Alaska, animal, animals, brother, cat, Charles Dickens, coyote, coyotes, David Copperfield, dog, dog blog, dogs, dogs and cats, Edgar, family, fiction, German Shepherd, humor, Humphrey, Maggie, man, Mr. Bailey, mystery, narrative, orange boy, pet, photography, photos, quest, quotes, sniff, snow, spy, woman
Snow has arrived! You can imagine my excitement, reader, when Woman and Man invited me out into the yard to sniff and play while they shoveled the driveway. I was so invigorated–the bracing bite of the winter wind–the soft, cool snowflakes… I investigated all of the smells and observed the neighbors carefully as they shoveled in their own yards. When Man threw snow up into the air with his shovel, I caught it in my ferocious teeth, impressing him. Snow always brings me back to my puppyhood days in Alaska, where it snowed often and created lovely drifts for me to burrow into and leap onto.
After all of this time in the great outdoors, I was exhausted and ready for repose. No sooner had I stretched out on the carpet to doze, than I heard a scratching at the door. Edgar was here again! I quickly ushered him inside and we greeted one another happily. He looked out the window after he entered.
I acted the perfect host and supplied Edgar with food and toys and water.
“Humphrey, I know I have been rather mysterious, and I know that I have frightened you with stories of danger. I wanted to tell you more of the truth of what happened to me. It all started shortly after I ran away from home. I saw something I wasn’t supposed to see. I saw coyotes holding a meeting with a group of domestic dogs and cats. It was out in the woods…they were making plans…no one would ever think…
“Anyway, they saw me, and I had to run for my life to escape from them. It took all of the agility which has been passed down from our mother into your blood and mine. The network of coyotes and pets is wider than I had ever suspected. The coyotes here must be looking for me.”
“But Edgar,” I asked him, “What do they hope to accomplish? Why would these pets and wild beasts work together?”
Edgar sighed. “That is what I have been working to figure out. This is big, Humphrey. Some things I guess, some I have discovered, some I merely suspect, but still, I do not know all. Keep your nose and ears open. Mr. Bailey’s property is a hot spot for coyote activity, and I think the cat in your building is in league with them. Let me know what you find out, but be careful!”
Edgar would not leave until I had promised caution in all things. Just before he left, I remembered one thing I had wanted to ask him:
“Edgar…you and Maggie…how do you know each other?”
He paused and looked back over his shoulder. “Maggie…” he sighed. “She’s an old friend. She helped me when I was hiding out in the woods from the coyotes near her property. She–” but he was cut off. We both froze, our ears the only mobile parts of our bodies, swiveling toward the noise of a cat settling on the welcome mat at the other door to the apartment. We heard a soft hiss. Edgar and I looked at one another, and then he left.
As for me, I went to the other door and lay there, listening to the cat. I let out a low growl and heard her answering hiss. I wasn’t sure what she had heard, or even if she was truly spying on me, but I wanted her to know that I was fierce.
I hope that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world.
Then the fish came alive, with his death in him, and rose high out of the water showing all his great length and width and all his power and his beauty.
-Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea
I remember fondly the first time I went fishing. I remember it like it was yesterday…
We leave the harbor and I watch the water for signs of sea creatures or anything out of the ordinary. Oh, the glorious smell of the sea air! The boats and birds to watch, the changing landscape, my humans around me…joy! The worst part of fishing, though, I must confess, is that Man says, “No! No!”–I must not chew the delicious, salty ropes. Why not? This was not sufficiently explained. Woman’s brother is visiting, and he is fun to play with.
Far away from the harbor, Woman’s Brother catches the first fish! It is large and frightening (or would be frightening to a dog less brave than I). It flops violently on the deck, and I step in to help Man and Woman’s Brother with it.
I had encountered wild creatures before–moose, birds, insects–but this was a rendezvous of a new kind. The fish was salty and slippery. Its movements were alien to me. It came from a secret world under the surface of what I saw which I could only wonder at. It knew the answers to profound mysteries, mysteries which I may never study or solve. There was a moment when its eyes (both on one side of its body) met mine and our souls communed. The eyes of the great fish held no desire for vengeance; the fish seemed to understand that it was fulfilling its humble role in the chain of existence. At the same time, the gaze of the fish reminded me of my own mortality, and that I, too, was part of that same chain. Indeed, this was a lesson I knew well already. Had not my brother been killed? Had I not dealt with tragedy and death?
Eventually, the fish was still, and the day was done. That fish and another we took home, cooked, and ate (I was also allotted a small portion). Fishing had lost a little charm for me by this time. There were many new regulations which I did not like. The thrill of the encounter with the fish, however, I will treasure. I would look forward to having such an encounter again.
I confess to you, my friend, that I love you and that in my airy dreams of futurity you have been my constant friend and companion.
-Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
As I grew and became stronger, I began to venture outside the house and network with dogs in my neighborhood. I soon made friends with Sawyer, a dog just a little older than I was, who lived across the way. Sawyer was everything I wanted to be, and I looked up to him; he was strong, shiny, tall, friendly, and he always got the tennis ball when we played fetch with the humans. Sometimes I reached it first, but when he came over, I always gave it to him.
The seasons changed, and Sawyer and I remained close friends. We shared our secrets and our favorite pastimes. For a time, he filled the hole in my heart left by Orange Boy.
Sometimes, Sawyer would even come on walks with me when I went with Woman or Man. I would be on my leash and Sawyer would run ahead of us and then circle back and gallop past us, only to run ahead once more. When he ran past me, even though I knew I shouldn’t, I lunged forward on my leash, my heart leaping with the excitement of running, which both Sawyer and I understood. Woman and Man, though they enjoyed Sawyer’s company in our yard, were not always happy when Sawyer accompanied us on our walks.
We had to leave Sawyer behind when we left Alaska. I still miss him and think of him often, and of that time in my life. I had imagined that Sawyer and I would be friends forever. Man and Woman were almost as sad to leave Sawyer as I was. In my dreams, I still leap and run and play with Sawyer.