10 January 2011

my pug may be na'vi. i may be an avatar.

When I first come home, my little pug, Daisy, is bursting to show her love for me. Her joy that I've returned. Her belief that I am worship-worthy.

It's also, by the way, entirely fine to read such emotions into a pug's whirling dervish dance. Faced with the choice that the pug is either crazy or has the ability to experience joy, I choose emotion. It makes me feel good, and isn't owning a pet about making you feel good?

{Lest you be concerned about my pet-owning abilities—let me say, that is, of course, a tongue-in-cheek question. Owning a pet is also about getting something furry to give you unconditional love so that you can make overdramatic single girl statements like, "At least Daisy loves me. Sigh."}

She channels her love, joy, and worship into running in circles around the apartment. I have hardwood floors, so part of her excitement also manifests itself as sliding into walls and the couch when she can't stop fast enough.

This teaches the lesson: joy can be so wonderful that it's painful.

That's an excellent lesson, but I'm also trying to get Daisy to learn this lesson: when I come home, it's best to show her joy by politely sitting down and shaking my hand. It's refined. A “how do you do” sort of greeting that would be appropriate for the Queen, should she ever stop by.

No, I'm not actually trying to teach her that.

I'm mostly just trying to let her know that she doesn't have to run around like grayhound when she sees me after the work day. She is not a grayhound; she is a pug with a little face that my brother says looks like Bob Newhart's face. Bob Newhart should be proud of this comparison.

The most successful tactic I've found so far of calming her down is saying, “I see you.”

It came out by accident one day as Daisy bounced into the wall while howling {something Bob Newhart would never do} and then looked up at me to make sure I was paying attention.

“I see you.”

And she stopped.

Stopped howling, stopped running, stopped sliding. She sat down.

“Oh my gosh, you're a Na'vi,” I told Daisy as I picked her up.

She tilted her head, most likely because I wasn't speaking true Na'vi to her.

“You know, like in Avatar. The direct translation of 'I love you' in Na'vi is 'I see you.'”

When I said the “I see you” thing again, Daisy licked my chin and put a paw on each shoulder. She was pug hugging me because I was speaking her language, her Na'vi language.

She hasn't had much love in her life: I'm her third owner and the people who owned her before me kept her outside. In the winter. In the Midwest.

She probably doesn't know what to do with the word “love,” then. She doesn't get the concept, but the idea of being noticed and noted and known by someone else—that makes her feel loved.

I see you.

And if I can communicate so well with her, that makes me an avatar, I guess. Probably to her, then, I look like a giant Bob Newhart.

A few of caveats about this story:
  • I have seen Avatar only once, so don't go getting any ideas that I'm one of those obsessed people who is teaching herself Na'vi. I just remember that whole “I see you” thing well because I remember thinking, 'Yes, isn't that a big part of what it means to feel loved? To believe that someone can truly see who you are, there under the layers of daily demands?' I remember liking that idea.
  • I know that animals can't understand language, nor is Daisy emotionally processing her transition to my home. She isn't thinking back on her life before and analyzing it. She isn't trying to wrap her little pug brain around the concept of love. I know that. But really, if you'd seen how she reacted when I said “I see you,” you'd wonder, too, about her Na'vi-ness. At least she isn't blue.
  • Daisy still runs around when I first come home, although her number of laps/length of howling is decidedly decreasing. I've seriously considered shouting, “I see you!” through the front door as I'm unlocking it. You know, just to prep her with calmness. But then there's the whole consideration of lying to a pug since I wouldn't really be able to see her then. And there are the neighbors to consider; being known as the girl who shouts is not the epithet I'm going for.


  1. I love imagining you as a giant Bob Newhart. :-)

  2. I MUST show Eric that his comment made it into your blog :) Ha ha haaaaaaa! Yes, Bob should be proud.



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