I would like to trade places with my six-month-old puppy Polaris just for a little while, so I could feel the happiness she seems to feel. She has such incredible joy in life, energy and general good humor.
What must it be like? I try to imagine what goes through her mind. I put down her bowls, and her excitement erupts. She must be thingking,* “Oh boy, it’s dog food! My favorite! And water! I love that stuff!”*
Everything is an object of intense curiosity. In the yard, she chases every flying insect, and attempts to harry the squirrels. They mostly ignore her, because she can’t reach their feeder no matter how hard she jumps. She gives them play-bows, and reacts with disappointment when they don’t come down from their lofty perch.
But no matter, there’s a stick! She acts like she just found Jimmy Hoffa and Amelia Earhart sharing a drink from the Holy Grail-- it’s the most amazing item she’s ever discovered! It’s two feet long, and she grips it in the middle, as she does a victory lap around the yard to show the world her astonishing treasure.
And now she smells a stinky spot, perfect for rolling! The stick is utterly forgotten. BUTTERFLY!!! She bolts after it, and leaps into the air, easily twice her height. After a few moments, it appears she’s not really trying to catch the butterfly-- she’s jumping and twisting in the air for the sheer joy of it.
Back into the house, where there’s the long and difficult process of distinguishing what belongs to Polaris and what belongs to the strange, tall, furless beings who provide food and belly rubs. They’re very selfish, these strange-smelling creatures. There are so many interesting things, begging to be chewed! Shoes, remote controls, pencils stolen from tables . . . but the true prizes are the wads of tissue in the bathroom trash.
It’s Puppy Crack. She’ll do anything to have a chance at grabbing one. As I was turning on the shower this morning, she came into the bathroom, and acted like she was obediently climbing into the tub for a bath, turned and snatched a tissue, and ran like hell.
But just to look down into her face tells you she’s the happiest creature alive. Her eyes shine, her tongue lolls out, her ears perked up, and her entire back end wags (not just the tail-- oh, no-- Polaris does nothing by half measures.) She twitches with excitement at anything new.
And why shouldn’t she be happy? She’s in an air-conditioned house with lots of nice, soft places to nap. Her bowl overfloweth with food and fresh water, and every now and then, the furless beings toss down a tasty chew. But I imagine she would be just as happy living with me in a carboard box.
I wish I could feel her joy for just an hour.