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Essay: Being a Dog

When I was about eight years old, I decided I wanted to be a dog instead of a little girl.  I announced this to my parents and my father said, “Good for you.  That sounds interesting.”

So I started crawling around the house on my hands and knees, barking and growling and whining for treats. Climbing up the stairs, down the stairs.  Curling up on the register in the corner next to the piano, feeling the heat come up from the basement furnace, feeling cozy.

My wish to be a dog did not extend to dog food, but my mother willingly put human food in a bowl on the floor—and I tried to eat dry cereal or apple slices or pieces of hamburger without my hands. To drink milk without a glass.

The whole thing was awkward and silly, of course, but I loved it.  And I learned that the hardest part wasn’t even crawling around on my hands and knees.  It was not talking.  So finally, I decided to be a little girl again.

Looking back now, what touches me most is how my parents took this all in stride, never questioning my need to be a dog, to be a child.