Monday, August 9, 2010

The Dog Thing, part III

Mirri's death, and Satchel's after, left me pining. For what, I didn't know. In the intervening years, I've come to understand that it was close animal friendship—the company of a "familiar," if you will—that I was missing; a special one-on-one relationship with an animal, a loving bond. I have this with Fenway Bartholomule, and while I don't fool myself into thinking he couldn't learn to love carrots from another master, I do feel that we have an extraordinary connection.

Between Mirri and Fenway, I only knew that something was missing. I tried, and failed, to find it in Satchel, and after him I tried, and failed, to find it in Story.

I adopted Story—a young red heeler—from the animal shelter with a less-than-full understanding of her background, but with the sense that she needed to come out of her shell. It was naive for me to assume that I, a mother of three and a busy, working housewife, was the one to help her with this process. Story's life had a bad beginning, a challenging middle (with us), and a happy ending that started with my placing a Craigslist ad after nearly two difficult years. "Tell me more about her," the fourth respondent answered. My reply? "She's a submissive urinator, she's afraid of strangers, dogs, livestock, and men, she poops when she's anxious, she bit my coworker, and she needs intensive and careful resocialization with a trained professional." The respondant's reply? "Sounds PERFECT." Story is now a beloved member of a new family, and the main priority for two dog-savvy adults with plenty of time, money, and energy for her very worrisome social gaps. She is getting the help she needs, and that she could not get in her several years with me. She is, as I like to think of it, someone's Fenway.

As for me, I've figured something out. I've learned that, as much as I like dogs—as much as I admire them, enjoy them, and understand them—I don't really want another. Not now, though maybe someday. For now, I'm enjoying Paisley more and more, and finally seeing him for the very good dog that he is, and I'm nurturing a great relationship with Fenway—my mule, who fits in Mirri's shoes.

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