Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Wave

     Just when the "Extreme Fire Danger" signs were starting to pop up again, three blessed inches of rain fell on Austin Tuesday night.  A real storm, complete with thunder and lightning and the magnificent sound of water slamming onto our metal roof; we caught about four thousand gallons in our rainwater collection system, and I'd rather have that water than any thing from any store in the whole wide world.  Ivy protected us from the storm by pacing back and forth across the bed, standing at alert and growling at the windows.  Revel slept straight through the whole thing like the good peaceful boy he is.
     Yesterday the yard was too muddy for the dogs to play in, so I took them on extra walks to make up for it.  At noon my neighborhood seemed absolutely deserted, of people that is. Almost every place we passed had a dog or two, left in the yard while the people worked, I suppose.  Almost all barked with a combination of joy (Something to do!) and menace (You're on my turf!).  Each time I told Ivy and Revel to "leave it" and kept them moving forward, and when they looked at me wonderingly I told them to be glad they were out on a walk, their third walk of the day, instead of left in a yard.  They seemed to sense their good fortune and they walked along regally, sniffing the rain-washed air and occasionally touching noses in a way that makes this mother's heart sing.
     I thought about all the ways in which my Aussies resemble human toddlers (nap a lot, bad at sharing, find value in a toy only when the other guy has it, don't like to be alone) and all the ways in which they don't (extremely fast, in Ivy's case, and strong in Revel's).  I thought about a house that used to be on my Meals on Wheels route, if the word "house" is even appropriate.  It was more like a junkyard, fenced in sagging chain link topped with barbed wire, with a structure at the back in which people lived.  The sheet I'd been given with notes on each client read, "Do NOT approach the house!  Dog will bite!  Client will come out to receive the meal.  Honk if necessary."  This was a year or two shy of my falling in love with Ivy, and at that point I was still terrified of most dogs.  But this dog was legitimately terrifying, almost a caricature of a junkyard dog, lunging and barking and hurling himself at the chain-link gate, in part because he had nothing else to do.  All I thought at the time was that I didn't like going to that particular house and looked forward to moving on to my next client, sweet Mr. Flores (R.I.P.) who was always delighted to see me and loved to talk baseball.  But walking through our lovely neighborhood with my
Lucky us.
spoiled dogs yesterday, I suddenly thought of that poor creature who had not a blade of grass to roll on, no toys, no training except perhaps to kill, no companionship and probably no love.  He was a living alarm system, bless his heart.  Then for two weeks in a row no one came out no matter how I honked and how the dog barked, in which case we're allowed to give the meal to a homeless person, and then the house got taken off my route.  I wonder what became of him.
     And now let's end with a dog at the opposite end of the spectrum, my parents' year-and-a-half-old Micajah.  He has had great training from a lady named Stacey who comes to my parents' house, patrols a deer-filled property but is protected from the road by an underground electric fence, entertains and is doted on by the residents at my grandma's nursing home and goes everywhere with my mother.  Here he is doing his "wave," tongue out in anticipation of his treat.  Life should be so delicious for every dog.

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