It's ten p.m.
and my dog is telling me what to do.
You can't go to bed, she says,
until Davey has his pills
and I can't
until you have your cocoa,
so Sit! Stay!
till I tell you it's okay.
That's better. Good girl.
I know everything
that's done in this house
and the mouse
that lives under the tv
is my friend.
Nick was my husband’s dog. But, come June, he tagged along every time I ventured out to the garden with my picking bucket. Like me, the big yellow Lab knew that nothing in the world tastes as good as a strawberry plucked hot from the vine on a summer day. I think of him now, with this year’s bumper crop of berries, as I lean over to snap the stem of each scarlet jewel between my thumbnail and index finger.
Teddy is very large, and very white. People ask how much he weighs – around 100 pounds - and how much he eats - not that much.
Teddy is a Great Pyrenees, a guardian dog breed used for centuries to protect livestock from wolves and other predators in northern Spain and Southern France. Before that, the breed came from Asia Minor, perhaps as long as ten thousand years ago. In the late 1600’s, Great Pyrenees were royal court dogs in France.
If Rex could have talked, we would have finished each other’s sentences. We got another dog right away.
That wasn’t the plan. But back in March, less than two weeks after Rex died and when I still had faint bruises from digging my fingers into my forehead amid uncontrollable sobs, I signed us up to “foster” a Saint Bernard mix that had been rescued from a crack den.
Two excellent new books from Dogwise Publishing, Claudia Fugazza’s Do As I Do and Mechtild Käufer’s Canine Play Behavior, are invaluable resources for those who are serious about understanding and communicating with their dogs.
She and I are alone. When I say the B-word, she rushes to my side and goes into a sit, the first thing she learned, and so far the only one: sit comes before treat the way head comes before tail. It’s not open for discussion.
When you grow up as a child of the dry, in Southern California where water has always been as valuable as melted silver in the canals and irrigation ditches called zanjas way back in the early 1800s, the river calls you. The Santa Ana River calls me every day. I can’t ride my bike or walk beside it every day, but I do as often as I can, and my dog Fantasia loves the wildness of the river as if she were born to hunt there. She usually hunts tennis balls.