Jake and I are spending the night alone together for the first time tonight.
Since I arrived, we've taken walks down to the marina, lounged on the deck (I read, he napped) and shared food. There's so much to like about his temperament - alert, energetic, fast, powerful, steady and stubborn - and personality, which is happy, loving, intelligent, cheerful and affectionate.
And don't get me started on how lean and in shape he is for a male his age.
Granted, these are also the characteristics of a Weimaraner, which Jake happens to be, but coincidentally, they're the same qualities of Jake's Dad, who is most definitely human.
And lest it sound like I'm lusting after Jake's Dad, I should make it clear that I first fell in love with Jake's Mom on a boat two summers ago.
Since then, I've become friends and devoted fans of both Jake's parents, resulting in visits to their river cottage, multiple trips to eat on the deck of the Crazy Crab and my first, second and third adventures in sailing.
Jake's Dad recently told me he finds me "easy to have around," a wonderful compliment considering I'm really just a fifth wheel to their two-part love story.
And a truly magnificent love story at that.
This is a couple who dated for years, then went their separate ways (a period he refers to as "the terrible awful") only to reunite three and a half years later, marry and live happily ever after.
I learned the basics of how they got from point A to point B early on in our friendship, mostly from the kind of deep conversations women have when they spend hours together at the water, but with occasional input from him when we were all three hanging out.
But it was only recently that I got to read it in his own words from an old email his wife brought up in conversation. I was blown away by his candor and reflection after reading it.
In a missive to a friend seeking marital advice, Jake's Dad laid bare his journey to winning back the woman he loved.
If you have any chance of being the love of her life, you will need to change. That can't happen in a few days. It takes time and a lot of soul searching. I went through something very similar with C. I didn't think we would ever get back together. We gave each other space and time. We dated other people. We stayed friends. Most of all, I grew to understand that I wasn't the guy that she needed.
Just from that much, I think Jake's Dad deserves some sort of man medal for self-awareness, but he took it even further.
My dog died. My mother died. My father developed Alzheimer's. Somehow, and I can't quite explain it, maybe I was humbled by life's experiences, but I came out of all that ready to love and adore C. in the ways that she needs. I'm that guy now.
Here's where he brings it all home with a fatal dose of humor and experience.
I hope your dog doesn't die. I hope you don't lose your Mom. I hope S. stays healthy. BUT, I hope you hear the beautiful, righteous sound that I heard that changed me forever.
That sound was the loud POP when my head came out of my ass. Good luck.
I ask you, does Jake have a brilliant and hilarious Dad or what? So when the happy couple headed out of town and needed a companion for Jake, I was more than happy to roost at the river with him.
Despite the return of this crazy heat everyone's whining about today, having a bright blue river off the back porch makes it completely tolerable. Better still, it hasn't stopped Jake from running or me from walking.
Dinner was eaten at the end of the dock, my legs hanging over water as smooth as glass and completely unlike the choppy whitecaps of our most recent sail. I sat there with the sun on my back and a half moon already visible in the sky while Jake investigated our environs and asked for bites.
Afterwards, we walked to Lover's Lane together, with Jake taking the lead, being the male that he is. Neighbors spotted us and pulled over in their truck to investigate the strange woman walking with the familiar dog. I assured Gail and Freddie that I was just a temporary substitute for Mom and Dad.
Besides Jake's abundant charms, part of the appeal of being down here, far from the city and its attendant light pollution, is the Perseid meteor showers, so I used the early part of the night to read on the porch before dousing the lights and setting up camp outside in hopes of seeing cosmic debris.
Because, where better?
So far, Jake seems content to keep me company out here under the stars for as long as it takes. It's almost like he knows what I want and he's giving it to me.
Around here, that usually occurs after a loud, righteous POP.