Recalling the great German novel, “Steppenwolf”, by Hermann Hesse. This is my son, Sam, with his alter ego, the wolf. The wolf, often thought of as the predecesor of the dog, is one of the animals that intrigues me the most. Sam is naturally independent and a loner which inspired the connection between his nature and that of the wolf.
Tag Archives: life
I heard the news just a couple of days ago about the recent death of a friend’s dog. Her name was Sophie and she was a Golden Retriever rescue, around 13 years of age. She had a “gimpy”, sore front leg that she favored for the last few months of her life and my friend had talked about getting a special ramp for her to walk in and out of her car. Instead of rushing into that expense prematurely my friend decided to take her to the vet first. It turns out Sophie had cancer. Taking into account her age and the pain she would most likely have to endure, Sophie’s mom had her put to sleep.
Now this might sound a little strange to the average person, but many of the dogs I know I consider as friends. Is this normal behavior for a dog-walker? I couldn’t say, but as with any set of friends, some are closer to me than others. I’ve known Sophie for as long as I’ve known my friend which is around eight years now but two months ago, for 7 days, Sophie and I got to spend night and day together. You see, Sophie’s mom is a pet-sitter/ house-sitter like me. She went on a long over-due vacation to Hawaii while I house-sat for her, took care of Sophie and picked up her dog-walking route on top of my own. It was a very busy, interesting week to say the least, but that’s a whole other story.
That week, Sophie often kept me company on my dog walks and errands and trips to the park. At night she slept on my bed, something I rarely allowed my own dog to do. Nero shakes the bed horribly in his sleep, hogs up the covers and snores like a mighty freight train. Admittedly, since that week with Sophie, I let Nero up on the bed much more often now. I think I missed her. I remember how every night I had to call for her, encouragingly, to jump up on the bed because even though she wanted to sleep with me she was shy about asking. Sometimes I had to give her a boost if her leg was painful. She was always respectful of my space and she was a quiet sleeper. In the mornings she enjoyed her cuddle time though. She waited patiently for me to awaken and when I petted her long, soft fur she would slowly move up the bed till her head was more level with mine, then roll on her back blissfully and listen to the loving things I would say to her. At her age she didn’t have much of an appetite anymore and I would have to feed her by hand. Sophie would look up at me and in those sweet eyes I often saw gratitude for the little things I did for her.
That night, when I heard the news of her death, I lay in bed thinking of her again, of the things she would do and of all the ways that made her the Sophie that I loved, and I wondered then if she had a soul like we do and, if so, where did it go? Because to know and to love a dog is to feel an emotional and spiritual connection with them. In life she was a sweet and loving and caring companion. I can’t imagine what will happen to her soul, or even mine for that matter when I die, but I would like to think that we go on and that maybe I will know her again.
This is a portrait of our dog, Nero, a black male Labrador Retriever with a beautiful spirit indeed. That’s me holding the lacrosse ball (his favorite) while holding the camera and trying to focus (yes, it was quite difficult). My teenage son, Sam, is in the background, evidently amused by my struggle to take this shot and by Nero’s obsession with pictured ball. Sam has a very special relationship with our dog and while Nero loves everyone in the family equally, these two are especially close.
What?! No story? Well, no, not today folks. Just a photograph. But not just of anyone, oh no! This is Dino, a very special Rhodesian Ridgeback who is near and dear to my heart. Is this not one of the most noble faces you have ever seen? I’ve recently been asked by Dino’s mom to take portraits of her dogs. Did I not mention that I am a photographer as well? I invite you to check out my portfolio on Flickr. Just click on the photo.
Outfitted in a black, hooded Patagonia anorak, jeans and high-laced waterproof hiking boots I found myself soaked and not a little miserable after just 20 minutes amidst the horizontal rain that Oregon is so well known for. Even with a hood, I could barely see through my rain-streaked, misted glasses. Ahead of me, tail high and wagging, nose to the ground sniffing vigorously and powerful limbs eagerly plowing ahead is my 11:00 on Wednesdays and Thursdays. She’s a stocky yellow Lab named Moorea and one of the sweetest tempered, most lovable dogs I’ve ever met.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this yet, but I’m a dog-walker. This is what I do which is why I was out in this weather in the first place. Still, I got to wondering, something I am apt to do on these dog walks, where was everybody? More specifically, where were all the dogs I usually ran into? Earlier this morning the dog park was a virtual empty lot as well. What happens to these dogs during our seemingly endless days of nasty weather? I began to imagine said dogs stuck inside their respective houses, noses pressed against their misted front windows, curious eyes searching up and down the street, patiently waiting, maybe in vain, for when their master would at last be there to take them for a walk, to their favorite place, dare they believe it, the park.
Ah ha, you counter, but you just admitted to being “miserable” and only there because of said profession. Admittedly, dog-walker/ pet-sitter is my chosen profession and feeling wet and chilled to the bone is not something that I relish ( I am originally from L.A. after all). But let us backtrack to the beginning of my story. There I was, trudging through muddy, water-mired streets… Actually, trudging may not be an appropriate description. Walking at a trot or maybe a brisk jog might be more accurate ( Moorea is very enthusiastic). Once we arrived at our destination I find a stick for us to play with. A tennis ball is completely out of the question as I learned the hard way a long time ago. The last time she got hold of a tennis ball I practically needed the jaws of life to extract it from her clenched grip. But I digress.
These walks are, as her mom informed me just the other day, the one thing she looks forward to. Her joy and exuberance are contagious too. She teaches me, as many of my other furry clients do, to find pleasure and beauty in the simple things in life and for this I am grateful. When we get home, after she charges into the house to her water bowl for some much needed hydration, she immediately comes to me and makes sure she gets her habitual hugs and kisses before I leave. Another important lesson: Give your loved ones a hug a day.