Because I’m spending all my time at home, my dog has relaxed into a routine of playing with his toys more frequently in the afternoon than he previously did. He will chase a ball briefly and loves to “kill” certain toys. I purchased two new ones for him and they were delivered today. Before I could even remove the tags, he stole a small fox plush with a squeaker and ran off in delight. He has been playing with it for hours now and is semi-seriously guarding it when I get near. The joy and excitement it has brought him is making me smile from ear to ear and was well worth the money spent. I also bought him a small bull plush toy and he is loving gnawing on its ears. It was hard to judge the size and feel of each toy through a computer screen, so I’m pleasantly surprised at how well they have been received. If you have a pet, what is its favorite toy?
On Sundays, I bathe and groom my dog, so today’s simple pleasure of providing relaxation for an animal fit right into my routine. My pup has hair instead of fur, so he has to be washed once a week and his coat needs a lot of TLC. After he gets a bath, I clean his eyes and ears before I brush out his hair and trim the edges. He even gets a spray of doggie cologne! In cold weather, I finish with a salve for his paws.
Since my dog has become a part of my life, my depression symptoms have become much more manageable. In particular, the ache I so often felt in my chest has disappeared. Interacting with one’s pet increases oxytocin levels and is linked with fewer depression symptoms. In both of these studies, the effects held only for women; the researchers of course did not take non-binary people like myself into account. All I know is that I am tightly bonded to my pup and that he loves a good grooming session with lots of loving touch (after his dreaded bath is finished). If you have pets, what benefits do you find you experience from your interactions with them?
For today’s simple pleasure, I stood outside and meditated on the feeling of air as it passed over my skin. Today is a rainy, cloudy day where I live, but it is the type of inclement weather that is warm as well as gray. So, the breeze felt gentle and soothing rather than chilling as it enveloped me.
I brought my dog with me on my excursion and he was less than enthusiastic. He unexpectedly leaped off the bench on which we were sitting and made a beeline for the door. I’d always fashioned myself a fair-weather outdoors-type of person, one who only finds pleasant a narrow range of air conditions, precipitation and sunlight, but, in contrast to my dog, I am a wild adventurer. There is more than the lightest of wind movements, he won’t walk. It rains, he won’t walk. It is outside of the acceptable range of indoor climate settings in the U.S. in terms of temperature or humidity, he won’t walk. It is dark outside, he won’t walk. I sometimes carry him a distance because he’ll at least walk towards home!
Given that my pup’s behavior limited my time experiencing the breeze, I also engaged my appreciation of touch by petting his freshly-washed hair, which is one of my favorite sensory experiences. It is soft and fluffy and he turns just so in order to have whichever part needs a scritch brought within my reach. I love that, barring nerve damage, our somatosensory experience is both receptive and expressive, that we can touch as well as be caressed. Although, at the end of it, all my dog wants is more food! What did you touch today that brought you enjoyment? When is the last time you enjoyed the feel of a gentle breeze against your skin?