Taking care of someone who's taking care of you

Today, I have to give up a poodle. She doesn’t really belong to me, but the past two weeks I have taken care of her, and she’s taken care of me. 

She’s my mother-in-law’s dog, and while my mother-in-law has been out of town, she left us with her beloved dog, Serene. Noticed I said she left “us” the dog, but what I secretly meant was me. The fact of the matter is Serene follows me and no one else around the house. If I even get up from my desk to get a glass of water, she lifts up her head (she is always just a few feet away) and watches. If I don’t come back from the kitchen within half a minute, she gets up and finds me. I have a companion with me everywhere I go—garage, garden, bathroom—and I know I probably shouldn’t like it, but I do. Someone wants to be around me 24 hours a day? I’ll take it.

This isn’t the first time Serene has been dropped off, but it’s usually for a few hours, or just an overnight. The few times we get her for a week or two, the same thing happens: by week two, I am totally and utterly smitten. It’s not that I don’t like her the rest of the times—I do—but when she is around me longer, we bond. Inevitably, it becomes hard to give her back.

Why do we become so attached to animals? What is it about being noticed that tugs at our hearts so much? 

Luckily for Serene, my mother-in-law adores her, and Serene loves her more than she loves me. I’m okay with that, but until my mother-in-law shows up, I’m gonna pretend Serene loves me more than anyone else in the world.