At one a.m. she began crying. I slipped on a robe, opened the crate and carried her downstairs and outside into moonlight. The night was very quiet. She sat up, looked around, followed me, circled my shoes, rested her head upon the toe, came after me again when I called her name softly and finally peed. Upstairs again, I lay flat on the floor, my head on Wolfie’s bed and lifted her onto my chest. She listened to the beating of my heart and she rose and descended on my lungs, full and empty. After a few seconds she put her head down and stopped moving. When I transferred her to her crate, she struggled, but I discovered that if I stuck my entire head inside, I did not have to restrain her by holding her. She tried to climb over me, but then took deep draughts of my hair and very soon, she dropped into the back and lay still. Repeat at three. Double dare you again a little after five.
Why do we do this?
Luna was born on July 1st. She is newly ours, a new Border, a newly-minted girl. She has four all white legs, a tail that is three quarters-white and a spread of white again that begins on her nose and flows into the top of an hourglass figure on her forehead. She sleeps, plays, pees, shits, eats, investigates everything and tries O O O so hard to woo Wolfie who has shown himself to be patient and calm when she jumps onto his head and licks his chops. We have begun training and have walked the long field, Wolfie pacing me in the corn, Luna on leash gamely rabbit-hopping her way through the tall grass.
She is not a child. She is an animal, the third we have invited into our home. If all goes well, she may live with us for thirteen or fourteen years. We will spend thousands of dollars on Luna’s health, food, toys and general maintenance. She will limit our mobility; the day we picked her up, we consciously gave up degrees of freedom.
Why do we do this?
Just as she is not a child, she is also not a toy. She is alive and therefore mercurial. In creating the unexpected she breaks up every day inertia. There is pleasure to be had in her capacity for surprise.
Responsible dog owners train their animals to have manners, to not be a nuisance or a danger to others; the irony of one animal directing another is not lost on me, but as she matures, her conditioned responses set in motion by me will evolve. As we spend hundreds of hours together, my whistles, hand gestures and one word commands will progress beyond simple, binary instructions on which actions she should perform. We will begin to respond to each other intuitively and emotionally. She will condition me. Our separate perceptions will weave together. She will try to read me. I will try to read her, and thus we will experience the complex enjoyment that comes from growing intertwined.
There is pleasure to be had in her innocence. She is an existential-free creature who carries no knowledge of dread. She does not know that she will die. With her, I can enter the space of the present. Her unreflective life makes me feel more alive.
Dogs gives us another outlet for our affections. Many people live successful lives without receiving love, but to retain any degree of emotional equilibrium, I think we have to find others to whom we can offer our love. So Luna huddles in my arms, falls asleep with her nose in my hair, runs to me when I return after an absence. I speak her name, stroke her fur, and look into her eyes which look into mine. We do not need to name these actions. They_just _are, and we both gather better rest because of them.
Luna and the Wolf
She knows her name. She turns and cocks her head, and I look at her and think of the years to come with both dogs walking rough fields in the cold and climbing steadily under green canopies wondering what we will see on this day.