See Spot Text

If my dog, Greta, had a cell phone our text thread would go something like this: 

  • When are you getting home? ❤
  • When are you getting home? ❤❤
  • When are you getting home? ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

Whereas my boyfriend’s looks more like this:

  • Heading home.
  • Takeout tonight?
  • My turn or yours?

In other words, a transcript of modern love after over a decade.

When my boyfriend and I first got Greta I ran into a friend at the neighborhood coffee place.

“Don’t get a dog,” she warned over her oversized sunglasses, “Have a baby—a dog is like having a baby that never grows up.”

Nearly four years later I know this: a dog is not like a baby that never grows up; it is like my boyfriend who never did.

Case in point: Sometimes I’ll catch my boyfriend and Greta—both night owls—side-by-side on the sofa watching some British crime drama, a box of Cheddar Bunnies between them, crumbs cascading off the blanket. As I slide open the bedroom’s pocket door, they both turn towards me, eyes cartoon-wide, caught in their late-night-snacking act—my boyfriend in his black T-shirt and sweats, Greta in her black fur—both with a shock of crazy hair cropping up around their ears. 

Busted.

Lately, I’ve begun to wonder if they’re not two halves of the same adolescent soul. They are both creatures of the sofa; able to sleep in well past noon; devour salty snacks whole-box; love the cold; hate the sun; are enthusiastically athletic; averse to shampoo; wake up slightly queasy; love a cozy sweater; and occasionally fend off bad guys in their sleep.

Sometimes I feel outnumbered in the apartment: two lanky creatures who can eat carbs with abandon, against one who cannot.

Surely my boyfriend role-modeled these behaviors, I’ve thought. So if my boyfriend has rubbed off on Greta, why couldn’t Greta rub off on him?

For starters, I’d like more gusto in his greetings when I get home. Even after a four-second absence—after forgetting my umbrella—Greta wags with the same ecstatic disbelief at the front door: you’re back, you’re back, I can’t believe you’re back! Why can’t all my arrivals be treated like ticker-tape homecomings?

Also, I wouldn’t mind if my boyfriend tended to my every sigh as attentively as Greta does. “What’s bothering you?” she seems to ask with her perked up ears and outstretched paw. “Tell me every little detail about the marketing meeting you had today and what toppings the salad guy got wrong in your lunch.” See, even Greta knows my daily grievances are worth turning the TV volume down for.

But then I see Greta cozy up to Matt on the couch, no matter what kind of day she’s had, and I realize there are perhaps a few things I can learn from the dog too.

Seems you can teach an old partner new tricks.