Shuffles with Shihtzus

I’ve been watching a lot of frontier movies lately as I’ve been a little depressed and watching people die in the open planes with arrows sticking out of them seems to bring me some joy and comfort. Last week was Dances with Wolves. Where did you think I’d gotten the imagery of the previous sentence?

There’s a scene in this movie wherein soldier John Dunbar finds a degree of solace and freedom on the open plains and frontier. He befriends a wolf with whom he becomes a dance partner. The two are seen doing the Four Foot two-step and his moniker is born with the local indigenous peoples. Then everyone dies.

It’s when imbibing frontier movies that I embark upon a little fantasy. In this fantasy I am John Dunbar. I am laconic, stoic, and at turmoil over inner peace. I am driven towards solace. Not one of these things represents my actual reality in any way. Further, I have moved west. I have been noted by local indigenous populations. I smell like a ferret. Of course in my fantasy, I quietly toil through the day fixing horseshoes and drinking in the open air and nothing things down in my leather journal. My legs are much longer. None of it makes much sense.

I don’t really want to spend any time with wolves. I am fairly certain I’d decide to go visit some after having too much to drink and become a headline in the morning paper and a winner of a Darwin Award. I think I am much more comfortable with my current animalistic situation. I share a small flat with a woman and two four-legged animals – a 17-year-old cat and a 2.5-year-old shihtzu. These animals – wonky-eyed, needy, soft – are much more my speed.

It is not just my opinion; it is theirs. My cat and dog treat me as though I am one of them, only slightly shorter and with a genetic defect that allows me to turn the knobs on the stove and open up the door. They spend all of their time on or very near me. I sleep with a Shihtzu resting comfily in the arc of my legs and with a cat sleeping snugly on my chest. Burke was irritated by this at first, seeing it as a slight. But after 400 + straight days of sleeping unencumbered by a furry animal, she has changed her tune.

It doesn’t stop at bed. A trip to the bathroom involves me, a book, and two animals who sit beneath me and just hang out. An afternoon or evening of cooking is done in the presence of a cat Sphinxing on a shelf and a dog lying on a low box. Both wait for scraps. They are surprised when they are offered. Every single morning I work on the couch from about 5:30-7:30 flanked by two little sleeping animals.

So it is with some minor regret that I am not Dances with Wolves, but rather Shuffles with Shihtzus. But a person must be true to their nature. If you need me, I will be in the living room shuffling with a Shihtzu and with a cat on my chest.

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