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December 22, 2017

Your Favorite Couch

There is a surreal quality to the experience of opening your front door to discover your dog amidst a sea of stuffing. You stare in disbelief at the swatch of leather from your favorite couch hanging from his mouth.
21-1.jpg There is a surreal quality to the experience of opening your front door to discover your dog amidst a sea of stuffing. You stare in disbelief at the swatch of leather from your favorite couch hanging from his mouth. This tableau of your dog frozen in fluffy whiteness would look wonderful in a snow globe. But this is not a snow globe. It is your favorite couch. Was your favorite couch. You lock eyes with the pup, who despite the overwhelming evidence, pleads innocence. You are not feeling merciful at the moment. You’re not proud of the sound you make – wailing, incoherent, off-key and guttural – but you make it. Photo Sep 20, 4 19 55 PM.jpg Your dog flees as you stomp toward him shouting colorful invective. He cowers but you are unmoved. You begin by lying to yourself. It can be fixed! If you just move this cushion here, put a blanket over there and everyone sits on the couch blindfolded, no one will ever know. Eventually, while trying to staple two pieces of leather back together, you accept it is hopeless. You give a rueful laugh. What else is there to do? The familiar sound elicits a nearly imperceptible tail wag from your dog. It’s a flick of the tip anybody else would miss. But you know him better than he knows himself, so you perceive it perfectly 21-2.jpg “Oh no, you are still in deep trouble!” you remind him. He shamefully ducks his head as you grumble the rest of the lecture under your breath. “I paid a lot of money for that couch. I carried that heavy thing up and down flights of stairs through two moves, nearly killed myself to get it through the door of the apartment and you just ripped it to shreds.” You trudge past your deflated pup to survey the situation anew and realize it is worse than you thought. When cleaning the maelstrom you assumed he destroyed one couch, but in fact he’d sampled both of them. The one is beyond salvageable, but a couple of its ripped cushions and scarred parts can be used to patch the other. 15-8.jpg Even Victor Frankenstein would consider the result of your surgery unholy, but hey, at least you have a place to sit. So you do. It’s uneven and lumpy but you’re too tired to care. You feel your dog looking at you before you see him. You lift your head to meet his eyes but you already know what you’ll see there. Fear. Dogs are creatures of this moment, all consumed by the present. His is an all-consuming fear. Will he have to spend the rest of his life cowering in your presence, without your love, because of a couch? 2.JPG Of course not. But he doesn’t know that. You do. Despite the overwhelming evidence, your dog was right – he’s innocent. So you laugh. A real one. That sets his tail wagging wildly because he knows you just as well as you know him. And in knowing you better than you know yourself, he’s shown you places in your heart you never would have discovered otherwise. You remember your mother once saying, “I always wanted a white couch, but I decided to have children instead.” You laughed at the joke then, but only now begin to appreciate its truth. You choose the neat, clean comfort of things, or you choose the mess that is love. You choose the mess. Or maybe the dog chooses it for you. It doesn’t really matter though because you share the love. 20.9.jpg You call to your dog and he jumps into your arms, sinking you both in the dilapidated cushions. He licks you and paws you and smothers you in unencumbered delight at the reprieve. That was a bulky couch, you think, cradling your dog in your arms. Much too big for the space anyway. You retrieve treats from the cabinet and give him one. Then another. After all, he was magnanimous about accepting your apology. Out of habit, you move your “favorite” couch with you to a new apartment. It’s further dismembered when you saw off the legs to fit it into your office. It first serves as a glorified dog bed, then as a place to cry when you suddenly lose the dog who destroyed it, then as a place to reshape your arms and your heart around a new pup. x.8.jpg One day you decide it is finally time to junk the couch. There are holes in it larger than your newborn son. You haul the patchwork monstrosity down the steps one final time and heave its weight into the dumpster. You look at the couch and return to that moment. When your anger over a piece of furniture momentarily superseded your capacity for love. And when your dog absolved you of that sin. (Even if he had provoked it in the first place.) You laugh because that may be your favorite memory of the couch. Or it could be the times your wife and dog fell asleep in front of the fire on it. Or it might be the quiet Sunday mornings spent reading there with your dogs curled up next to you. dsc04494-1.jpg You realize you never really gave a damn about the couch. In fact, you can barely remember what it looks like. It was always who you were with that mattered. You never had a favorite couch. The only thing your dog destroyed that day was the idea a couch – or anything else – is worth more than love. You buy a new couch, but you don’t worry about it too much. Same goes for everything else you own. One way or another these things – favorites included – will all be forgotten. In the early darkness, before the sun rises above the lake, you load your sleigh with the things worth remembering – good people and good dogs – and head east for Christmas. A few gifts will be shared. None more important than the ones you share them with. Still, it’s easy for you to lose sight of that truth and mix up what’s important. When that happens, you reach for a snow globe on the shelves of your memory, look at the dog within, and smile. No couch is worth remembering. No love is worth forgetting. DSC09478.JPG ——– We’re on the road today and will be in NJ through next week. Safe travels and warm wishes to all. Merry Christmas!

Comments for Your Favorite Couch

  1. Shirley Andonie says:

    Merry Christmas Will, and thank you!

  2. htgerman says:

    I have a couch artist too and what you describe could just as well have been the story of my couch 🙂 You’re so right .. no couch is worth remembering, no love worth forgetting <3 Wishing you a wonderful Xmas too!

  3. Emmadog says:

    Have a safe and fun time out East. As for Penny and Zero, don’t let that mini human rip apart couches and leave you to blame! Mom has come to the same conclusions about Bailie and her habit of occasionally exploding pillows. She means no harm, they are only pillows, and if it truly is what Bailie needed to do, so be it. Stuff is stuff, lives and love are what matter! Merry Christmas!


    sweet tidings of love an hope to you and your family (2 legged and 4 legged) this holiday season – thanks for the well written reminder about what is important

  5. Tiffanie says:

    It’s always hard to read your blogs with tears in my eyes, all blurry! Thank you again for beautiful sentiments. Have a safe road trip, and a wonderful Christmas, making many new memories along the way!

  6. Piglove says:

    Snorts and rolls with piggy laughter. I’m laughing with you. Honestly I am. You see, mom/dad redid the house several years ago – the living room/kitchen/bathroom and hallway. They bought a beautiful Ernest Hemingway sofa with four awesome pillows. They were awesome too. Soft, fluffy and felt so right behind your back. Then Houdini happened. They went to work one day and came home to snow all over the front room. Houdini destroyed all of those pillows, made love nips in one of the legs of the sofa and to one of the legs of the newly installed fireplace mantle. I’ve never seen mom’s eyes glow red before. Let’s just say it doesn’t become her. She went back outside and stood for the longest time. We knew then we were in deep trouble. Then she came back in like nothing ever happened and cleaned up everything. Why? Things can be replaced she said, our love couldn’t. Just like you – she then laughed about it. Ya’ll are a lot alike. We hope you have a great Christmas our sweet friends. XOXO – Bacon

  7. Connie Taylor says:

    I still have “the” couch our dog decided to check out the inner-works. It has a slip cover on it and even though it is a bit lop-sided it brings back those memories of discovering where the “snow stuffing” came from. Have a safe travel, enjoy your family and take lots of photos of Lincoln’s and Zero’s first Christmas together. p..s. Hope you don’t get asked to many times “Are we there yet?”

  8. Sue says:

    Merry Christmas Will to you and your beautiful family. Safe travels and enjoy your time in NJ.

  9. KDKH says:

    In our home, the parrot destroys more furniture than our dogs – at least, all the wooden parts. But what can you do? Once it is done, it cannot be un-done. It is a parrot’s nature to chew. Our dogs have ruined a beautiful leather chair, but it is in their nature to dig, and the digging eventually tore through the leather. We still love them more than our furniture, though. I don’t need a home that’s beautiful; I need a home full of love. Looks like you do, too.

  10. Kismet says:

    You should be ashamed of yourself because a bird solved the problem. All you had to do was to turn the couch 180 degrees so the bad part faces the wall and nobody ever sees it.

  11. Happy Christmas as you make new meaningful memories with your family and friends and all the best for 2018.

  12. KarenS says:

    Merry Christmas and a most blessed New Years Will. Safe travels to all journeying to places far and near. Peace everyone

  13. Elyse says:

    Happy Holidays, Will, Emily, LIncoln, Penny, Zero and New Couch!

  14. coastingnz says:

    Merry Xmas and safe and happy holidays. Wishing you all good health & happiness and lots of fun adventures for 2018.

  15. I’m pretty sure the couch was asking for it. Sure it sits there all quiet when your parents are home, but when they leave it starts taunting you. Couches. Ugh. They aren’t always what they seem.

    Love and licks,

  16. R Brown says:

    Wishing each of you a very Merry Christmas! Safe travels to you. Have lots of fun celebrating with family in NJ. And may each of you have a blessed New Year!

  17. Judy Petitto says:

    All of us have been there at one time or another and pretty much went through all the same reactions and emotions.Thankfully most all of us have reached the same conclusions..its not the couch but who you share it with, the couch can be replaced,and will be forgotten but never will you forget those you shared it with.Merry Christmas and safe travels to all.

  18. dogdaz says:

    Sweet ending. Glad no dog ate the stuffing. Things are just thing. Love is what matters. Safe travels. Happy holidays.

  19. T&S says:

    Merry Christmas from our RR Team

  20. Anne says:

    Hello Will,
    This really hit home with my husband and me. In April we got an RR puppy (Bella) to add to our family, including a 1-year-old mix (Luca). Bella and Luca have been a joy to us but to our dismay, Bella has used one of our couches as a chew toy. We reacted very much like you did but your article reinforced what really matters. Now my love and appreciation for both of “kids” have grown even more.
    Have a Merry Christmas with all of your family.

  21. Joanne says:

    A very Merry to you and yours!

  22. Cynthia Marquez says:

    One of the nicest reminders of what Christmas is meant to be… thanks! (and why my friends joke that I have a packing crate blanket on my bed instead of a beautiful quilt.)

  23. He was just sitting there and the hole darn thing exploted kinda couch. Poor Zero.. He had a Penny moment. Have a fun holiday.

  24. UrbanCollieChick says:

    Wonderful priorities! Question: There appear to be three ridgebacks in the fourth pic from the top ( in addition to Doc). Am I seeing things? Who’s the third?

    Hope you had wonderful holiday season. Peace on earth!

  25. That was actually our old pal Riley she was our friend’s Vizla who would often stay with us.

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