For Christmas, my parents gave me a jar filled with over six hundred small slips of paper written with conversation and writing prompts. This is the one of my responses:
My dog, Sunny, is a yellow lab with some retriever mixed in. She’s a retired service dog. She served as an aid for a while, but she was eager to play and so had to move to a home that didn’t need such constant care and attention. We’re a good match, Sunny and I. We both like to help others, and we both like to play silly games with each other.
She’s created a game of chase and capture that drifts over into her dreams. I can tell because she has the same short yip for both that she doesn’t use anywhere else. She will find one of her play balls, and nudge it with her nose, until it rolls across the floor, and then she bats is with her paws around the room until it settles into her goal. It almost looks like a kid practicing soccer. She yips when she makes her goal, and then looks to me for approval. I cheer, and then we go get a treat.
She really is quite adorable when she sleeps. She dreams about playmates and the individual that she served; she has yips and purls for everything. In her dream, she will lie on her bed, and make furtive movements, seeking her goal until finally, yip, and her goal is completed. She cries and whines when she remembers when someone needed help, and she dashes across open fields of delight. Have I mentioned how adorable she is. Really quite adorable.
… … … …
I don’t really have a dog, and so I can make up whatever I like. I wonder if there is such a dog, who would create her own game so that she could play by herself whenever she was tired of waiting for someone else to come and entertain her. I imagine dogs don’t have very complex dreams, but I may be wrong, maybe they are so elaborately complex in their dream world that they have to compensate for not being able to communicate in the way that humans can understand. No wonder we have movies about dogs that travel miles to come save someone and can talk in complete sentences.
Perhaps it is more like the narration of Wil Wheaton: food, you have food, I like that food, I want some of that food, yes?
Sometimes I wish I could be as simple as that. But probably I would be more like my imaginary friend, Sunny, and make up my own game to amuse myself.
I picked a dog that doesn’t act like a normal dog to be my imaginary friend. I grew up deathly afraid of dogs. I didn’t want to be around them, I was scared they were going to attack me, I was frightened of their unpredictability, their growling barks, and their teeth. Mom and Dad say that I was jumped on by a huge dog when I was two or so, and for ten to fifteen years, I had the hardest time being in the presence of any kind of dog. They were scary, and I learned that they could perceive my fear, which made me all the more reluctant to try to relax.
Some animals, especially those who have been trained to do so, can pick up the underlying emotions and tensions of the people around them. I learned early on that I had to look a dog in the eye, and not let it know that I was afraid of it if I was going to be able to be in the same room with it. To often I reacted in such a way that would set the poor dog off. Luckily, I don’t think anything horrible ever happened because of my jumpiness.
If I were to pick a dog as a companion, I would pick one that was honorable. Rather than the first to react in a tense situation, I want a dog that helps to calm me down. I want an honorable dog from a noble profession, one who helps me to be the best person that I can be. No wonder I created an imaginary friend who helps me play and be calm. That’s the kind of people I like to surround my self with. It makes perfect sense that I would create that kind of companion for myself. I want to be like my imaginary friend: encouraging, playful, and honorable. What a dream.