There’s a love-hate thing at my house with online shopping.

It’s not the shopping that I enjoy; it’s getting boxes in the mail.

As a child, I had pen pals and getting a letter from one of them was the highlight of my day. As a teen, I had a little spending money and, longing for life in a bigger city, I often ordered T-shirts from the back of Rolling Stone magazine.

Some things have changed.

Now I understand how important it is to support local businesses and I’m not as interested in material things as I used to be.

Since the pandemic hit, though, I’ve been holed up in my little cottage, unable and perhaps even more unwilling to go out to shop for my needs. Therefore, I’ve allowed by retail therapy to blossom online.

I routinely order groceries online and have them delivered. I have ordered toiletries and cleaning supplies, books, living room curtains and bed sheets. Each time I received the box, it was exciting. Not as exciting as it was when I was 17 and opening my Led Zeppelin T-shirt from some exotic locale (like New York or Chicago). But still, getting things I need to survive the pandemic is exciting. It gives me hope and it says, “You can do this.”

Mostly, I’m grateful to be in a position to afford to have delivered what I need. I’m grateful to be earning a living, have a secure home, internet service, pets and friends with whom I communicate and from whom I receive support.

There’s somebody picking up the slack in the excitement department.

My dog, Freddie.

Anything I bring into the house stirs his interest.

You know that vibe a dog gives off when he’s really excited? He shakes just a little while he sniffs intently and, perhaps, whines? That’s it.

I sit down to open a box of, say, toothpaste, kitchen sponges and some kind of cleaning solution. From the way Freddie acts, you’d think it was a box of pig’s feet. He gets right up in the action, sniffing and whining and wagging his tail as though he expects to see a new toy or even one of his friends who hadn’t visited in a while.

I feel sorry for him because I know he doesn’t want what’s in there. What need does a dog have of a bottle of Mr. Clean?

I feel bad that there wasn’t a toy for him, waiting for its head to be ripped off or its eyes to be chewed off. Or even better, a toy that doesn’t have a head or eyes: the precious tennis ball.

As much time as I have spent with dogs, I still don’t always understand their minds. Maybe the excitement Freddie enjoys when a new box comes to the house is all he needs from that particular shipment, or maybe my next order, wherever it’s from, will include a dog toy, just so he can be rewarded for his enthusiasm.

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