This morning’s news was filled with the guilty plea of the NFL quarterback who has been accused of dog crimes. I’m not sure why these stories still shock me, but they do. This one is shocking on two levels: how can anyone living in America think it would be okay with the public to have dog fights? And even more disturbing who finds pleasure in such an activity? Ugh.
So, in an effort to put a more positive emotion into the world, let me tell you a good dog story.
It seems that Jack, my stunningly gorgeous, high-strung chow mix, gets a lot of attention in here. I do have another dog. In fact, I’ve had Sasha a VERY long time–she’s 14 years old (and going strong), and as parents will, I suddenly felt guilty that I never talk about her. So, please meet Sasha. Aka Splinter (from the Ninja Turtles, remember him?). She’s a mid-size terrier mix, as you can plainly see. When I first discovered her, sitting on a very hot sidewalk outside Safeway on my way to a critique group meeting, she looked like a German shepherd mix, and really reminded me of a dog we had when I was a child, so feeling tugged, I bent down and picked her up, just to give the wee little thing some love. She took a big breath, put her head on my shoulder and sighed against my neck. I was gone.
Now, let me say I already had a great dog, the late great April O’Neal, not to mention two boys in grade school, thirty-nine jillion of their friends running through my house constantly, deadlines, a husband who would not be pleased, a salamander and a tank full of goldfish. I needed one more thing to take care of like I needed to lose a couple of fingers.
But that weekday morning, with that tiny puppy on my shoulder, with a man telling me he had cancer and had to get chemo and had to give away the puppies (yeah, yeah, yeah, buddy), all I knew was that this
dog was mine. She was born into the world to be my companion and I was taking her home, no matter what.
At times, that no matter what has been….er…somewhat trying. Like the time she ate a clutch of my ex-husband’s photos, thus sealing a mutual hatred that never flagged. (Notice: the dog outlasted the husband.) Like the fact that she has never, no matter what I’ve tried, overcome a proclivity for knocking over the trash. Or stealing things off counters, and then perfuming the tri-state area with the resulting gas. Like the fact that she and the ex really did have a war that lasted nearly a decade. They lived to make each other miserable.
She lives for food. Broccoli will do. Cauliflower is just grand. Turkey, chicken, meat, milk spilled on the floor, drops of coffee on your fingers. She recently took one of my (brand new!) placemats from the table and ate one side of it. It must have smelled of something good. She’s never learned to take a treat gently, either. She snaps it sharply, every muscle in her body quivering.
Oh, and she’s a barker, too. Did I mention that? She barks at anyone who walks by the house. Barks when I open the front door, at the dog on the other side of the fence (her soul mate–her master is out there calling, exasperatedly, "Kelly! Kelly, come here!" and I’m calling, "Sasha. Sasha come here…!" as they bark wildly at each other, up and down the fence. But I have a magic weapon: "Sasha! Cauliflower.") When I take her for walks, she barks wildly for the first two minutes. I have never understood if she’s just announcing to the neighborhood that she’s coming or she’s just chattering like a teenage girl, but after a couple of minutes, she settles down and just walks.
She’s scruffy and adorable and devoted. She’s never met anyone (save the ex) she didn’t love, and old
ladies are her special favorites. They like her, too, like to pet her and feed her and tell her how sweet she is. She will, very delicately, kiss a nose with her tiny, thin, very undoglike tongue. She loves to be hugged.
And she has been my constant companion, devoted, protective of my children and the cats and me. She makes me laugh. Her simple, clear motives in life are a reminder not to take anything too seriously. Life is about seeing what’s going one, having snacks, getting kisses, going for walks, having snacks, stealing the big dog bed, and having snacks. Oh, and greeting Christopher Robin when he comes home from work. She sits down, shivering in happy anticipation, and waits for him to bend down and kiss her. Which he does, every day.
Now that’s a happy ending.