Lesson #2: If you want your hand to be licked, you might have to put it under somebody's nose.
Another place Dante and I spend a great deal of time together is the car. I put on about forty thousand miles a year, and for most of those, he is with me. He rides in the backseat of my Toyota Forerunner, with the luggage stuffed down on the floor in front of the backseat, so that he can lay across it and put his head and shoulders between the bucket seats in the front.
Sometimes he rests his heavy chin on my shoulder and looks out the windshield with me, and that is as close to heaven as anything I know. Other times I'll put my arm in the backseat and he'll lick it
I've never been very good at asking anybody for anything. In fact, I'm one of those people who has taken self-sufficiency to some kind of outrageous extreme. This is a great tactic when you are trying to survive an abusive childhood, but not so great when you are contemplating marriage to a kind and loving man.
Dante attends to me in ways I've only recently gotten used to. When I'm sad, he'll lay in bed and press his big black nose flaps against my cheek, and stare calm and goodness into my eyes. If he thinks I need to be playful, he'll go outside and do his happy dance all over the lawn. If I need to get work done, he'll curl up on the couch and not disturb me. When we are in the same room together and both awake, his eyes never leave my face.
We are codependent, you are thinking, and you're right, but in all the best ways, and with none of the consequences. I almost just wrote Dante was the first person I relied upon other than myself. But that's only half of the story. What happened next asked me to be equally reliable in turn.