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Feeling a little raw today. The combination of unspeakable suffering in the world, worries about the future (mine, yours, our country, humanity) and recovering from eyelid surgery on the face is just a small carcinoma, but eyelid surgery is not recommended. Anesthesia is also not required during reconstructive surgery if you have symptoms of CFS and POTS. I’m back to wobbling my whole body, running out of gas way too early, and having a mind as sharp as a cabbage. (Example: It took me a few seconds to find the name “light green coleslaw vegetable” in my mind. At least I started with a description.)
Personally, this is all good news. The surgeon says that in six to twelve months my face will be back to normal. I forgave him for not craning his neck when he reattached my eyelids. I am 100% confident that I will be back to where I was in terms of energy balance/balance in about a few weeks. I am enjoying the beautiful sunny weather here (60’s today!) and continue to be thrilled to live in such a beautiful place.
And globally? Let’s just say that we all need to love and be loved more than ever. Perhaps that is why, when I was looking for a topic to write about, I was drawn to my book, dog” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>For the love of a dog. Unlike The other end of the leash its sales were okay, but I loved writing it. There is so much to learn about the comparative emotions of humans and dogs, including what may be the same, what may be different. It’s been eighteen years since I wrote it, so of course we’ve learned a lot since then. But the chapters on the love between humans and dogs, I suspect, will be eternal. Today is a good day to focus on that.
Here is the afterword:
As I write this, it has been almost a year since Luke died. Snow is falling now, white flakes are falling on Luke’s memorial stone in the high pasture. Lassie is lying on the sheepskin at my feet. She is fine now and so am I. A few months after Luke’s death, Lassie started begging me to let her work with the sheep, so I opened the pen gate and asked her to herd the sheep into a far corner. I helped her at first, standing behind to support her as she faced the toughest sheep in the flock, sheep that only Luke had ever tackled before. Step by step, she gained courage, leaning into work, trying to hold her ground, taking over from her father. Now she works like a dream, every night she steadily and bravely drives the sheep away from the feeders so that I am not trampled. She sparkles with joy every night as she picks up her toys, throws them in the air, teases me to grab them and play tug of war with her.
I’m fine now too. I still miss Luke, I miss him so much. A part of me died with Luke, as it always does when someone we love deeply dies. But a part of Luke will always live in me, and my heart doesn’t hurt like it used to. There are days when I still cry because of Luke, every now and then I succumb to a good poster. But those days are getting fewer and fewer, and I feel in my heart that Luke and I have moved on.
I now live on a farm with three dogs, Lassie, Pip and Tulip, and I love each and every one of them very much. My love for each dog is different. Tulip is my clown, my stand-up comedian, I can count on her to cheer me up on the darkest day with her happy and bright puppy eyes. She is now dozing in the sun, sprawled out on the couch after staying up last night to warn the coyotes away. Pip, my sweet and gentle Peppy Tay, is now old, almost deaf and often staggered. She follows me everywhere, doesn’t want to be alone even for a minute. She is now lying next to me, just a few feet away. I feel the desire to make her remaining days easier, so strong that my heart expands as I write about it.
And Lassie? Oh, Lassie. I named her after the famous Lassie, the imaginary dog that everyone wants but rarely gets, who seems to live and breathe just to make you happy. Lassie is butter, sweet and ready, purer and truer than any man. Like her father, Lassie adores me, pure and simple. If Jim and I go our separate ways on the farm, Lassie won’t follow him. She stays with me. If the vet tech takes her by the leash and drags her for a medical, she’s too polite to protest, but her head will turn to me, her eyes pleading. Looking at her face, I think of what Alex the parrot says to his friend Irene when she has to leave him at the vet clinic. “Come here. I love you. I’m sorry. I want to go back.” When I leave Lassie, I have to turn away, walk to the car, put my head on the wheel, take a few sips before I can drive away.
I am not alone in this love for my dogs; I’m not neurotic or crazy. Millions of healthy people love their dogs so much that they are willing to risk their lives to save them. I don’t want to romanticize our relationship with dogs—as someone who has worked with canine aggression for seventeen years, I know the dark side of human-dog interactions as much as anyone. It’s not all pretty, as intense, emotional relationships rarely happen. We cannot pretend that the fear and anger felt and expressed by both species does not cause terrible and sometimes lasting harm to both humans and dogs. But it is the feeling of joy that binds us; a shared happiness that sweeps us up in giddy, joyful waves, sailing through life together, smiling and amazed at the wonder of our love.
Last night Lassie and I played her favorite game together. Again and again I threw her favorite toy on the carpet. Each time she would jump after him and then come back to me with a radiant face, soft and shining eyes. Her trim figure could not seem to contain the feeling of joy and love of games. At some point in the middle of our game, I realized I was glowing, and a huge smile appeared on my face. At that moment I was truly and completely happy.
In some ways, it really is that simple, isn’t it? At its best, this is what dogs do; they make us happy. In our power, we also make them happy. This can only be true because we share so much with them and it is the basis of what we share. our emoteions dogs are emotions—living, breathing embodiments of fear, anger, and joy, emotions that we can read on their faces as well as in any language.
This emotional connection between our dogs and us is not trivial. We humans may be brilliant and special, but we are still connected to the rest of life. No one reminds us of this more than our dogs. Perhaps the human condition will always involve trying to remind ourselves that we are separate from the rest of the natural world. We are separate from other animals; this is undeniably true. But in acknowledging this, we must acknowledge another truth, the truth that we are also the same. That’s what dogs and their emotions give us – a connection. A connection with life on earth, with everything that binds us and cradles us so that we don’t feel too alone. dogs are our bridge—our connection to who we really are and, perhaps most vividly, who we want to be.
We call them to our home, as if we are calling home. Enough, dogs. Come back to our home where you belong. Your work is here, in our homes, in our hearts, forever. It will do.
Laughter with love is the best medicine: I rarely check Amazon for my books, but when I searched my blog for “dog love” topics, dogs” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>The other end of the leash along with a list of recent Amazon reviews. Here’s one that made me laugh out loud:
“There are about one or two paragraphs throughout the book that contain useful information. . . Since I had no idea who the book would even be useful for, I used the pages to pick up dog poo.’
I am just as vulnerable to criticism like the next person, but this one was so over the top I couldn’t do anything but laugh. No need to defend the book, if you’ve read it and enjoyed it, just laugh with me at the funny aspects of our big, sassy brains. There is always, always something to laugh about.
MEANWHILE down at the farm: Yesterday I took my first (very short) walk from the farm on a perfect fall day. What a joy. Skip was full of himself and wanted to play with Maggie, who wasn’t done sniffing her way down the trail.
Skip finally decided to just look handsome.
I asked Jim to stop on the way home so that I could photograph these cows lying under the beautiful sky. As soon as I got out of the car, it happened. God, I love cows. They are so interesting. So much for a shot of contented cows lying under a gorgeous sky.
Here they are in two minutes, I wonder who this handsome man is sitting in the car. Thank you girls, it was nice to meet you.
When we got home, the dogs got new horns to chew on Duluth Trading Company on Mount Horiv, those incredibly expensive chew toys that my dogs run on both hot and cold. I needed some retail therapy that works better on dog toys than clothes, right?
Last question for you: Will I have enough flannel shirts?