Tara, the walking rug that keeps me company while I write, is a curious beast. Daschunds tend to be, and long-haired daschunds moreso. I've known a few in my day.
Perhaps they know, deep down, that they look kind of silly. Elongated, sausage-like and earnest. Tara is a lovely dog but ridiculous. Her hair drags grass-cuttings, twigs and all sorts of detritus through the house. She has a beard, snauser-like. Sometimes she feigns back pain to convince Christina to lift her onto the couch, sometimes she deftly leaps to the couch herself, when she thinks that no one's looking. When she's excited to see you, she'll rise to her hind feet, back pain forgotten, and try to give you a hug.
It's endearing. It's also laughable and absurd.
I find myself making fun of Tara. Not in a hurtful way. In a soft voice, usually while scratching her belly or behind her ears. I make fun of her beard, the way her butt shakes when she walks, how badly she smells. The fact that she's a bit thick. I push her away when she tries to lick me.
As long as it's with a gentle voice and looking her straight in the eyes, her feelings don't get hurt. She still tries to lick me and we get along just fine. I reconcile my affection for her with my incredulity at her silliness.
I've been a bit nicer today. More scratches behind the ear and fewer soft-spoken jibes. Her silly presence is welcome.
An email arrived this morning. It was complimentary and vague, written softly. It spoke of how they enjoyed my chapters (but never what they enjoyed about them). It ended the soft compliments with the regret that it was 'too literary' for their agency.
I suppose it's better than being 'too rubbish' or 'too vacuous'.
I could use a hug right now. No words or consolation, just a long, quiet hug.
Instead I'll scratch the belly and behind the ears of a smelly long-haired daschund who I won't even let give me a kiss.