Quiet Desperation

Human-dog relationship status: ‘It’s uncomplicated’

Column by Craig Marshall Smith
Posted 7/10/18

Why does your dog lick your face? You say, “My dog doesn’t lick my face.” Do me a favor, and just play along. Your dog licks your face because it tastes like a ham on rye. How can your face …

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Quiet Desperation

Human-dog relationship status: ‘It’s uncomplicated’

Posted

Why does your dog lick your face? You say, “My dog doesn’t lick my face.” Do me a favor, and just play along.

Your dog licks your face because it tastes like a ham on rye.

How can your face taste like a ham on rye if you’re a vegetarian? It can’t. This isn’t the correct answer.

Harry is almost 9 months old, and he still licks my face, especially first thing in the morning.

I am undecided about it.

It is either a good example of bad parenting, or rather pleasurable. After all, I am a Scorpio.

It makes me think about the queen and her corgis. Do any of them wake the queen with their tongues, as it were?

I doubt it.

My guess is her corgis are trained before she meets them, and she misses out on all of the fun I am having with Harry.

Harry licks my face for a number of reasons, according to everything I have read.

It’s a sign of affection.

Harry is showing his gratitude. For what?

He doesn’t live in a home with an Elvis impersonator.

He doesn’t live in a home with country music.

He doesn’t live in a home with cats.

He’s grateful because he lives in a home.

It means we’re friends.

He licks me because there are tiny food particles in my skin? Unfortunately, it’s probably true.

It relieves stress. Maybe you know someone who bites their nails. Licking is similar.

Harry doesn’t bite his nails. I wish he would. I have to take him to the vet to get it done, and it’s not cheap.

Do it myself? I don’t think he would sit still long enough. I would end up trimming his nose.

Licking releases pleasurable endorphins.

His or mine?

Some of Harry’s current behavior will be trained out of him, and some of it will end on its own. He’ll grow out of many of the things he is doing now.

Truth is, I know I am going to miss some of it.

By reason, age, and logic, Harry is my fourth and final dog. He might outlive me.

I will never have another puppy of my own in my life.

Once or twice a day, he runs a figure-8 around the living room and dining room and it’s a blur.

I have no idea how he does it. Around the dining room table into the living room, behind the couch, and back to the dining room. Lap after lap.

And then he comes to an immediate halt and looks up at me with Those Eyes.

Sure: I wish he would sit, stay, come when called, relieve himself where directed, and welcome strangers in our home. Maybe that time will come.

But these days are wonderful. He is making new discoveries every day, and I get to see that happen.

I watch him run his 8s, and I feel younger again myself.

He sits near me when I write, waiting impatiently for me to finish so I can walk him, pet him, feed him, read to him, hold him.

My disposition leans like Pisa to pessimism about people and The World. My little friend improves my life without knowing it.

Or maybe he does?

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.

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