I don't mean this metaphorically. I flirt with real dogs everywhere who, as I mosey on toward my mid-60s, turn out to be so much better than most humans and often far more friendly, loving, and even good-looking.
I grew up with a dog and at least one kitty in the house, but I didn't fall hard for the hounds until my kids were small and we got rescue dog named Mariah. She was a black labmation who was so joyful that the people who worked at the Humane Society kept her up front with them so they could adore and pet her all day. She was also the perfect pup for a raucous trio of kids who regularly dressed her up, dragged her to bed with them, and fed her from the table when we weren't looking (but then, we weren't much better).
As she was entering the doggie hospice stage of life, another lab, a chocolate brown one who was part Weimaraner, showed up at our front door one February morning, nose to nose with Mariah with just the storm door window between them. Shay turned out to be one of the great loves of my life. Not only did he accompany Mariah in her final months, but he became my 24/7 in-house bestie and personal assistance who didn't actually assist. I would type, he would chew something in between his self-assigned duties of escorting him to the kitchen, the bathroom, or even to the car. I held him in my arms when he died, and I don't think I'll ever stop missing him. In my dreams, he's turned into Shay the White, a little like Gandalf's transformation.
While we have a lovely old and odd border collie, Moxie, now -- who I love to hang with -- what I've noticed lately is that my dog love has stormed the doors beyond my home. Wherever I go, my eye is constantly drawn to the dog on the street, in the car, walking down the trail, or panting toward a water bowl downtown.
I look at the dog, the dog looks at me, and I'm often smitten. If humans are around and conversation is at play, I sometimes find it hard to concentrate on the words when there's an amazing dog -- maybe a rat terrier or a basset hound or white lab -- present.
Like on Thanksgiving when we had 15 people over and 4 dogs, which is about the right ratio. While we kept the dogs (all wonderful) on the back deck, I noticed Luna, the Bodhisattva of a husky who claims my friend Laurie as hers, apart from the pack and looking a bit forlorn. "That's how huskies are," someone told me, but somewhere between eating stuffing and salad, I opened the back door and brought Luna in as my exclusive date. When she lifts up her head and howls or eyes me with her one blue and one brown eye, I swoon.
The thing about dog love is that it's almost always easy, notwithstanding dealing with dogs who eat just about everything (Shay once ate half a pair of Ken's pants), get into what they shouldn't (Shay learned to turn on the gas stove and open the fridge), and make a crazy mess of things, sometimes involving feathers, vomit, mud, and the smell of skunk.
But compared to the mayhem humans bring to this world, I'm with the dogs. Also with the cats, but that's another story.
P.S. If you want to read more about dogs, especially about the wild character of Shay, click here for lots of posts.
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