“This Dog.”

Bill says it at least once a day. On rare occasion, it’s about Happy. But usually? Usually it’s this dog.

Super close up of a dog face. Can see one of her eyes and her muzzle.

She’s ridiculous. We love her in part because of it.

For example, she’s slightly too long for the stairs in the new house. So she kind of flops up and down them. We didn’t realize it at first, we just thought she was flopping because she’s goofy and excited ALL THE TIME. But today Bill noticed that she literally can’t take the stairs one at a time, because she’s just a hair too long. So? She flops. A lot.

She also does a number of cute things to get attention. Like, say, cuddles up to me, then turns to stare at Bill in the hopes he’ll pet her too.

My knee, in jeans, next to a dog (Kiki). She has contorted herself to be lying right up against me while looking behind her to an off-camera Bill.

I mean, look at that. Just look at those eyes. She’s definitely plotting how to maximize attention for minimal effort. And it worked for her. She got to cuddle me on the floor and convinced Bill to sit down next to her and pet her a bunch. Until his leg fell asleep, at which point he got up and went to do something else.

And that moment, yesterday, is when it suddenly became crystal clear to me how Kiki perceives each of us.

I am Kiki’s security blanket.

A straight-down-the-leg shot of Kiki sleeping on my slippered foot. Literally on it.

She’s actually, for all her attitude and joy, a shockingly insecure dog. She’s kind of nervous. She doesn’t like change. She’s not a fan of new things. But if I’m around, she knows she’ll be ok, if not always happy. So, she stays near me. If I’m gone and come back, she charges up to me, ignoring all other things and people. Including Bill.

But once she’s found me and jumped on me, she often runs off to do something else. I’m necessary but not sufficient for Kiki to lead a happy life.

Know who else is necessary but not sufficient?

An attempt at a selfie with Bill. He looks good. I am mostly not in the photo.

Yup. That guy. She adores him. She doesn’t always totally trust him, and because she hasn’t spent nearly as much time around him as she has me (road trips have a way of throwing things out of balance) she doesn’t find him as reassuring. She doesn’t need to be near him like she does me.

But if he’s in the same room? She wants to be near him. She charges into situations where she’s pretty sure he’s a captive audience and insists he pet her. And will stay as long as she knows roughly where I am.

And yesterday? She was cuddled up to me until he left. As soon as he left? Well, she couldn’t leave her security blanket behind, but she also didn’t care to be right there with it/me either. Soon as Bill left, she got up and walked basically as far from me as she could. She got in her crate and completely ignored me until I left the room. And when we got downstairs?

She charged up to Bill and attempted to get him to pet her.

This damn dog loves me, but holy buckets does she LOVE Bill. It’s adorable.

Kiki falling asleep out on the deck in her happiest place. Between me and Bill.

Side note to my mother: Mom? Now I have a sense of how Daytona made you feel. If she’d been an insecure dog rather than the most confident dog in the world, this would be your life. I love you and I miss you.

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