Hankering for Shay to Sashay Home: Everyday Magic, Day 519

This morning at a yoga intensive, Gopi talked about hankerings, and that word propelled me to write a poem about how hankerings, despite bouts of enlightenment, tend to persist one way or another all the day long. Hours later, I sit on my front porch with a major hankering: I want my new dog Shay to come home.

Shay vanished while Ken was with him on the hill in the woods today. Ken turned his back, and the dog, who had been following a scent in the undergrowth with great interest, disappeared. That was a little after noon. A little over eight hours later, we have done all we can think of: consulting with the sheriff, the Humane Society, and an animal psychic; talking to and phoning neighbors; walking the hills and fields multiple times; driving up and down country lanes into all the crevices surrounding this area; and calling out “Shaaaaaayyyyy!!!!!” hundreds of time. I’ve even stood before a stand of cedars, and spoke to them for guidance.

Living in the country is adventurous (read: dangerous) for animals. Things can happen. Coyotes can take away a beloved cat (as has happened two to three times). Animals can go feral (been there, done that too). All manner of ticks can hitchhike in the deep fur of the dog. We’ve seen a lot and mourned a lot over these years. Yet there’s also great space to run, explore and live a dog’s life to the fullest.

Now I’m hoping that dog will soon return and live such a life. In the meantime, I went to the pet store and made him a nametag that I’m wearing under he returns. I’m outside as much as possible to make it easier for him to find home, and I’ll likely sleep on this porch (easy with the futon bed here), waking every time I hear a sound that could be the clippity-clop of his long dog toenails on the front stairs. Please come home, Shay!

Leader of the Pack: Everyday Magic, Day 514

One dog, and you’re a person with a dog. Two dogs, and you’re part of the pack.

I’ve been learning this vividly since Shay moved in with us. Now I have a canine parade tailing me through the house, sitting together with mournfully expectant looks on their faces when I approach the refrigerator (which holds, on top, a box of doggie treats). When I walk toward the front door, go down the stairs, head toward the bathtub or climb into bed, I’m no longer an individual who happens to live with animals, but alpha dog in the sacred and zany pack that lives here.

Having never lived with multiple dogs, it’s a strange sensation to be surrounded by fur and followed by the click-clack staccaco of two big dogs’ nails on wooden floors. Furthermore, as leader of this pack, it falls to me to set the example. No more slipping the old dog food under the table when no one is looking (unless, by miracle, the new dog is far, far away outside for the moment). Much more asking the other members of the pack to sit, stay and come (which they do, amazing me since I could never train my kids accordingly). A lot of throwing squeaky toys and mixing up dog genders (particularly hard when you have one female and one male), cleaning up, hauling bags of dog food and turning my head when one of the dog does something completely disgusting (I’ll spare you the details).

When I leave the house, without a dog or two in tow, I’m just a person, but when I return I find myself deep in the den with the others who will follow me closely downstairs or up, inside or out, so happy to just be running, walking, knocking things over and surging forward as part of the pack. Even at night, especially at night, the pack is tight, dreaming together in our bedroom thanks to one queen-sized bed and two dog beds. They wake and come to me, staring into my sleeping face until I wake too, the reluctant, tired and happy leader of the pack.

We Got a Dog!: Everyday Magic, Day 508

When the Chocolate Labaraner (Weimaraner + Lab) chooses you, who are you to say no? So the day after I finished traveling 39 rings of hell home, I went to the pound with Mariah, our 14-year-old Labmation, for a check-you-out date with the dog who had two weeks ago arrived at our front door. They clicked, and Mariah, who is Ms. Submissive with us, excelled at being the most excellent elder alpha dog. We also had the dog to be formerly known as Dwayne cat-checked, which meant someone paraded him through the cat room to see if he bared his teeth. He didn’t.

My name is Mariah, and I'm happy to have a young male escort

After going through over an hour of pet adoption counseling (seriously! and actually a good thing), we drove the older female Labmation and younger male Labaraner home, debating what to rename him. I was sold on Desi Arnaz, Natalie (by cell phone) wanted Peter, Forest wanted none of these names, Ken wanted Shane, and Daniel and Natalie thought Shane was *insert curseword* stupid. Since it was Ken’s 57th birthday, he got final say, and he suggested Shay, which sounds enough like Dwayne so that the dog formerly known as Dwayne responds to it.

Shay is an energetic guy, and for the first day mostly cialis online free trial stood next to one of us, making purring sounds in between eating and drinking everything in sight. The second day, he got sick as a dog, and a visit to the vet confirmed kennel cough, an ear infection, and as we and our mop, plus multiple towels, soon discovered, a horrific stomach virus all. night. long. The benefit of being so pathetic that the cats came out of hiding to stare at him from high shelves, changing their “evil-monster-come-to-kill-us” assessment to “you-call-this-a-dog?”

My name is Shay (thank god, I'm not called Dwayne)

Whatever the cat’s opinion, I call this a dog, and a lively, handsome, smart dog at that. Within a few hours, he walked to the front door and put his mouth on the door knob when he wanted to go out, and after he figured out that obeying “Sit!” got him a treat, he started running to sit before any of us when we were eating. So I think he’s a genius, but most of all — as he sleeps on his dog bed beside me a few feet from where Mariah sleeps on hers — I know he’s our dog. He looks into our eyes as if he’s always known us, which may well be true.

Dogs Are Better Than Us: Everyday Magic, Day 150

It’s true. They just are. It’s not the same with cats: some particular cats might be better than some particular humans, but for the most part, cats don’t care about being good. Dogs, on the other hand, are the Boddhisattvas of the animal world, come back to earth to help us even though as enlightened beings, they could go to, say, Jupiter or other dimensions. Okay, they do eat the most disgusting things in the universe, jump up on us at unsuspecting moments, bark to go out and then back in with no rhyme and reason and occasionally fight other dogs. But just because they have issues doesn’t mean they’re not way better than your typical human.

My dog is especially better, which is not to say she is the only best dog in the world, but she’s sure one of them. We found her — of course! — at the pound. She was the dog the staff kept at their desks because she was so sweet they couldn’t bear to be away from her. A lab-mation (mostly black lab with a shield-shaped spread of white and dalmation spots on her chest, she loves everyone, and after 12 years with us, particularly us.

We got Mariah Lily Karumba Lassman because my then 10-year-old son Daniel needed a friend and our house in the country needed a dog. Did I mention I was a cat person before her? Despite her eating all the Birkenstocks in the house and being sock-obsessed, she was a pool of love from the get-go. She spent a good part of her life sleeping with one child or another, kind of like an 80-pound body pillow.

When guests arrived, even ones who didn’t like dogs, Mariah walked over, put her head tenderly in their laps and looked up with great understanding. She won them over. When delivery people or other strangers came, she ran out to greet them and rolled on her back. When any of us were sick, she slept on the floor, lengthwise against our beds, ready to jump up and follow us from room to room. When critters circled the outside of the house, she circled the inside of the house, barking them away.

She is also a wizard with cats. I once found her lying down, face to face with Saulina, our cat of 20 years who was so smart that she did our taxes for us. They stared at each other for hours in that position, and I realized this was probably a daily pit stop in their lives when the humans were gone. I’m sure they were transmitting life-giving information about healing properties of the universe, each from their respective planets. Mariah was a love bunny with a series of kittens, and is now good friends with Miyako. She’s also been a staunch defender of each kitten in his/her time from Judy, the old cat, who doesn’t mean to be so bad but suffers from PTSD.

Now Mariah is old. Her eyes are glassy (but the vet said she’s not blind), she walks with a limp because of her arthritis, and she’s graying at the edges. Yesterday, she wouldn’t stop cry-barking, so I took her to the vet from hard-core steroids and painkillers. “12 is old for a lab,” people tell me, but I haven’t really faced this reality. Yet this reality is coming fast, and as I carry-pushed her into our bedroom, where she’s slept for years on the floor beside us, I nudged her onto a large pillow, covered her with a fleece blanket, and prayed for this good dog to live happy years, and least happy months more. Some beings seem too good to die.