Though my dating days are behind me, some days, I still find myself thinking, He’s just not that into you. But I’m not thinking that about Eric; I’m thinking about my dog Indiana.
In the year since Eric and I brought our puppies home, Indiana has proved to be a tough nut to crack. It’s not that I don’t love him or feel like he loves me. It’s just that we’ve never really bonded.
Indiana is just…well, he’s like so many frat guys I have known. He’s muscular and fun-loving; he hides his emotions and pretty much ignores me (and Eric) unless he wants to play. When he wants to play, he is relentless — he’s the guy texting you pictures of his dick. But when Eric and I attempt to have what we call “den time” (us + the dogs + at least one blanket), Indiana sits with us for a second, and then rolls his eyes, goes and sits on the other side of the couch, and gives us this look that says, “Dude, I’m not gay, bro.” Most days, he’ll let us scratch him behind the ears for a second and then he gets really uncomfortable and then pulls that neck-crinkling move that one would expect from a teenage boy whose mom tried to just tried to wipe a little something off his face.
I love Indiana but I feel like he’s always telling me that he likes me, he just needs some space.
So last weekend, Eric and I had crappy oh-fuck-we-love-each-other-but-we-just-have-different-goals-for-ourselves arguments. Nothing to worry about, but it wasn’t fun, and we were both frustrated and upset when we went to lay in bed after not really reaching a resolution. Usually at this point in an argument, whichever one of us is more upset will go and get Chuck, because Chuck is happy to let you hold him when you feel shitty. But on Friday night, for whatever reason, Eric brought both dogs in to our room for some den time.
While Chuck will usually do anything he can to get under the covers — and Indiana will usually run to the edge of the bed immediately, looking for an escape route — on Friday, Chuck was the one who jumped off the bed. He climbed into his travel crate, which was sitting on the floor, and we didn’t hear from him again for the rest of the night. That’s not really his style, but for once, he wanted space. And Indiana? Well, he had other plans.
He stretched out between Eric and me in bed, looking all docile and adorable. I started scratching him behind his ears and then he did something I’ve never seen before: he looked blissful and then rolled onto his side and curled up next to me in the little spoon position.
Eric and I stayed up for another hour and a half or so. I could pretty much count on one hand the number of times we’ve let our dogs sleep in bed with us, but I could see that this was going to be one of those nights. He wasn’t going anywhere. And from his body language, it was clear to both Eric and me that Indiana wasn’t interested in snuggling with us; he was interested in snuggling with me. When I got up to brush my teeth, he looked alert, waiting for me to come back. When I got back in bed, he once again assumed the little spoon position.
We turned off the lights and went to sleep; I expected he’d be gone in the morning.
But no. I actually tried to move him from the position he was occupying between Eric and me a few times, and he wasn’t having it. He kept coming back and wedging himself in next to me. When I effectively blocked him, he settled into an awkward position with his head on my hip. He looked uncomfortable but he was giving me this look of, Girl, I’m here for you.
I have no idea why he was suddenly so interested in hanging out with me and making me feel better. Eric and I were both upset, and besides, Indiana has never shown much sensitivity to human emotion. Though he typically drops his macho attitude around strangers, unfamiliar dogs, and new situations and damn near acts like a gentleman, he’s always kind of a beast to me. Could it be that I’d achieved that rom-com Holy Grail and changed him?
The next morning, Indiana refused to get out of bed until I did, so we got up…and then I just started to feel really awkward. Much like the frat guys who weren’t that into me in college, I was left wondering, So what did that all mean? Was the love and attention Indiana was giving me just a one-night stand? Did he want more? Should I ask him if he wants to go to the dog park later?
So I’ve spent this week acting awkward around Indiana. We’re all hanging out and I’m giving him sidelong glances, wondering if he’s looking at me too. Thus far, he’s not. Everything is back to how it was before. I was feeling vulnerable, he offered me love and attention, I slept with him, and now he wants nothing to do with me?
I got used by my dog, you guys.