Saturday, August 16, 2008

Which is it? Does it matter?

Random images. The look of joy  - Lebensfreude - on a turned-up snoot, big brown eyes rolling up at you exquisite pleasure voiced in low grunts in being readied to go outside for any reason at all, but especially, for a nice long walk in the tall grasses. Even better, a towel rub-down after she comes back from a walk soaking wet, which is about 30-40% of the time. I stretch the ends of the towel and rub it perpendicular to her back, from neck to tail. Efficient method. Also makes one happy just to see how happy it makes her. Going to the car, trotting expectantly, looking back for instructions every other step. Sitting upright there. Or, moving through the yard with me, never more than one inch from my left leg, anticipating the route, hoping for the words "cross the street". Her visible bodily struggle to maintain self-control against sheer glee. Watching her wriggle on her back as soon as we hit the lushest, deep green grasses on the slope, sometimes managing a bit of a slide, always getting really into it, legs in the air, body winding back and forth like a snake. This dog knows how to enjoy a real life and make every simple joy and basic need fulfillment a truly great experience. Ears prick straight up at a sound, a word from me. Snuggle at a moment's notice. 

When I taught her "right paw" and "left paw", it only took a few tries; in two days she had it down. I mixed my left with her right, but it's good anyhow! She loves the little routine of sit, right/left paw, down, jump up, and bang. Nothing ambitious. I was trying to work on the first step of agility : touching plastic lid, which sounds weird, but makes sense. But I can climb up boulders with her, and she hops up, on leash, as light as the proverbial mountain goat, stands on the cliff and gazes out over the inlet contentedly. If I do a few yoga postures there, or on the beach, she'll come in close and stand solidly, as if spotting me. I don't know why she started doing this, but it is rather helpful. I started calling it "doga". 
I miss her being under the desk when I am in my little office, or in the bed in the kitchen when I'm cooking, and I miss her tailing me around the house. We go down the stairs side by side: she waits at the top, won't go before me unless commanded, and prefers going together. A little tight in my narrow staircase, luckily so far I haven't tripped on the shallow treads. At the bottom, she waits, to see where I'm headed. 

When I am busy in the kitchen, I have her lie in her bed under the kitchen island table where she has a central view. Doesn't stir if the cats come along and hop up to their tabletop dishes, right over her head, and back down again. She will follow me to the bathroom and post herself outside, unless of course she sees me start the shower. Then she'll turn tail and make a beeline for the safety of her kitchen bed, not taking any chances that it might be her turn for a bath. Her great dislike of water is understandable, having been abandoned in the rain with her whole litter for God knows how long before she was found. She'll tolerate a bath without drama, when she must, to her credit. But her discomfort is clear, and not until she feels that towel rubbing her coat does she really relax.

Even after one short year, I have many stories to tell about my dog Brindi, as any dog owner would. Whether therapeutic or masochistic, I worry that the act of writing them down may have an unintended consequence of consigning all that she is to the past. Too painful to risk. 

How many times did I promise Brindi, gazing up at me with her sweet brown eyes, that she is safe with me, and nothing bad will happen to her again, that I will do everything to protect her, that I will always love her, and that we will be together always. Call me stunted, call me sentimental, but I have never made or been able to make such a promise to anyone in my life other than these helpless beings. I cannot comprehend that after such a brief time in her first real home, Brindi's life is at risk because the city believes she's a risk. And I cannot accept that I am helpless to save her: a dog that has not bitten a single person, whose "attacks" on passing dogs at the edge of my property were short-lived, and minor by any standard.

Yes, I complied with the muzzle order. Accidents will happen when your house is up on steel. And nobody was hurt in the accidental incident on July 24.  

Regardless of what anyone says, nobody could be a more committed and dutiful owner for Brindi. No dog could be more willing to learn. Under my care, there may have been a few mishaps, but none of them, none, caused serious harm. Also under my care, a dramatic transformation in this dog's life was underway that, before it was radically interrupted, was headed to correcting the source of the mishaps with love and discipline, and expert training. If my prayers are answered, and this process is allowed to continue, these mishaps will cease. And our life together can go on.