Gilgamesh is pooped today: holidays mean a ton of extra noise and stimulation, a total lack of the periodic naps which punctuate normal days, visiting dogs who may or may not have great social skills and equally unpredictable human visitors, and sometimes a lot of human stress which dogs pick up and carry around with them.

Holiday tales of thieved turkey carcasses and pies, living-room fights, under-bed-hiding, and much worse almost seem the norm at this time of year.

Gilly didn’t supply any dramatic stories. He was hospitable, and turned the practice of dog-to-dog manners into an extreme sport: when tested, he ignored or de-escalated the situation, and when overwhelmed, he put himself in his chair and took a time-out until he felt like rejoining the fracas. He got abundant and delicious treats in very, very small quantities, which made him happy – and as a result of restraint he didn’t contribute much to the clouds of gas supplied by some dogs who shall remain nameless. His anxiety was pretty low in spite of the noise and crowding; his interest and engagement with the goings on only got a tiny bit frantic when the pumpkin pie came out (and I react to pumpkin pie the same way, so who can blame him). He snuggled up with me from time to time, for love’s sake. He didn’t bark, enter into territory wars, bicker, steal, vomit, cry, fight, hide, or otherwise express hysteria. He was mostly entertained by the day, occasionally exhausted by it, and quietly relieved when everyone left and we went to bed.

He started snoring the instant he got horizontal.

Sitting there watching him, I thought about some of the struggles we’ve gotten through, how much work he and I have put in to learning how to help each other be happy and healthy and well in all situations, and how much that work has paid off for us both. I thought about the day from his point of view, and was – as I so often am – amazed: he’s not perfect and neither am I, but he’s amazing.

When I got into bed and spooned him, he opened one eye and thumped his tail.

Thanks, Gilly, I said. You are such an incredibly good dog. I can always rely on you. You make my life a better place.

He thumped his tail once more, then started snoring again.


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