One way to tell a happy pet home is dog snot on the passenger side car windows. When I first noticed it awhile back it brought delightful memories of Cocker’s Harry Hound and Bodhi Dog, now gone to the Rainbow Bridge. I also think of them when I listen to ‘Over the Rainbow’ by Israel Kamakaiwo’ole. When I hear that pure, sweet, kahuna voice every beloved fur mate returns: Skol, Dokka, Tappa, Fong and Tuezy.
There is something about profound grief that transcends sorrow and darkness.
“Yes to blue after trying
to separate green from yellow
and hoping that everything
will get simpler each time
you bring an idea closer
to the light which is always
changing always being
day after day
year after year
again and again
There is a light of joy which manages to enliven the day to day, with moments of beauty and passages of transience that make our lives such extraordinary and miraculous events. The poet Emily Dickinson once referred to the still point that occurred at the zenith of joy and the nadir of grief, and so it is—- a wisdom that cannot be explained because a perfect peace is so difficult to achieve for most of us.
For me that happened when Andie arrived on my doorstep and woke me up early the next morning by standing on my chest and licking my head, which reminds me; dog kiss slobber on one’s glasses is a daily event. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Andie and I delight in the seasons, because she has hunting instincts and I just so enjoy watching her. Andie’s trophies of wild plums, persimmons, apples, and now bark/twigs and occasional junk find notation in my mental book of training.
The other day she found a small yellow balloon and swallowed it before I could stop her. Naturally, I worried all day that it might cause obstruction or worse and had to discipline my tendency to overreact. I imagined a midnight trip to some fly-by-all night animal hospital where some shady veterinarian with a strange, fake, thin liped smile like Carlie Fiorina tells me that will be $4500.00 up front please and then I threaten to take cats hostage and then a black helicopter appears overhead and troopers on ropes drop down, surround us and threaten to put us where Bin Laden sleeps with the fishes. Well, you get the picture. We Irish do have that tendency to embellish. It’s genetic, not to mention that run-on sentences perfectly convey the wild imagination—run-on.
I have had to look into the eating bark business. According to Bark Busters master trainer, Justin Scher, Andie may be bored and by extension suffers some existential version of dog ennui and worse lacks exercise and/or mental stimulation. What? She eats the best high end dog food available on the planet and we walk at least a mile everyday. Plus, I have placed that copy of Marcel Proust’s ‘Swan’s Way’ that’s been sitting on the back of the John for at least twenty years into her floor bed. She did chew a bit off the cover, but I have yet to see her place a book marker beyond the first chapter, where twenty years ago I left off, giving up to a full page description of a French eclair.
Maybe Andie needs more greens. The other day she captured a Water Hyacinth from the pond and brought it in to eat. I was distracted by desk work, until I heard this crunch, crunch and went into the hall to see a nasty wad of Hyacinth in pieces down the hallway lined up like the time she did a ninja sneak of organic strawberries from a paper bag on the kitchen chair. In time, I’ll teach her the joys of a good Nicoise salad.
Blind Nepalese nuns forage the remaining bamboo forests of the Himalayas for rare herbs that go into the secret formula made by a company called, Biljac. Biljac’s food also promises to Slow Cook (Crock pot?) to preserve taste and key nutrients, support the immune system (now I’m paying attention) and contains Omega3 and 6 fatty acids, not to mention quality ingredients ( maybe that’s where the nuns come in). Although bamboo, a grass, doesn’t have bark maybe Andie in a search for spiritual peace has made a correlation that remains a mystery to we humans.
No, Andie has plenty of energy and a beautiful shiny black coat, on which passers-by always comment, making me very proud of her in some parental way. It helps that her eyelashes are naturally four inches long and her eyes an exquisite golden brown. It may be true that Andie has a tad of ennui, because I’ve seen her stand at the garden window with her paws on the sill for sometime, gazing outward.
Clearly, to my mind, she doesn’t lack stimulation. That little girl has more toys than Toys-R-Us. No Barbie dolls, however, in our valley cultural environment, such symbols of the overbearing sexiest patriarchy, etcetera, etcetera are, well, not encouraged. Andie does have squeak bug and squeak yellow dog. Nobody has said a word to me about that. Even Mr. flag waving Teabody on the corner seems copacetic with Andie’s ‘bring-up.’
The days are closing with darkness arriving at around 1800 hours. So Andie by some eternal clock goes to sleep hours before I do and then rises at 400 hours, wakes me up and out we go into a chilly star studded night. When we come back in she gets her breakfast, while I slip back into bed. Soon she joins me and snuggles up near my head in a small compact ball of contentment.
Our days are filled with the chilly air of crystal clear blue skies, The remaining scent of wood burning smoke and rolling hills of rich colors of amber, yellow green, purple red, and brown. As Andie finishes off the last of the garden apples, I think of all the ways we communicate with our dogs. Andie and I do a lot of sign language. She is bright and a quick learner. This comes in handy when in the wee hours of the morning we go out, rather she goes out, to potty and I don’t want to disturb the neighbors with a ‘COME, SIT’, which sounds like screaming at that hour.
I don’t think I talk baby talk to Andie. I know my parents also addressed me as a perfectly mature small person with perceptual learning defects that would improve over time with a good education and a patina from the school of hard knocks. There was the time I went to Catholic confession ( I was nine years old ), ratted on a teacher and was told I ‘occasioned an atmosphere of sin by being provocative’ and thus might surely go to hell, where I would burn for all eternity unless I changed my ways and stop acting like a Protestant. The good news was that I developed a habit of reading the dictionary. The second part of the good news was that priest I hear-tell was later sent to a special place in New Mexico and I eventually became a Buddhist.
I call Andie ‘Andie’, ‘My Girl’, ‘Girl’, ‘Good Girl’, ‘Missy’, Andie Chan, AC, and my love. Life is good just now.