Share a pizza with someone you love

No, I didn’t take Reggie out for pizza last night, but he probably could have used some comfort food. See, my poor doggy got dumped for Valentine’s Day.

Reggie in Randolph, MA

Okay, that’s being a bit dramatic. But I was indeed surprised and saddened to find a “Dear John” letter in yesterday’s mail: my long-time pet-sitter here in Keene is going out of business at the end of the month. So although Reggie and “E” will have one last chance to bond this weekend, for subsequent getaways I’ll need to find alternate options for dog daycare.

Let me be the first to admit it (as I’ve done before): Reggie is utterly spoiled. One of the perks of being the only pet of a childless woman is you get all those sublimated maternal instincts focused on your own four-legged self. From the moment I adopted Reggie from a Massachusetts animal rescue league some 5 years ago, he’s been the undisputed Center of Attention. He has free rein in the house, goes for daily walks and frequent off-leash hikes, and gets more than his share of People Food “accidentally dropped” from counters and tabletops. Reg has irretrievably claimed my couch for his too damn furry self, and although he usually waits to be “invited” onto my bed when I’m working or sleeping there, heaven knows how much time he spends abed when I’m gone.

Reggie meditates in Hillsboro, NH

In a word, Reggie has no idea he’s a dog. When the Southern New Hampshire Zen Group used to meet in my house in Hillsborough, Reggie wanted to be a part of the (non)action. Does a dog have Buddha nature? You bet he does was Reg’s in-your-face, dog-breathed reply. Although we eventually contained Reg in a bedroom or basement while folks were meditating, Reggie regularly practices with me, doing “lying down meditation” while I chant or sit. In some Buddhist traditions, lazy monks are chastened with the warning that if they don’t mend their ways, they’ll come back as a dog in their next life, and I have no doubt that Reg was a lazy monk in his previous incarnation. Reggie was full-grown, house-broken, and well past his puppy chew-everything phase when I adopted him in 1998, and the only two non-doggie things he’s tried to chew were a string of wooden meditation beads and the wooden striker to a ritual percussion instrument. I’m convinced that Reg wasn’t destroying the tools of the Dharma: the old monk in him was trying to practice!

Reggie in boots, Hillsboro, NH

If it seems absurd (and it is) to buy snow booties and a blaze orange hunting vest for a dog, keep in mind that Reg is not only my roommate and hiking partner, he’s my long-time travel buddy. Not only has Reg come along for countless car rides to and from my folks’ home in Ohio, he’s logged not one but two cross-country road trips, going RVing in Arizona, hiking in California, and taking countless sniffing-stops in between.

When Reggie can’t go with me on trips, I’ve always been comforted by the thought that he’s at home in a familiar environment, a trusted person enlisted to check in on him, see that he’s fed, and take him for his requisite daily walks. In the end, it’s me, not Reg, who balks at the thought of a kennel. This isn’t just a dog: this is Woman’s Best Friend.

Reggie goes RVing in Arizona

Enjoying the scenery in San Diego

Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona

Hiking in Sedona

Reggie rests in Maine

So, over the next few days I’ll be doing something more harrowing than working the Desperate & Dateless scene: I’ll be searching for a Substitute Mom for my pampered pooch. Although I’d like to find a pet-sitter who would care for Reg right here at home, the thought of trusting someone new with my dog and the keys to my apartment is a bit daunting: I’m not sure I’m ready for that. Although for years I’ve balked at the thought of kenneling Reg, this summer I have the itch to travel, and although I have no qualms about taking Reg on any of my envisioned road trips, I know that once I get somewhere, I very well might want to do some indoor, non-dog-friendly activities amonst the hiking and outdoorsy stuff. So as much as I hate the thought, it might be time to get this Old Dog (myself) used to a New Trick: since it might be more convenient for everyone if I had the freedom to leave Reg for a day or two at the canine equivalent of summer camp, I think I’m going to seek out a kennel here in Keene where both Reg and I can get used to the idea. Now if only I could find a kennel that serves pizza…