The Gospel According to Tandy: 10 Lessons I’ve Learned from my Dog

Lesson One: You watch me poop, I watch you poop

I have the habit of leaving the door open when I go to the bathroom. I think it developed from years of living alone and not having to shield my urination from any wandering eyes. Living alone is great for reasons like having zero discretion when it comes to bodily functions. I don’t have to hide my farts or burps, nor do I have to make any excuses for a prolonged stay in the “Little Girl’s Room.”

Whatever comes out, comes out, whenever it so chooses. No need for closed doors or spritzes of Glade. Man, sometimes being single is great…

Then, I got a dog and started to notice the furry voyeur that stood sentinel while I took a…. Well, you know.


By now, many of my readers have met or heard of said mutt: Tandy, my gorgeous, kind, loving, and goofy collie/shepherd rescue. She was named after the Sherwood Anderson short story named “Tandy” about a stranger who has not found his thing to love. (Something I’ve discussed in previous posts like 2015’s LOVE WINS.)

Through the past (almost) 2 years, Tandy has done more than just live up to her name (becoming my thing to love and teaching me to be brave and courageous). The purpose of her original purchase was to protect me on long runs in the city and guard my 1 bedroom apartment. And yet, she’s done so much more. She’s had the responsibility of saving me when I was lost in seas of depression and self-hatred. She gave me reasons to come home, exercise, laugh, and love. And, though she has never mastered running, she has brought me towards health – mentally and emotionally. Tasks not easily accomplished by a non-Phd. Not to mention, one without opposable thumbs.

Today, was no different and her message was very clear.

I awoke today a hormonal, stressed out mess. The makeup I swore I took off last night rimming my eyes like a raccoon. Cramps and sore breasts aching from PMS. The laundry list of things I HAVE to do scanning through my brain like the opening credits to Star Wars.

There was the menu I wanted to plan for the upcoming weeks – the move towards “Clean eating” insisting on its importance, the budget I still haven’t sat down to figure out, the class that may be canceled due to low enrollment, the novel I hadn’t looked at (written, edited, researched) in almost a month, the play I am to direct next month that I haven’t quite “got”  yet, the body that continues to break down like an 80 year-old ex-vet (getting ever softer, ever inflexible, ever sore), the stamps I keep forgetting to buy… So on and so forth, the list rolls ever on.

I did a short workout, the first in a month, lashing out at myself for my inability to hold a plank for longer than 20 seconds, the fact that I had to guard my wrist and protect it like a baby bird. Showered. Then sat down to do my “morning pages,” a daily journal entry consisting of 3 pages of whatever comes out of me. Some days it’s moaning and complaining, other times it’s flash poetry. Today was the former.

The words poured out of me, the slashing tongue made tangible in ink and paper. My specific fears are something I would like to keep relatively private, for I feel that tomorrow I will see them in a different light. I can simply say this: Sometimes I fear that I have become a jack of all trades, a master of none and this plays on both my obsession for perfection and grueling work brought on by my Eastern European heritage, not to mention my habitual impatience.

Feeling broken down, I crawled into bed where Tandy was sleeping and cried into her fur. She lifted her head once, kissed me on the cheek, then laid back down, permitting me the emotion that flooded out of giving my fears a voice.

Once the tears subsided, I thought of reaching out. I didn’t want to “bother” anyone… Didn’t want to call someone at work or send a text and upset their day. Didn’t want to beleaguer anyone with the feelings I knew would be diminished come the Tuesday sunrise.

And, yet, I thought about Tandy and pooping. (Stay with me here.) I always chastised her for peeking in on me when I went to the bathroom, but I never realized that I did the same thing. On any one of our five daily walks, you can find me following Tandy with a brightly colored plastic bag, ready to clean up her mess. Why should she not do the same for me?

Is that not what love is? Supporting each other through the most embarrassing moments, being a shoulder (or fur) to cry on, answering a text or call when it’s inconvenient for you just to make someone’s life a little more peaceful? Would I not do that for any one of my friends if they were to call/text/e-mail right now?

Relationships are give and take, they’re loving and letting yourself be loved, asking for help and being the help. Trusting in the friendship and love that you’ve built is not just about being there for them when they need you, but also letting yourself be seen at your worst.

So, I sent the e-mail and my best friend replied, showing her depth of knowledge in who I am and what I am capable of. Knowledge that is sometimes difficult for ourselves to see, because Fear can speak so loudly.

A friendship is a celebration of who we are as individuals and as a team – poop and all.




9 thoughts on “The Gospel According to Tandy: 10 Lessons I’ve Learned from my Dog

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