The Dude

White fur, tawny ears that point up like Yoda’s. Brown eyes that are soft and sweet.

This is my true love. My best friend, my Duder.

My dog.

I hesitate to call him “mine,” because I don’t like the idea that we as humans own dogs. Any more than we own the people we love in our lives. The Dude is my companion, one who just happens to be a dog, and probably even closer to me because of it.

I have a new habit while driving lately. Makes me very happy. It gives that kind of glow I’m sure something like human parents feel when they gaze in silent wonder at their babies in cribs, or watch them take their first steps or graduate high school.

If I tilt the vanity mirror just right, it’s not in my way and I can see Dude in the backseat as we ride. He has a seat belt harness that keeps him secure back there, and while he used to fight it he seems to be more docile about it lately. In fact, if I’m lazy or forget to strap him down, when the ride starts he’ll sit right there in that spot as if he were buckled in.

What a good dog.

So, I glance at Duder in the vanity mirror as we ride. I watch him at stoplights and in traffic, careful to stay mindful of the road and all else important that’s going on.

But I’m sure I’m a better driver while I’m smiling like that.

Dude looks completely in the moment while he’s riding along. He uses all his senses to scope the scene: sniffing at the air, twitching his ears at every little sound, closing his eyes against a breeze if the window’s open. Sometimes he looks a little nervous, but most times he’s smiling. He’ll pant and wag his tongue, point his nose into the air, and at moments look just blissful that we’re doing such a wonderful thing as riding in the car.

He can’t see me watching him, of course, and that’s the beauty thing about this. Normally he’ll connect with whatever person is looking at or talking to him. But the Duder I see in that mirror is just natural, the calm, sweet, zen Duder that I know and very much love. Just breathing it all in and happy to be alive.

What more could a girl ask for in a best friend?

He’s waiting in the car for me now, so it’s time for another ride.

Later, Dude.

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