Max does not get treats very often, but on Thursday I gave him a Thanksgiving gift that I hoped would be an emblem of my thanks for him. It was a rather big bone.
And by big bone, I mean about 12 inches long. It took Max 2 hours to finish (which is actually slower than his previous records). He scarfs down treats as if they were going to get up and walk away if he lets up for even the briefest of seconds. Max clearly enjoys treats.
Max also enjoys the handful of other people in his life that give him treats, whether that is my friends and family or neighbors whose houses we walk by. There is one neighbor in particular who always gives Max a handful of dog biscuits anytime she sees us come by. Max has even learned to stop and wait outside her house as long as I will let him, hoping she will come out.
I really appreciate her expression of care, but the first time she offered I refused. I was focused on the walk and I do try to limit the amount of treats Max eats. After walking around the block, though, I regretted turning her offer away. I know it disappointed Max, and I figure it disappointed her too.
I didn’t intend for any hurt feelings, but I naturally get into a more serious mode and forget about the value of treats and the small tokens of happiness. And it is not just with Max. I easily get bogged down with news and the weighty concerns of the world any given week. I see such importance in addressing those concerns and I find myself fairly at home in that tragic space, so that I often forget to embrace the fun, sillier side of things.
And then there is Max, munching on a bone in simple delight, and his presence teaches me to embrace the lighter side of things. He even pushes me to be content with more treats than I think are necessary.
So, now, anytime we walk by our neighbor and she offers treats, we stop. I still don’t love how many she gives, but I am thankful for her expression of light-hearted care and I am thankful for a moment of simple happiness.
And I try to remember to give Max treats on various occasions, especially since I know how much they brighten his day. He may devour them in a moment, but he shows me that even if the moment of happiness is fleeting, it is worth experiencing.
I still don’t buy into the whole “treat yourself” model of living, but Max has taught me that simple joys can make a world of difference in someone’s day and that an eager pursuit of those joys is not a bad thing. He has taught me that the weighty concerns of life are worth considering and addressing, but so are the simple pleasures.
So, thank you Max for appreciating the treats in life and teaching me, at least occasionally, to do the same. Thank you for showing me the difference simple joys can make in this world, especially in the lives of those who give and receive them.