there is nothing, weather-wise, that dogdog likes better than snow. he is invigorated by it. he’s not particularly fond of rain and he is definitely not a heat-wave dog. but snow is a different story entirely. when asked, “what’s keeping you in wisconsin? why wouldn’t you want to move to florida?” i have to answer, “the dog doesn’t want to live in a hot clime.” period. i mean, really – every summer – he suffers (cue up maria portakalos in mybig fat greek wedding – “she suffers” as i cannot write the word without hearing her voice.)
as i write this, dogga is at the end of the bed, curled up on the quilt, sleeping. he’ll be ten this year and that is astounding to us. he is slowing down a bit, sometimes acting like an older dog. but there is nothing that makes him seem younger than a good snowfall. running out, he eats the snow off the deck, licking it – like a sensational ice cream cone – as he goes. we look out the window to let him back in and there he is, curled up in the snow, covered in giant flakes, happy as a clam. snow is his gig. it floats his boat. it’s his cup of tea. it makes him happy, gives him the energy of a puppy, it’s his thing.
i wonder if we are as wise as this. our snowdog is not thinking about his reaction to snow. he’s not analyzing it or weighing its costs v benefits. dogga is not wondering if it will last or when the snow will melt, thereby rendering him snowless and less blissful. he is not asking when it might snow again, banking on the next time, forgoing some of the joy of this time. he is just out there, laying in it – full-out, napping, accumulating snowflakes like seconds of ecstasy. he’s fully immersed in something he loves, paying no mind to the rains of spring or the heat of the summer, unconcerned about the turn of the seasons. he is simply in snow and he is happy.
we didn’t order our dogga with stripes, but, had we ordered our dogga, we would have ordered exactly him. he is an aussie full of aussie-quirks and amber eye-contact, a furball of vacuum-stalling potential, a lifesaver in every way our pets save us from ourselves and the world around us.
he is – most definitely – not perfect.
though he knows he must sit-on-the-rug before going out – and wait for one of us to utter “ok” – he first must jump up and down, seemingly effortlessly, like an nba star looking for a basket. then, with a sheepish i-couldn’t-help-it look on his face, he sits.
though he knows he is not supposed to run along the back fence barking at the neighbordog, he must first run along the back fence and bark. then, with a wink at the neighbordog, he returns diligently to the patio or the deck, fully expecting a treat for his “restrained” behavior.
though he knows he is not supposed to pull on the leash during walks, the first few minutes are like taking a giant bungee cord for a walk – out and back, out and back – although recent days and the new use of the “wonder walker” have yielded a magical change, sans bungee-dog.
though he does not sing, he has several songs – the dogga-dogga song, the dad song, the mom song. no other songs count on his chart, except the babycat song, which we sing for him when he is – or we are – missing his babycat.
though we cannot guess what he is thinking, his beautiful eyes give us eye contact that tell us everything we need to know.
our dear friends have a puppy. he is full of puppy-smell and puppy-teeth and sweet wriggly antics and is the variety of dog that doesn’t shed. they are being very intentional about his training, which makes us think about the books we read, the videos we watched and the way dogdog turned out. we weren’t as intentional in that phase of our lives nine years ago. at least not about puppy-training. maybe there’s still hope. sigh.
we visited together and caught up outside around the firepit the evening we met him, puppy in a fenced playpen off to the side, learning how to calm-himself-down-when-new-people-arrive. we clearly need to start that part over with dogga.
we drove home talking about that darling puppy. our friends would love us to get a puppy now too. that makes us laugh. we are – oh so clearly – not ready for a puppy.
we pulled into the driveway and, judging by his quick walk, david was as anxious to hug our dog as i was. though dogdog was skeptical about the attention, especially since he could smell “puppy” all over us, he gave in to the lavish display.
because, though we didn’t order our dogga with stripes, though he sheds like dandelion fluff in the spring wind, though he sometimes tries our patience and is a bit doggedly stubborn about barking, though he has us wrapped around his little wagawag tail, he is exactly the dogga we need.
i never asked where the deer head on the den wall came from. we were not a hunting family and we were verymuch a mammal-loving family, but it must have never occurred to me to ask. this old deer head, hung on the paneling of the room with our black and white tv and giant rock fireplace built stone-by-tedious-stone by sven, ruled over the garage wall side of the room and was somewhat opposite the back door.
if snoopy, our modell’s sporting goods $10.20 dog (of which i paid the 20 cents), got to barking incessantly, my sweet dad would point to the deer head and, in his brooklyn-voice, taunt her, “you wanna go on the wall?” somehow she understood this empty threat and would mostly stop barking. but if she didn’t stop, my dad would bark back at her, “hold kjeft!!” my sons-of-norway norwegian lessons were not long-lived, but they were comprehensive enough for me to know that meant “shut up!”. spoken in a different language, it didn’t seem as rude.
when they were growing up, i never allowed the girl or the boy to say “shut up!” to each other or anyone. it just seemed like an unnecessarily aggressive way to ask someone to be quiet or at least quieter. i never thought to use “hold kjeft” as an alternative back then.
but now, as dogga runs the backyard looking for the rest of the cast in 101 dalmations to bark back at him, “hold kjeft” is my command of choice. as we pass people in the car and he is suddenly aware of a dog on the sidewalk out the car window, “hold kjeft” is my command of choice. as the neighbors get him riled up, with fifteen kids or so in the backyard all screaming at the top of their lungs and their dog barking-barking, “hold kjeft” is my command of choice. every time i say it, i see the deer head in the den and i can hear my sweet poppo’s voice.
it doesn’t necessarily do the trick all the time. but it conjures up precious long-ago memories of a different time, when i watched black and white tv with no remote, sat on the hearth with hot chocolate and sit-upons, paid no attention to decor or other adult-riddled-responsibilities and laughed when my dad stared at our underbite-blessed-boxer-mixed-breed-mutt and pointed to the wall.