I’m not sure about where a cold ends and the flu begins, but there’s a pretty bright line when I stop making dinner and take to bed. My husband and kids were on their own for parts of this week while I’ve been in an altered state.

It’s a great time to have a dog. Even our new, bad dog Gizmo.

As Maira Kalman says about the title dog of my favorite of her books, What Pete Ate From A – Z, our Gizmo is “a good dog. A very good dog. But sometimes he is not so good. He eats what he should not.”

It’s charming as an alphabet book. Maybe less cute to be the subject of so much involuntary de-cluttering. I throw out mangled toys and stuffies, chewed up earphones, chargers, ripped apart balls and discombobulated pom poms. The kids’ underwear. That plastic thing we hoped we’d remember what it was a cap or foot for.

Of course, aside from unnecessary plastic objects, what Gizmo craves is human connection. Unlike our old sweet Finn, who enjoys being in your vicinity in case of food spills, Gizmo will steal your lunch, but also sit with you just to enjoy gazing into your eyes. That’s good medicine.

It’s a bit of a shock, when you slow down and are doing really nothing much, to see that this other being is focused on you all the time, even when you’re ignoring him. Going to make tea? Checking outside? Walking to the bathroom? I’ll come with you, his twinkly black eyes assure you.

That looks fun! Anything for me?

Two things happened this week that have been a mini bad-dog miracle. One is that the depths of being sick convinced me to spring for a dogwalker to help get this little bundle some exercise while I’m working (or this week, slugging Nyquil). Having an hour at the beach two times this week took some of his edge off.

The other thing is I found an old no-bark collar, the kind that sprays a little burst of citronella for each bark, and got a battery for it. Gizmo’s other impeachable offense has been yippy yappy protection of the yard. He greets people mostly in joy, but the sound is not beautiful, and not quiet, and not brief. My workday breaks had become focused on shutting up and calming down the dog. But this little guy is smart! Just a spritz or two, which surprised him, had immediate effect. He’s worn the collar only about half the time this week, but had 80 or 90% less barking. It never worked for my other dogs that way, but here it was an instant success. And just in time.

As my daughter tells me, we can’t really get rid of him even if he is a very bad dog. And I agree. But how much nicer if he’s actually going to be more tolerable.

It’s lovely having a dog in your lap. But when you’re sick this is even better: you get in bed, preferably in just-changed sheets (because you’re sick of being sick in bed), lay on your belly, pull the sheets and comforter up to your ears, and snuggle your face into your hands like you’re so glad to see yourself. Gizmo hops up on the bed, climbs over your butt, and settles on the back of your upper thighs. This is exactly the mirror of your lap if you were sitting down, and somehow that 12 pounds gives you just the extra weight, just the bit of warmth, that convinces you life is worth it. Let’s stay put for this. Every moment of it.