerator. He knows that sitting is always the expectation before he gets food. ( Even is none is offered first.) Dexter bangs the cupboard door next to the refrigerator. For years, until we bought boxes too large, he knew biscuits were stored in that cupboard. And he sits impatiently. Both dogs know there is a division of labor between the lady and man of the house. The source of food was the lady. Once bellies were satisfied, all attention shifts to the man who walks them. Division of labor and affection.
Walking two dogs is always a study in contrasts. Dexter want everyone and everything to notice his coming. His excited, even hopeful, whining is his expectation that he might earn some other’s attention. Comet is focused on marking territory. He might even pee on Dexter if Dexter steps into the path by a weed, hydrant or bush Comet has selected.
With a first day back to work, a family member in the hospital, recently purchases groceries – steak and chicken that I needed to cook by Tuesday, I got home later than I have in several weeks. But there was a great comfort in the dogs’ goofiness. Petting, biscuits, immediately rushing out the door as dusk turned to darkness, and getting home to fire up the barbecue grill. This was delayed gratification and more relaxation for me. My wife and brother-in-law were still at the hospital waiting for news on their dad’s surgery. I was distracted by emotion, the work day, the dogs and home, and so cooking was a comfort to me.
I am trying to get back on the Paleo- or ketosis-prompting eating regimen that I started before going myself in the hospital. Vegetables, good fats, and protein. No carbohydrates – or very, very few. I was supposed to grill steaks and chicken on Sunday afternoon. With our dad now doing well after surgery, a barbecue seemed like “normal” could creep back into the house.
And both Dexter and Comet were very comforting. “Hey, you have five steaks on the grill and there are three of us. Make mine medium rare.” Yes, dogs make me feel right at home.