September 11, 2015

Living Alone is Never Lonely with Dogs

I can't imagine two faces I would rather wake up to every morning.

I've lived alone in Denver for close to ten years now, with my dad staying with me off and on for the past few years. A friend said recently that she had never lived alone, and didn't know if she could. I'm an introvert who relishes solitude and independence, but without animal companionship I'm positive I would not enjoy it to the extent that I do. As much as I admire and aspire to the idea of a life-affirming wilderness trek like Cheryl Strayed in Wild, if I didn't have a dog along the journey would be missing something crucial.

More recently, with the addition of first Ruby and then Boca, I've become even more of a homebody as I leveled up in the dog crazy echelons. While I love brunches with friends and visits to the museum, the truth is that the place I'd most often rather be is home with my dogs. I just can't seem to get enough of watching them interact with each other, refining my own communication with them, and the simple reassurance of their physical presence. We enjoy each other without expectation, without a common spoken language.

We love spending time outside together.

Ruby is approaching 3 years old and has become such a sweet and happy girl. She is so affectionate and the quiet moments of the early morning when she is still sleepy and snuggly are one of my favorite parts of the day. She usually sleeps curled up near my pillow, while Boca sleeps at my feet. When Ruby wakes up she stretches herself across my chest, kisses my face and waits for her ear scratches, then will sometimes roll over cradled in the nook of my arm for belly rubs.  

A blissful Boca in a room of her own.

Boca remains the easiest dog in the universe. She is happiest laying around in various states of sprawl. In the sun on the patio, in her crate (the only time I ask her to go in it is when they get tendons, fish skins or marrow bones but she will open the door herself and sleep there every evening between about 8 and 10 when we go to bed), on the loveseat, sofa or bed. This morning she was curled up cozily on top of two pillows - a potcake princess and the pea. I've started playing tug with her regularly (Ruby plays tug almost every night) - she is a much more challenging opponent than Ruby and is still working on her manners, but she learned very quickly not to lunge and re-grip when she drops it, but rather to sit and wait for me to give the tug back. This nightly ritual of play with both girls has become very dear to me.

Patio sentries and formidable fly hunters.

I was thinking about how the personalities of Ruby and Boca compare and contrast both to one another, and to my previous pair of dogs, Lasya and Freya. Freya was fearful and slightly neurotic, clingy and affectionate. I felt she needed my protection. Lasya was perhaps the doggiest dog I've ever known - very in touch with her huntress side, calm and wise with no use for rules or regret. I felt protected by her.

In a similar way I have that balance with Ruby and Boca. Ruby is intense and hypervigilant, requiring my help to navigate an overwhelming world and channel all that energy. She is also probably the smartest dog I've ever known, and the smallest dog I've ever had (with the exception of my foster Chihuahua, Vlad). I feel fiercely and devotedly protective of her. Boca is unassuming, optimistic, humorous and determinedly relaxed, but I get a sense of profound loyalty from her as well. I feel safe with her. However the three of us negotiate our different roles, what's always is true is that we aren't alone. We are home, we are together, we are loved.


  1. Awwww... such a sweet post. I couldn't imagine a life without a dog.

  2. A few family members always ask why I don't just give up Bain so I can live in a more affordable home and be able to travel and make more plans with ease. I'd never, of course.

    Being more of an introvert myself, I know I'd be quite miserable, less active and moody without having my pets around. Bain inspires me, and he also takes up the same spot on the bed where my boyfriend used to sleep!

  3. Awe! This is such a great post! <3 They are so cute! I don't blame you for wanting to spend most of your time with them! I feel the same way about my girls, too!

  4. With every sentence, I'm nodding in total agreement. :) I work from home and my two little dogs - and now our newly adopted 12 year old cat - are my constant companions. I have never minded being alone. I have enough interests to last more than a lifetime ~ but without my little guys I think I would be missing out on the best part of life. People - meh - I don't need so much; my dogs and cat - I couldn't live without.

  5. I have to laugh when people ask if I like living alone. With four dogs and a cat, I rarely manage to go to the bathroom alone; I could not imagine life different.

  6. Lovely post! I thoroughly enjoyed living on my own before I got Soth, but the second he made it through my apartment doors I knew I could never go back to being completely on my own again. Barley's just made that idea even more unfathomable.

  7. A home isn't home without our dog companions. Ruby and Boca look like such sweet and loving family.

  8. Just look at those happy faces out in the sun; it's such a wonderful sight. I would love to have 2 doggie companions one day, I really miss watching the daily interactions, but that being said I keep myself more than busy with Laika. I just miss all those bitey face wrestle mania evenings I used to enjoy growing up around multiple dogs.

  9. This is so sweet! It's great to have dogs that balance you (and each other!) out.

  10. I share these sentiments. Lasya sounds as if she was much like my girl.

  11. Oh, this is so lovely. I love seeing how Ruby has changed as you've had her, too. I think your girls must know how lucky and unlonely they are living with you, too. <3


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