Once I had a DOG

This has not been a very challenging winter, weatherwise. I’ve not been snowed in, nor have I had to cancel an activity because I’m a chicken driving in snow and ice. I haven’t had to walk on slippery sidewalks nor crunched my way across heavily salted surfaces. But I detest this winter. Why is that?

I’ve never been a recreational snow bunny, hot for ski trails and tobogganing. I’m more the hot chocolate for breakfast type when finally I leave the messy  bed nest. I can get excited about hot buttered rum ( not a myth ) by the fire while watching the snow fall outside. That’s my idea of playing in the snow. It dilutes a snow storm to a spectator sport, but I’m okay with that.

I’m more of a looker. Snowfall is beautiful while it’s, well, falling.  I love the mysterious silence of it in the dark, the quiet crunch of it beneath my boots. How I used to frolic in the moonlight with my gorgeous big black standard poodle, an animal ecstatic about the stuff, yipping in short loud barks, expressing pure joy, his blackness bold against acres of white. In the morning, as the slope behind my back door was ice-caked, he’d slide all the way to the bottom and need to be carried back up the grade. My husband obliged. That man never wanted a pet. By the time I was done, we had one child, one dog, and two Siamese cats. We had one huge Saint Bernard for about five minutes when even I saw that was really pushing the limit. We got him from the SPCA. We sent him back, with apologies. The cats were so terrified they shed their pelts to a great degree and shuddered beneath beds.

The dog lived fifteen happy years, twice the usual length of life for that breed. I credit his active life style. A standard poodle has only two speeds: crazy fast, and sound asleep. Because we had an Olympic size pool, he swam three seasons out of four. Fit and fast, there was never a dull moment at our house. He’s been gone more than a quarter century now, and I still miss him. Ridiculous. I never had another pet and while sometimes I wish I had, it’s very late to consider another, and never again that breed. I’m not up to it.

His intelligence was staggering, his manipulative skills guaranteed I’d always be catching up. We went to obedience class together, where with regularity he’d make a complete ass of me. He was bored out of his mind there. Simon walked off lead at six months of age. I thought to compete in obedience trials with him but my instructor said don’t because he’d perform flawlessly only when he felt like it. That turned out to be true, and since being an ass in the charge of a dog was beneath my dignity, and since he took no pleasure in something so mundane, there was no point.

We ran in verdant fields of tall grass, chasing rabbits for fun, and enjoyed each other for seventeen years. He kept me fit and fast, too. My daughter said he was my boy and while he was a pesky substitute for a brother, she missed him when he was gone. He felt she’d deserted him first, off to college without him.

Do you know, I’m still tempted when I see a standard, which is often in my neighborhood where there are more than three to admire and befriend. Those dogs take good care of their people. There is something so wholesome about babies in prams, and toddlers clutching their moms, with happy poodles prancing along side in afternoon sun. I admire and fuss, and know them by name. It’s a hard resistance, given that just down the road there is a world famous breeder and his partner. I admire their progeny from afar, wistful and full of longing. That will have to suffice.



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