Bowsers, Revisited *
Dogs are cool people. I was raised in a household with nine kids, but no dogs. We had a dog all right, but not in the “house”hold, only outside. My folks figured there was enough chaos as it was, without throwing critters into the mix. So, even though we frequently joined our bowsers outside for the night, our doggies were not allowed to reciprocate, and join us under the same roof. After all, the temperature at night, in SoCal, was far more inviting outside, than inside, back in the pre-air conditioned 60’s.
When we moved up here to Bell Springs Road, my sistah gave us a mixed breed Australian Shepherd named G’Day. She was the sweetest little hound that ever you did want to be around, but she was an eighty-percent-outside dog, allowed in only at night, when the temperature outside, created the need for refuge. Even then, I trained G’Day to remain within the five or six feet radius of the door.
When G’Day took that final trip Down Under, we acquired Hazel, our golden retriever. She also remained within the immediacy of the back door, only she probably spent half of her life inside, most of the winter, and even times in the fall and spring, when things were dicey (Remember Dicey seventh graders?). Of course, the boys thought I was inhumane, because Hazel was not allowed to roam within the house, but I just had my childhood attitude about dogs in the house, getting in the way.
Then came the current Australian shepherd, Clancy, no mixed-breed he, but a pure-bred merle, who is exquisitely beautiful. He broke the kitchen door barrier, and became a full-time resident in the house, until such time as his thick fur jacket, makes it imperative that he seek the shade of the north-facing side of the house, where he burrows into the cool soil along the foundation, and snoozes.
And for the grand finale, we have Dozer, our English Bulldog. He actually belongs to Lito, but when he first arrived, he brought the series of lightning strikes, known locally as the 2008 Mendocino Lightning Complex, with him. Talk about an entrance! There were 129 fires in Mendo County alone, half of which I am sure, Lito and Benny extinguished on their own, but that would be the dad in me. I admire people who risk their lives, so that maybe my house might stand to see another winter. Allow me to assure you, when one of those 129 fires started near Leggett, and headed for us over the course of those long June days, it left us slightly off-balance, with a lingering sense of doom. Nothing brings on that impending sense of doom, like ashes falling all around you in the blistering summer heat.
Dozer not only roams the house as he pleases, he also-gasp!-sleeps on our bed at night (and whenever he darn sure wants.) How that happened, I don’t have a clue, he boldly lied. Actually, when he first came, he was still a pup, and well, he, uh, whined and howled, and whimpered and did what puppies are programmed to do, and our hearts went out to the little guy. He ended up on the bed.
That was when he was this cute little butterball. Well that butterball has become a lard-butt. Fifty-three pounds of dead weight, often strategically located between the two of us, :( , as he snorts, snuffles, snerts * and snores his way through the night. Trying to wrestle enough of the blankets away from under him to cover me, is a battle I would rather leave to the Marine Corps. I know it leaves me battle-fatigued.
As the paradigms continue to shift for me, after emerging from the mist of my 48 years of panic attack syndrome, * dogs have transmogrified from “dogs” to “pals.” I would venture to guess that most of you already place “dogs” in this category, but I am a recent convert. I now view my two bowsers as pals. To not walk them up to the top of the driveway each morning, about a twenty minute round trip, spitting defiantly into the throes of a hurricane, should that be necessary, would be heresy.
You know all those years I read “Where the Red Fern Grows” to you guys? Well, as much as the story sells itself, I had to feign enthusiasm for Old Dan and Little Ann, as “dogs.” I remember a revered colleague of mine, relaying her inability to keep from crying when, well you know when. I never had issues with that, while reading aloud to every sixth grader, who fell into my clutches.
Well guess what? Recently, the new me went to my pool room bookshelf, and snagged one of my copies of WTRFG, and I did another read. And I have to tell you this. I could NEVER read that book out loud to you again. I would be crying like a baby.
* I did a piece from Ireland, entitled Bowsers, which chronicled my encounter with Nell, the village dog You can reach it here: http://markyswrite.blogspot.com/2011/09/ireland-bowsers.html. If you were to hunt for it on my blog, go to September. In the twelve days I was there, I wrote 34, 500 words, to attempt in some willy-nilly manner, to convey the depth of my emotion, at being in this tiny jewel of a magic kingdom.
* Don’t try this on your own, folks, but this word just fits perfectly here, even if I can’t find the stupid thing in any dictionary in my house.
* I wrote about freeing myself from panic attack syndrome, in a piece called "Six Days a Week." It is the first thing posted on my blog. I wrote it in a day, last March, and have since written everything on my blog, more than two hundred and fifty pieces, many of them 25 or 30 pages.