Therapy (for my) dog

Tuesday was my first day back on campus for work since mid March. Students won’t be present the first few days, but I was occupied with organizing my library and trying to get a handle on this year’s academic schedule. I’m nervously excited for the new school year, in an elevated way this particular September.

While I have some trepidation about the threat of Covid,  I’m currently more concerned with what may go on this week at home rather than the potential risk of getting sick at work. For the first time in more than five months, my dog is going to be home alone for a significant amount of time.

My six year old yellow Labrador, Jeter Greenwood Lilly, and I have spent the majority of 2020 together. When we’re not out walking or running, we’re on the deck together. If being outside isn’t an option, Jeter follows me from room to room until finally settling on a spot within eyesight of me to nap. We’re bonded, big time.

As I was told recently, Jeter is the boyfriend I always wanted – interested in being with me, enthusiastic in his affection and assertive enough to at times determine the direction in which we’re going. Truth.

Jeter and I spent last week on vacation together. Yes, I do in fact take my dog to Cape Cod.  The place I’ve rented the past few years has a pond so private that daytime skinny dipping is an option and Jeter owns it. From the moment we arrive, all he wants to do is swim. And be with me, of course.

On the raft together

Seriously, as noted by my vacation housemates, this dog is slightly obsessed with me. When we were at the pond together it was nearly impossible to get more than 20 feet away from him. When I took a paddle board out for a spin around the perimeter of the pond, he whined the entire time he was denied my company. It was sweetly pathetic – a characteristic I’m not interested in when it comes to romantic partners, incidentally.

Our Wellfleet week was filled with walks to the ocean, where Jeter was tortured by the presence of nearby birds and piqued the interest of a pod seals swimming remarkably close to shore. He suffered the brutality of green head flies attracted, no doubt, by the briny aroma of his fur after days of swimming. His tail wagged constantly, nonetheless.

Jeter swam every single day, sometimes multiple times, and his love for the water is truly a joy to witness. Despite his almost comic enthusiasm for leaping into the pond, he never failed to check in with me for permission before throwing his body into the water with an impressive splash. Good boy!

If you have a pet, you know how they possess the ability to make a house a home. At the end of a long day, there’s a primal comfort in being welcomed at the door by a beloved animal. I know my lab is going to miss me, but I’d like to believe he’ll make it without either of us needing professional attention or support.

Here’s hoping that Jeter and I, as well as any of you who are resuming a normal schedule in an absolutely abnormal time, have a great first week back. Wear your mask and stay well!





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