Your Next Dog

You’ll love her, but you’ll love her differently.

Hanna Brooks Olsen

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Photo by Partha Narasimhan on Unsplash

I don’t remember the first time I heard the phrase “heart dog,” but I’m reasonably sure I rumpled my entire face into my skull so hard that a person standing behind me could have seen the revulsion. There are some words and phrases that I just do not like. They’re cloying and saccharine. I also put “making love” (barf) and “dog mom” in this category. Which surprises people because I am a person who has had a number of dogs over the years, however (and this may come as a surprise), I never gave birth to any of them.

Which doesn’t mean the only valid moms are the ones who give birth — that’s just not true—it just means that I find it a bit paternalistic. I usually think of my dogs as my roommates. I guess I’m just not a romantic type of person.

So I bristle at the phrase “heart dog,” — which is, for the uninitiated— the dog that a person has in their care who officially makes them a Dog Carer. It’s the dog that rearranges the parts of you into a better, more loving, more tender human. It’s the dog who is Your Dog and whose loss feels like the loss of a limb or an organ.

But I don’t know how else you talk about that dog. For the life of me, I’ve never come up with a more succinct term, which is weird because I’ve thought about it a lot and like, coming up with words to describe things is literally my only marketable skill. And I had a “heart dog,” I guess, in that I had a little soulmate for the most critical years of my young adult life.

Indiana was the best creature, my support system, and my favorite of everything — favorite sight, favorite smell, favorite thing to touch, favorite thing to hear snoring as we went to bed in our shitty Ikea bed in our shitty studio apartment.

Now I’m in my middle (almost late) 30s and I have a new dog in my life again. And I don’t know what I was expecting — I loved Lola, the new one, from the minute I saw her, but I am also keenly aware that I love her differently. It’s an acute difference, like…

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Hanna Brooks Olsen

I wrote that one thing you didn’t really agree with.