Living in a Dog House

It’s still the first house; it’s still the first memory. Meanwhile in this, presumably my LAST house, the floor is covered in dog pads (left over from Lily T. Wolf), not because the puppy, Mindy or Dusty is incontinent, but because I have an extremely loving and social outdoor kind of puppy with strong pack/herd instincts. If she has a really nice lilac branch it MUST come in to be pulverized. If she’s finished digging a nice hole, she has to bring in the muddy feet. If she has a card board box she’s recently shredded, it must come in so we can all appreciate it. Every wet, muddy and dilapidated toy.

My houses — since 1987 — have all been like this. In 1987, Truffle came to live with me — my first puppy — and that was the beginning of bi-species decorating.

Truffle and Molly in the Medicine Wheel 1992 or so.

Truffle and Molly in the Medicine Wheel 1992 or so.

I’ve never had a small dog, either. I see the convenience in a small dog — my neighbors across the street have a little Pomeranian. Their four foot fence is, from his perspective, a 12 foot fence. My mom’s poodles — one a toy and the other a miniature — were every bit the dog my big dogs are. Long ago I read that, generally speaking, larger breeds are more mellow and less neurotic and hyper than are small breeds. Over all, my experience has borne that out, and this giant puppy I have now is the mellowest of all.

Back in the early 90s? Late 80s? The book Women Who Run with the Wolves came out and my colleagues (women, mostly) were enthralled with the book’s message which was (here’s the blurb):

Within every woman there lives a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. She is the Wild Woman, who represents the instinctual nature of women. But she is an endangered species. In Women Who Run With the Wolves, Dr. Estés unfolds rich intercultural myths, fairy tales, and stories, many from her own family, in order to help women reconnect with the fierce, healthy, visionary attributes of this instinctual nature. Through the stories and commentaries in this remarkable book, we retrieve, examine, love, and understand the Wild Woman and hold her against our deep psyches as one who is both magic and medicine. Dr. Estés has created a new lexicon for describing the female psyche. Fertile and life-giving, it is a psychology of women in the truest sense, a knowing of the soul..

Every time I heard a group discussing this book, or someone brought it up to me, I had to laugh. Daily, in that era, I loaded my six big dogs into the back of my Ford Ranger and went to the hills to run. My wolves and me. It was not some attempt to get back to my atavistic roots (though some of my friends and colleagues who’d read this book thought it was). It was our joy. We were free in the open air. Sharing my house and life with big dogs has shown me — often — how strange people are, how second-hand our lives can be.

14 thoughts on “Living in a Dog House

  1. Beautiful post, Martha! I’m not able to visit every day, but yours is one of the sites I follow on a regular basis. It’s always fun to hear about your new Gentle Giant puppy, and she’s a very photogenic girl!

  2. Are you sure that your new dog is a dog and not something that smuggled its way into the States from Transylvannia. I take it the first photo is Bear, and that is a fast grower – but adorable. She reminds me of something from The Flintstones.

    • She’s a giant breed. At six months, she’s probably three months from full growth. Now she seems to be starting to fill out a little and is getting more muscular and less lanky, so maybe she won’t be a lot bigger. I’m thinking maybe 70 cm which is big enough. She’s definitely primitive. I could nick-name her “Bam Bam” 🙂

  3. We’ve had big dogs, little dogs, and medium dogs, often all at the same time. Terriers have a ton of personality per pound and hounds are smart and wildly quirky. The herding and guarding breeds are the most mellow, I think. They tend to be peaceful and calm unless something alerts them that it’s time go on duty. But ALL puppies are a ton of fun. Doesn’t matter what breed or size. Until they turn two, they are just hilarious.

    I have a new rug for the living room. It came rolled up in plastic. I got it a few months ago to replace the dogged one that we finally tossed into the trash.

    It is still rolled up in plastic. I think I’m going to give up on any rugs and just go with dog beds. The little dogs are getting old and having trouble getting onto the sofa, so they will like having beds that are easier to climb aboard. I’m getting Bishop his own crib mattress. I’m hoping it will help with the arthritis. We are trying to keep him with us, but so far, arthritis is winning. I guess we will see how these latest pain-killers affect him.

    • Mindy’s gotten relief from Novox and a weight-loss program. If she’s in a lot of pain, she gets a tramadol, too. She now WANTS to go on walks with us and though we have to go more slowly, we take her. Lily LOVED her dog bed. It made a LOT of difference to her so I always made sure she had one.

      This puppy is just amazing. Last night I woke up all scared about my surgery and I came out to the living room to read for a little while and try to get some perspective. Bear came running over and jumped up on the sofa as if her whole purpose in life was to calm me down. Today, Dusty was barking at nothing and clearly anxious. Bear came running in and went straight up to Dusty and touched noses with him. He stopped barking and relaxed. She thinks we are her flock.

  4. Bear is so darn cute. That photo of her and her cardboard, and what you wrote above…..I think she has some special powers. Definitely a special dog.

    • She really held that cardboard to her face and went to sleep. I’m just amazed at human breeding of this creature — it’s an old breed; at least 4000 years old and maybe even earlier. Their job is to keep their sheep or goats calm and out of danger. I can imagine those old guys so long ago noticing how one dog behaved that way and another behaved that way and then bred them. It’s cool to me in general that humans realized how dogs could help them. She’s definitely decided that while I’m her master, Dusty and Mindy are her flock and she is going to be sure we are always OK. Anyway, she wants to go walkies… She’s whining very softly out by the back door. 🙂

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