Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I talk to these dogs, and I think they know exactly what I'm saying. I have been accused of hiding cookies in my pocket to insure I have their full attention, but I'm not ashamed of that. I think dogs are among the 7 Wonders of the World. As it turns out, there's a lot of disagreement about what the seven wonders are anyways. I think Chichen Itza in the Yucatan is pretty amazing as pyramids go, but dogs stack up higher in my opinion. I can't argue with Christ the Redeemer in Rio; there is really no other icon like it on earth. The Colosseum in Rome is pretty hard to beat, too, but it's manmade, unlike a labrador retriever, so the dog is just naturally more miraculous. The Great Wall is amazing, so they say, but I'll take a long path with a good dog any day. Machu Pichu is not a bad name for a dog, if you ask me. And Petra in Jordan is beautiful, but again, man-made, and there's just no contest. The Taj Mahal will probably always rank on the short list of wonders, so I concede that it probably won't get bumped off the list. I've had my share of wonder dogs. I had a dog when I was a kid: Tuffy. He was a dachshund, with more torso than tuffness, and he lived a very long life. It was one of my mom's recurring nightmares, the day she backed the car into the garage to unload groceries and ran him over. We had nursed him through broken bones, spinal troubles, seizures, innoculations, and heartworms but he bit the dust in the darn driveway. When I worked at Graves Mountain Lodge in high school, my friends gave me a little Beagle pup as a going-away gift. I'll never forget telling my mom when I flew into Dallas from Virginia that we had to pick up my luggage in the cargo area. She met Otto and fell in love, just like I did. Otto got bitten by a rattlesnake in our backyard, and Dr. Jimmie Aycock, God love him, nursed him for 3 days before little Otto succumbed to the venom's damage. When I got married, our first dog was an Irish Setter, Rusty, who tried to dig his way out of the house during thunderstorms. He drank from a puddle when he was 8 years old, but as it turned out, the puddle was run-off from grass that had just been watered and he was poisoned by the arsenic in the lawn chemicals. It only cost a couple hundred dollars for the autopsy to figure that out. I carried him into the emergency vet office in Savannah on Bo's shelter-half, and he was buried in that little pup tent. We bought Hobo for Carlisle when we were in Indianapolis, and a boy never loved a dog more. The memory of that golden retriever chasing my golden-haired boy across the cornfield will always make me smile. We lost Hobo in a car accident and the whole family bawled like babies for days. God how we loved that dog. It took a while, but we got another golden retriever, Tramp, and she filled that gaping hole that Hobo left in our lives. Tramp was a jewel. Loyal, lazy, joyful. She gave us a litter of 9 puppies, and we still get Christmas cards from some of them. When we got the call from the cemetery that Bo's gravestone had been installed, we made a family trip to Bushnell National Cemetery. Tramp walked way ahead of the kids, and laid down on Bo's grave, marking the place for us. She died shortly after that visit. None of us handled her loss very well. We waited a year, and a neighbor asked for our help. Buddy was an older dog who needed a home and we welcomed him with open arms. A big, fluffy Golden, he thought he was a lap dog. Loved to sleep on the couch, could eat a whole tray of chocolate chip cookies off the kitchen counter, and liked to talk. He would cross his legs before he'd ever have an accident in the house. He slept beside me every night until he was too old and infirm to climb the stairs, and I spread his ashes over the lake he loved to swim in. Now I'm dogless. I have two loyal friends at Christi's house, Cookie and Emma, who stay with me when Christi and Ryan are on the road. Cookie's a rescue, a great big white shepherd who is very attached to her people, and Emma, the little schitzpoo who adores her peeps as well. They feel secure at Grandma's house. Sometimes I borrow Lauren's labs, waiting for the day when I get another dog of my own. I'm being a little cautious because those attachments are so strong and so tough to handle when they're broken. But I know my Wonder boy is out there, just waiting for me to claim him.