When Jon is gone I allow the dog into bed, though he never believes me. I don’t do it for her; she doesn’t care. She sleeps in dirt and roots through garbage. Our standards are different. I just like her beside me when the house is empty.
She is a good dog, a beautiful dog. She is the only dog I’ve ever known who will allow you to completely engulf her in your arms without writhing away.
It amazes me that she doesn’t bite. It would be so easy, particularly if I am sleeping. She could lunge at my throat, or tear my lips. You hear about dog attacks all the time. I would tell you that she is gentle and perfect and beautiful and that all wilderness has been abandoned in her but I know that’s not true.
Once, but only once, I wronged her somehow in bed and she leapt up and stood over me, lowered her face to my face and started speaking. Not snarls or whines, but something else. Disgusted muttering. I moved to calm her but she shuddered like a disgruntled spouse from my reach. I never did learn what I did wrong. She eventually forgave me and quickly fell asleep without leaving my side.
Last night I slept beside her. She sleeps like a child or a lover, with her face turned toward you. Sometimes our noses touch. It’s only until you have a dog like this that you understand why we sometimes choose them over people. We often fall asleep with my hands curled into the soft fur beneath her ears. So trusting.
“How can you let me do that to you?” I’ll ask her. Her head is so small. I could crush it in my hands. I once said that aloud to a boyfriend, “I could crush her skull in my hands if I wanted to,” and he looked at me like I was a monster. I’ve since learned to exclude those thoughts from most conversation, except to Jon, who doesn’t mind comments like that. We’re all capable of more than we’d like to ever admit to most people. But he knows what I know, what Pax knows.
Within us all lies a savage.