I bought my husband the funniest New Yorker cartoon birthday card. A middle-aged guy is hunched over on the edge of a bed in a hotel room speaking to his wife on the phone. It is late at night, he is still in his shirt and tie, and his suit jacket is neatly folded beside him. The caption reads, "Yes, yes, yes, I miss you too, honey. Now put the dog on." I was gob smacked by how real this card was.
My husband, John, travels a lot. We too have a number of late night telephone conversations. We too have a dog. Jessie. After John inquires about my day, how our two boys are, and the progress I am making on the exciting domestic duties that fall to me as a single parent ("yes, I remembered to enrol our youngest in music lessons; no, I didn't forget recycling day is tomorrow; crap, I promise I'll remember to pay our overdue electricity bill"), he finally comes around to the question that matters the most to him. In a homesick voice, he always asks me, "How's Jessie"?
I totally understand why a husband would miss his dog. I also understand that he may even miss his dog more than he misses his wife.
It is not a fair competition between Jessie and me. She wins paws down.
I cannot compete with how Jessie greets John when he arrives home. She wags her tail so hard that stuff flies off the shelves. She circles him again and again brushing up close like a long lost lover. My enthusiasm is much more subtle, and subdued. No vigorous tail wagging for one. And, I hate to admit it but I'm often too exhausted to haul myself off the couch to give John a proper welcome. Chalk it up to single parenting for one day too many.
Jessie is also more unconditionally loving and far less bitchy than me (even though she is technically the only real bitch in our family). For her, it's not a question of, "you scratch behind my ears, and I'll scratch behind yours". Nope, she will give unlimited affection and not expect a thing in return (although she won't say no to a liver treat). In contrast, I like to play hardball and admittedly I sometimes don't play fair. But is it so wrong to tell my husband that my libido seems to be inversely correlated to the amount of dishes he has left in the sink? I think not.
Jessie is also way more laid back than me, and certainly places far fewer demands on John. She may bark when she wants one last pee before bed but beyond that she's pretty content. Let's just say that my list of demands would take up the entire space of this blog. I won't bore you. As an example, Jessie is never the least bit fussed that John's suitcase (a.k.a., the new dog-bed) lays unpacked three days after arriving home. She's hoping he never unpacks. I hope he not only unpacks but puts his laundry in the hamper, takes it to the laundry room and does a load of darks. Never mind, let's just start with unpacking.
Does my husband miss me when he's away? Of course he does. But when I hear him ask, "how's Jessie" as he is sitting alone and lonely in his hotel room hundreds of kilometers away, I know he can't wait to walk in the door and get the big slurpy dog kiss he has been waiting for.