The dog always knows when I’m feeling low.  I was in my dark place the other night, feeling lousy about life and missing New York City.  I spent the entire drive home in a cloud of gloom, and Brian instinctively knew to give me a wide berth when I arrived.

Charlie, on the other hand, padded over to me where I sat on the couch, put his front paws in my lap, and looked into my eyes.  I hesitated, then put my arms around his neck and felt slightly comforted. Charlie always knows when I need a hug, I thought.  It’s nice just sitting here in his warm, doggy glow–

“Charlie!” I said, pushing him away gently as he began to lick my face.  “Easy, boy.”  We sat in silence for a moment.  My thoughts drifted back to the miserable day I’d had, and how I sometimes felt like I didn’t belong in North Carolina.  What was I doing here any–

“Charlie!”  Now his cold nose was sliming my face.   He began licking my chin.  His breath was unappealing.  But, you know, he was trying.  I grabbed his muzzle and pushed it away again.  I wished he would sit still for a few minutes!  I just wanted to sit in peace, hugging him close, while reveling in my misery–

“CHARLIE!”  Once again he had wormed his head out of my grasp and was now licking me across the mouth.  I shoved his face to the side and the enthusiastic tongue-bath was instantly transferred to my palm.

“Charlie, I just want to sit here and relax,” I said in frustration, then gave up and started to laugh as he went back to licking my face in earnest.  His breath smelled like a rotten corn dog.  The fog began to lift, my melancholy dissipated.   Things didn’t seem so bad anymore, and I couldn’t remember why I’d been upset.  Thank goodness for dogs, sometimes.