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.
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.