Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Monday, June 3, 2013

3-31-13 RMB Idler: Exceptional Canine Teachers
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
After eating dinner and wrestling with Misty to give her the few precious minutes of play she craves each night, okay maybe I crave it too, I just read the story “A Courtly Soul”, your contribution to the book I’m not the Biggest Bitch in this Relationship: Hilarious, Heartwarming Tales about Man’s Best Friend from America’s Favorite Humorists.
The Courtly Soul was Idler, a foxhound and friend. I like the lines “Idler taught me with exquisite patience.”  and “He forgave me my misconceptions.”
My exceptional canine teacher was Lady, a small, tan German Sheppard collie mix. She came into my life when I was twelve and she was ten weeks old; stayed with me for sixteen years; saw me into adulthood, not an easy transition in my case. When I thought of leaving the here and now at seventeen, she was my last tie here until I realized she would be cared for by my mother better than I could care for her at that point. I sometimes felt the dog was more important to mom than I was.
As a matter of fact, the night I was told to get out, I tried to take Lady with me and mom, who did not have her wits about her enough to deal with me, pleaded with me to leave Lady. Go ahead and toss your daughter out, but the dog must stay! Maybe I wasn’t far off in assuming my rank.
Not sure of where I was headed, I left Lady knowing she was in good hands; knowing she would look after mom too. She did and waited patiently for our family drama to melt; for me to take her back. I don’t fault mom, Lady was more than an exceptional dog; more than just a member of the family; she was an important link between mother and daughter; Lady took on the task as caretaker of our fragile relationship.
I sometimes brought Lady with me when I followed my friend, not a dog person. When I tried to explain that she could communicate with this dog if she tried, she gave me another of those looks that said “you are really nuts, you know that”. Then one night while I worked, she watched Lady for me because puppies were due any day.
This was a couple of years after I told her she could communicate with this dog. I don’t know if she ever tried, but that I night when I walked in the door she let me know I was right. Lady told her she was going to have the puppies and she did.
When she had tried to get Lady to move, Lady gave her a look that said “I can’t. I’m making a place for the puppies. It’s time.” What shocked her was how gently Lady said it, how clear the words came through Lady’s eyes and movements even though she made no sound; how the dog beckoned her in to help arrange blankets.
From then on, she was much more communicative with Lady and Lady in turn perked up around her. With a wag of her tail, Lady would look at me and toss her nose towards my friend, practically smirking “she gets me now.”
Bless the Idler’s and the Lady’s of this world,

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