This year, after a lot of thought, consideration, agonizing, Petfinder stalking, training book reading and general obsessing, I got a dog. Both of my cats passed away very suddenly last fall, and with Guillaume back in France for most of last winter, I got very, very lonely.
I cannot tell you how many times I google image searched “Cavalier King Charles Spaniel” during those dark days. I’ve been in love with these creatures every since I saw one at the farmer’s market and completely freaked out the owner by squealing loud enough to make passerby’s heads turn as I lunged at her dog in order to stroke his soft, shiny coat. They make me react on some kind of primeval level, to the point where I wonder if maybe I was a member of the King Charles court in a past life, where they were bred to lie across royal laps in a wriggling, warm, flea attracting dog blanket. I had the same sort of startling, squealing reaction when I interviewed Gretchen Jones last fall, and witnessed the simple joy of a besotted dog on your lap for hours at a time.
I am a cuddler, and these dogs are born for cuddling. I like to joke that if it was up to Harry, he’d just hang out in a baby sling all day long so he could nuzzle in my neck for as long as he pleased. Of course, I looked into rescue dogs. I called every Cavalier organization in North America trying to find one, but no one ever got back to me. Later after talking to breeders I discovered that these dogs are so beloved that the moment one comes up they’re basically snatched up by a member of the Cavalier devoted. After five months with Harry, I get it. He is, quite simply, the best. So sweet, polite, easy to train. So well behaved with children. Completely uninterested in my shoes (Oh thank you God of Dogs!) and happy to sleep in the small of my back as long as I like, on the rare mornings when I actually sleep in.
The very sweet lady I got him from has eight, and claims that Cavs are like potato chips; you can’t just have one. Getting him neutered was a minor tragedy because I had to come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t have Harry make a dozen more Harry juniors, my own personal Cav army. So far he knows lots of commands, can walk off leash, and will happily give me a high five. He’s easily the best thing to happen to me since meeting the other man in my life, and I’m terribly grateful every day for all the tiny, significant ways he’s made my life better, like forcing me to go for walks every day so I actually see the seasons change, encouraging me to meet and talk to most of the people in my neighborhood (most of whom die of cuteness when they see him trotting along), and take frequent cuddle breaks when I’m feeling particularly stressed.
Guillaume has been documenting our love affair since the very beginning, and finally developed a few rolls of film that capture our first year together. I thought I’d share them with you, but fair warning: you might fall in Cav love too.
I’ve become one of those people so obsessed with my dog that he has his own hashtag on Instagram. See more of my boy here.