Kintsugi Pup is learning how to be a Dog.

Not a dog. A Dog.

He didn’t come into this house and heart knowing that. While I don’t know what stories his inquisitive black eyes hold, I know he spent an awful lot of his young life in a rescue and somewhere imprinted in his dog sense of impression has to be the information that he went from living in a home to living in a shelter.

I wonder how long he wondered what happened to the people he once lived with, before he realized they weren’t coming back?

Now he’s with me. Learning what it means to be a Dog.

He’s got the play thing down pat. There are tennis balls, chew toys, and squeak toys littering my floor. Every morning he grabs his favorite stuffed friend and trots around the house, flinging it to and fro, playing fetch with himself.

He’s pretty good at being in the moment as well. When we are going for a drive he is fascinated by the sights going on outside the window. When we go for a walk, he is a joyous bundle of sniffing and prancing. When we go to the office, he knows his job is to lay quietly.

He’s already great at that built-into-their-dna dog behavior which makes their humans display a range of emotions from eye rolling, to cringing, to scolding, to terrific and well earned bouts of sign hanging dog shaming. I think (hope, beyond hope) that he has now learned the things in the kitty litter box are not toys, should never be touched, and should definitely not be used for depositing at mom’s feet as he expectantly hopes for a game of catch.

If I get up in the middle of the night, I am guaranteed to come back to the bed and find him stretched out in full occupancy of the spot I vacated. And last night I caught him standing on my desk licking the remnants from the plate of thai food I ate for dinner. At least the evidence indicates he had the good sense to only try the chili pepper before spitting it back out. I think some dogs would have just swallowed it whole.

So I would say he’s already got a lot of dog behavior figured out.

But I mean little d dog. The kinds of things our canine friends do easily and naturally.

When I say he is learning to be a Dog with a capital D, I mean he is learning to love.

He is learning that the nice, warm smelling thing that feeds him isn’t going anywhere.

He is learning that when I leave for the evening, I will come back and that he gets to cover me with kisses and enthusiastic tail thumping.

He is learning that when I leave for Hawaii for two weeks and he goes to a strange home, I will still come back and he will return to the familiarity of space, his boxes of toys, and his very tan human.

He is learning to love belly rubs, “good boys,” and making children smile with his gentle nature and soft licks.

He is learning to be kind to cats, to occasionally run around in circles in an effort to herd the household and keep an eye on his charges, and to enjoy the feel of the brush on his wiry fur, as his eye close in content and he realizes being cared for feels wonderful.

He is learning that when his tan, kind human has a stomach ache, his job is to drop the toy he is chewing, hop up on the bed and curl up beside her. A warm tiny ball of care that settles itself into the nook of her belly.

That was the first night he slept right beside me, all mashed up by my face every time I rolled over, instead of down lower on the bed like he usually does.

You see, any dog can be a lowercase d dog. But dog’s are here on earth for a journey, just like us. They come with all the ingredients of flawless unconditional love placed on their heart, and their task is to fully embody that love. To really learn how to take those ingredients and make them into something beautiful.

To become a capital D Dog.

We have the same task by the way. It’s just that Dog’s get it much sooner, so they don’t need as much time as we do. This is why they have shorter lives. We usually get longer, because it takes us a long time to figure out what they already know.

Snow is falling outside my window and Kintsugi Pup is quietly curled into a little ball on his blankie by my feet as I write. A month ago, he would always go lay down in the bedroom while I was in my office, even though I placed a soft blanket on the floor by my desk. He preferred the soft bed I suppose and didn’t feel a particular need to be beside me.

But like I said, he is learning to become a Dog.

And Dog’s don’t go back to the bed when their human is in another room. They would rather be beside them. That’s just what you do when you realize you love someone.

You want to be beside them.