As I walk into my living room, my dog Sammie lifts her head at the sound of my approaching footsteps. My eyes meet her sleepy round ones, full of—as I believe—the secrets to world peace and of the universe. As I gaze into her sweet chocolate eyes, I notice the slight wag of her perfectly curly pug tail. I am overwhelmed by a sudden intense urge to scream at my fur baby girl.
I realize that sounds totally uncalled for, but this is where I introduce the concept of “cute aggression.” I have become very familiar with this idea ever since adopting Sammie. Cute aggression is the feeling you get when something or someone is so cute that you just want to squeeze them or, as some say, “eat them up.” Now, I obviously have no intention of hurting the adorable creature I love so much; even the idea of accidentally stepping on Sammie’s paw knots my stomach and makes my chest feel heavy. In fact, the experience of having such cuteness in my life is so beautiful and so heartwarming that it literally causes me physical pain.
I honestly have no idea if feeling pain is an inherent part of experiencing cute aggression, or if it is just a bonus comorbidity that I have been blessed with. I am not even being dramatic when I say that looking at my dog causes me to feel like my heart is exploding. It feels like someone has clasped my heart between their two hands and is squeezing so tight that it completely bursts open (my apologies for the graphic image).
While I may experience painfully intense emotions when looking at something cute, I am so grateful for how much I get to feel on a daily basis. I love how I gasp when I find gorgeous blackberries at the supermarket. I revel in the joy I get from ordering an iced matcha with oat milk and raspberry syrup on the sunshiniest days. I live for the feeling evoked by nearly every item at Trader Joe’s, or how I full-on squealed when I found a BABY PINK Trader Joe’s employee tee while thrifting. The list goes on and on, but basically I have no chill about anything, especially when it comes to any of the finer things or simple pleasures in life. I know those categories cover a lot of territory. Anything aesthetically pleasing, evocative of warm and fuzzy feelings, or designed for any sort of human enjoyment, I am all over. I am not only obsessed with cuteness, but aggressively obsessed with all the many joys of life.
I owe Sammie an abundance of gratitude for my passionately positive attitude. She is—and always will be—my most extreme obsession, and if you saw her face you would immediately understand why. I have always been rather chipper, but it was not until Sammie came home to me that I knew feelings could be this intense. I have wanted a dog ever since I could spell the word. Sammie being the embodiment of all my hopes and dreams, coupled with her perfectly smushed face, means that she was always destined to be the center of my universe. Plus, as silly as this may sound, I think the fact that she does not speak any human language adds to my mental image of her as the epitome of absolute goodness, kind of like a newborn baby untainted by the world.
But it would be totally untrue for me to claim I love Sammie for being untainted by the world, because she certainly has been. My heart shatters into a million pieces thinking about all of the possible places her scars may have come from. There exists no worse feeling than seeing the look of utter terror in her eyes when she used to cower on reflex, tail between legs, when someone would lift a hand to pet her. While she does not do this anymore, it took several years for her to trust us enough to unravel these long-reinforced instincts developed from god-knows-what evils she faced.
If anything, though, watching her learn to trust me healed both of our souls forever. I now understand the preciousness of life in a way I never had before. When I look at Sammie curled up in a little ball on the couch, I have no choice but to scream in her face. I mean, just look at her face! I simply want to inhale her wheaty fragrance. If you do not have any pets, I am sure you are ready to call the local psych ward on me. I assure you though, both my parents are therapists, and they are only moderately concerned about my Sammie obsession. This is probably because they are obsessed, too.
While my parents and I experience cute aggression to vastly different degrees, we all scream for joy at the sight of our baby girl. Not only has watching her heal from her past trauma bonded us, but Sammie healing me from my own various insecurities and struggles has made me love her in a way so intense I cannot handle it. She and I are really the embodiment of the question “who rescued whom?” The combination of her already perfect cuteness and the way I associate her with everything that is good in the world causes an overload in my brain that causes aggressive enthusiasm every time I see her. While to a slightly lesser degree, my matcha drinks, my novelty thrift finds, and all things pretty and nice also cause me to shriek with excitement at just the thought of how much happiness they bring me. I want to treasure all beautiful things in this world and scream from the rooftops about the joy they bring me.
I get overwhelmed constantly by the fervor I feel, but what would my life be without it? Trying to imagine what that would be like has me feeling depleted of emotion; for the longest time such intensity is all I have ever known. My case of cute aggression may be rather acute, but I could not be tepid when looking at my dog even if I tried.