Annie is my six-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi. She likes my reading chair and jumps into my place the moment I get up for something. When I return, we engage in a scootch-over tango so we can both fit in the chair. Webster, my Cardigan Welsh Corgi, doesn’t care about the chair, yet he knows about the power of books in the house. Often we get ready for a walk, the dogs hooked to their leashes, and I sit down to read a few pages in a book. “In a minute,” I say, and Webster slumps to the floor. Annie sits and patiently, steadily stares at me.
Not all dogs are patient with reading habits. I house-sat for friends in Chicago who owned a Dalmatian named Spencer. One night he wanted me to toss the ball for him, but I wanted to stay in bed and read The Stories of John Cheever. Clearly, he was annoyed by that choice because I came home from work the next day and found Cheever chewed like a rawhide bone.
Reading resentment (or is it bibliophilia resentment?) happens. I’ve had people in my life who resented my hours of reading like Spencer, although they didn’t destroy the book. They emitted heavy, resentful sighing or made comments about books being more important than them. The habit is consuming. Corgis, though, seem to adapt fairly well. But then, they know how to jump into the chair and get right in there beside you for the reading hours. They’re smart dogs.
9/10/09 addition: Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain imparts the wisdom of a dog named Enzo. While it’s “best-seller lite” fiction, not the type of book I gravitate toward, I found it a delightful respite from my usual, more intense literature picks. Enzo observes his master weather misfortunes with a steadfast spirit. “The car goes where the eyes go” is the message. It has nothing to do with patience for those who love to read. It’s just a good dog story.