Thursday, June 02, 2011

A girl and her dog

 As much as I have complained about my dog over the years--I just spent a good ten minutes with a friend, lamenting the ways in which adding a needy, shedding, dirt spreading, tick-attracting, barking, begging, drooling dog to the mix of an already chaotic household takes a certain amount of mental imbalance-- we are ever so happy to be together again, flesh and fur, with our favorite dog.

Despite the gaping hole where Ian should, and soon will, be, she makes us complete. She makes us realize what has been missing in our life: A furry friend. Two years of doglessness was enough.

Isla is the most affected by our new, old family addition. She is a new girl. A girl with a dog to love. Thank goodness because she has gobs of love to give and I can't always field it all. It comes at me in swirling cyclones and sometimes, I find myself ducking when I should be opening my arms wide, simply because I'm daunted by its fullness, its depth, its pulling power. 

Now it's Ruby's turn to get caught up in the cylone. To be smothered with little girl love. And I have noticed a slight break, a lessening in the urgency of Isla's need to express love and affection. But I do have to be ever vigilant that she isn't suffocating, or strangling, the dog. I did catch her trying to play wheelbarrow with Ruby in the kitchen the other day.

Not good.

 But Ruby lets her know when she's had enough, or is being tugged too hard. And she does her Houdini act. But she always lets herself be captured and contained and dominated again. Eventually

 She's a loyal companion. With a wary sense of duty, fidelity, devotion, to her people. Especially the ones who feed and even break biscuits with her.

Dinner's coming.

One for me, one for you.

Isn't that delicious?

But I think Ruby has benefited from our reunion as well. When I first saw her after we got back, she seemed diminished, tired, old. That's because she is tired and old, and, according to the vet, five pounds overweight. (Staying with grandma, who keeps cookies in every pocket, can do that to you.)

Right now she is lying with her back against the back door. Her entire side is undulating up and down in time with her breathing. Inhale, exhale. It sounds like she is struggling to get enough oxygen but maybe she is just congested somehow. Do dogs get congested?

But I fluctuate between seeing her as an old dying dog and seeing her as the floppy, silly puppy she has always been. Just today, on our lap around the front meadow, I looked back to see her trotting gaily along the back stretch, suitably behind me as she prefers to be, her ears flapping like black washcloths in the wind, her nose up fishing for scents, her tail wagging. Just like old times. A happy dog.

It brings me joy to see her trotting happily through the grass. Just like she's my kid. My first born. I have to wonder what she thinks of me, of us, back here so suddenly, just picking up where we left off with nary an explanation. Does she need one, or does she know.?

She doesn't seem to be holding any grudges. But she does manifest more separation anxiety than I remembered from before. When we return from going out without her, she whines and yelps and talks to us, her body in a full-body wag, for a solid five minutes. If only I knew what she was saying.

Maybe I should ask Isla.


Anna said...

Great, Betsy! I'm going to post this on the DibbleDog page - hope that's okay.

mooserbeans said...

So sweet. We just lost our dog this January. She was our "practice baby." We got her the day we found out we were pregnant. There is nothing like the love between and girl and her dog:)

Meowmie said...

I love this post, and the photos are adorable, too. So glad that you have all reconnected.

Betsy said...

Thanks Anna. That would be grand.

Betsy said...

mooserbeans: Sorry about your dog. We practiced with Ruby for five years before diving into the real thing.

Iron Rider said...

Sweet Ruby. Love that dog.

Betsy said...

Iron rider: Isla tries to ride her, like a bike, but it doesn't go over so well.

Special K said...

So sweet! And I'm crying over her not knowing why you came and left. My dog Abby looks very similar! She's also on the older, overweight side, and my "firstborn." Loved this post!

Robin said...

Per your wondering about whether dogs get congested: My somewhat elderly cat has been sneezing and coughing lately, and it worries me a bit, but I swear she's done this in past springs. I think she has allergies, and maybe if she does, Ruby could, too. Especially getting a look at that grassy meadow she's in with Isla....

Emma said...

Oh I love dogs. Right now our Josie is 'helping' with the gardening, which involves redistributing the leaves that have just been raked. And she's having a whale of a time, out there with all her humans.

Michelle M. said...

Betsy - I am a week late in reading this, but it is so timely for me. We have just added a new member to our family, after 3 years of being without a dog, on Sunday we adopted a 9 month old puppy, and he has COMPLETELY changed the mood in our house in just four short days.

We have been struggling with what we feel are some odd behavior issues from our 4 y/o for the past few months, but for every day this week, he has been a different child. He is happy, giggly, sweet, agreeable - the way you want a loved and loving child to feel/be. Maybe it is just the novelty of the new friend in the house - hopefully it is something more. Maybe its that our new love "Benji" has filled something in Jake we didn't even realize was missing. Either way we are all enjoying it, and the amazing, unquestioning, unconditional love that comes from these wonderful creatures.