How To Define My Perfect Man

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He is mysterious, dark and handsome.  What a cliché-but true.  He is athletic, funny, intelligent and empathetic. In fact, I catch him looking at me adoringly, yet ever so aloof and independent.  Those are the qualities I adore the most.  When I am sad, he intuitively knows to comfort me and provide emotional strength and companionship.  When I am sick, he keeps his distance, yet won’t leave my side. How am I lucky enough to have found the perfect man-may I introduce you to my very handsome Scottish Terrier, Winston.  Winston embodies everything in my ideal, and requires just two meals a day and three walks.

I honestly believe that Winston can be partially credited with my recovery, optimism and smile. His dedication to me is quite epic, and he is there, never holding a grudge or expressing a harsh word. The void a pet, my pet, fills is magnificent and if we examine the place they hold after loss, we will find a very healthy and stalwart friend.

I have often mentioned how Winston is my companion. We wake early together, simultaneously stretch, look each other in the eye and smile.  He smiles distinctly with his expressive brown eyes and looks directly into mine.  After his ravenous turn at breakfast, we saddle up and head to Riverside Park.  I have been walking him there, meeting my friends in the morning, whether it is brutally cold or unforgivingly hot for his entire New York City existence. We get in our ten thousand steps, about a half hour of fetch and ten mini biscuits. Winston tracks and chases squirrels and meets and greets any dog that will allow the dance of sniffing.

Two hours later, around nine-nine thirty am, we return home. He is the last thing I see as I close my eyes at night, and the first thing I see in the morning light. It is no secret, but an admission, that Winston sleeps in my bed and has since he was twelve weeks old. For the duration of Michael’s illness, he lay next to him, protecting him from the ultimate intruder. The intrude eventually appeared and took away his charge. Today, he settles into that side of the bed, head most often on the pillow, master of the house.

I frequently comment to people who stop us on the street, approximately three times a day, that not only is he extraordinarily handsome, he is a really good boy. He is a wonderful listener and reacts with pure joy at the sight of my return home. Winston’s main goal is to protect me. Although I am sure he considers me his “mother,” he spends most of his day being sure that I am safe. Safety is expressed with low growls at anyone at the door, small children with abrupt movements and random people on the street that violate his, or my personal space.

He has listened to more rants, more funny commentary and absorbed more tears spilled on his coat than the best of human shoulders. My boy comes to my rescue when I curse and is helpful when there is a suspicious noise or loud clap of thunder.

Interestingly, he is often the center of attention in my relationships.  Knowing that the way to my heart is to win my daughter, my dog and my family, men are very reactive. They buy him toys, offer to walk him on cold or rainy nights, knowing full well I will seldom pass on the responsibility.  They try to engage him in fetch, and are quick to offer him a front seat in their luxury cars with nose prints on the window. Relationships that change are kept alive with a, “I just want to see Winston,” comment. I used to think it was a clever ruse, but maybe his effect on them lingers longer than mine.

He is a legend in his own right. The days he is off to the groomers are lonely, and a few days without him when he is in my daughter’s care are strange. With his aloofness, Winston provides the perfect combination of companionship and independence. It has been commented that we are similar, whether to take that as a compliment or not is my choice. I do.

My commitment to Winston is unwavering. Loyalty deserves loyalty. Since my relationship has developed with someone, a human, I am starting to trust a bit more. I trust that no one is really trying to deliberately hurt me, I can find love that is pure and good, and that there is room for more. The lessons I have learned from my little beast are life lessons. Winston comes first in daily life. However, I still travel and socialize, understanding we both need boundaries. Sometimes it is difficult, but love can be difficult.  Commenting to some that he and I have a bit of an unnatural relationship, it is that relationship that has consistently allowed me to care, to love, to appreciate and to give. My handsome and athletic dog is forever a source of amusement, pleasure and fulfillment. His love is true and pure and appreciative. Living in his world, where goodness is wrapped in simple pleasures, is healthy and sweet.  I owe you Winston-Big.



  • Susan Warner

    I am an educator, wife and mother. My journey is a perfect example of life’s contradictions. A storybook marriage of 38 years and two magnificent children, I existed in the comfort of an extraordinary cocoon of family and friends. Enter the devastating suicide of my 32-year-old son and then the subsequent death of my husband 6 months later of a virulent cancer in an eight-week diagnosis to death, my story is of acceptance, pushing on and not being defined by social emotional norms. I am living my best life, making choices that define my “right turn” after my catastrophic loss, and characterizing a journey to self-actualization and a commitment to help others who have experienced loss. Rediscovering who I am, what lies ahead and the adventure at hand.

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