The Joy of Having Dogs.

Life here at the Ocular Edifice is, more or less a circus of animals. There are the 5 chickens, which scratch randomly about their coop in an inoffensive and generally entertaining manner and deliver us enough green eggs to satisfy our needs and still have enough left over to give some to friends and neighbors. I suspect that at least a couple of them are finally past their egg bearing years, but they periodically cluck and squawk and strut about as if they have delivered, in the hopes that they will not end up in the soup pot.

Honestly, after all the years of defending them against the predations of the raccoons, possums, and skunks, I hardly have the inclination to do them in any more. As they pass into their golden years, they can retire in safety and comfort, no major medical, but at least no chopping block.

We also have Koi in the fish pond, which hardly count as pets except those still moments of sanctuary when I find that gazing into their slow languid world brings me back to myself and calms my spirit. Of course the raccoons like them also for different reasons and the battles there have been wild and harrowing.

Recently, the worst interloper there has been a regal and dignified Great Blue Heron. On Christmas Day, I happened to look out my back window just in time to see this extraordinary bird standing by the frigid pond. It turned and gave me this confident look with the tail of my largest Koi sticking out of the corner of its mouth, and then it tossed its head up, gulped down the bright yellow tail and flew away.

A couple of weeks ago I got a large plastic Great Blue Heron decoy that was supposed to scare the real one away, but the morning after placing it, my pond was once again graced by the true feathered monarch and I lost an unknown number of fish. The damn thing sits up on the roof of my teahouse and waits until the coast is clear and then drops down like a jet coming onto a battleship. I would be more upset, but the bird is so beautiful that I have mixed emotions. I suppose I am tithing to the Bird God.

We have the three cats, Ruby the strange little Manx, Izzy of the enormous tail, and Henry who went from being a tiny little orange kitten, to being the Godzilla of felines. He appears to have a neighborhood route and is being fed at more than one household. On his way back across the street from his third lunch of the day, he looks like a stout orange Bulldog ambling along.

Then, there are the dogs… There is of course Murphy, the Half Blind Devil Dog who is half Wire Hair Terrier and Half Pit Bull Chihuahua, I suppose you could call him a Wire Hair Pihuahua or perhaps a Chit Bull, but in any case, he is the trouble maker of the bunch and although he has limited eyesight he is irrepressibly happy. There is the loyal Angus, an Australian Shepherd who does not like to be far from people and makes, when he is happy, the most embarrassingly human groans you can imagine.

Lastly, there is Tucker, a huge and gentle Rottweiler mix that lays her head in your arms like a watermelon and stares up at you with incredible trust and devotion. She can be shy at first, particularly of men, but the moment she decides you are one of the clan, she will sit on your foot and lean into you like a strong warm wind. She is so large and temperate with her awkward grace and her enormous questing nose, that my love for her can be almost painful.

Tucker has a generous nature and allows Murphy, who is a third her size to catapult about the house thinking he is the biggest dog on the block unless there is a bone in contention in which case, we discover that size really does matter. I find it strange sometimes to have a pet that is so large that if she wanted to eat you, she could, yet chooses to lie on the couch next to you with her head in your lap.

At night when we sleep she will climb up on the bed and cuddle against us with her head at our feet and her hind legs towards the top of the bed… and then… Unfortunately, she will sometimes pass gas.

I mean, all the dogs fart now and then. Murphy likes to get up on the couch and look innocent when he fires one off and it would be a lie to say that they are not potent and disruptive. Angus is subtle and we are rarely sure it is him, but Rottweilers are special. The first time it happened, I was in a deep sleep and the first hint I had that something was wrong was when my breath caught in my chest and my nose began to burn. I awoke in a kind of confused panic almost unable to breath as if I had been thrown into an icy lake. Uhn! Uhn! Uhn! I gasped, with each syllable getting weaker as air went out, but could not come back in.

Tucker was laying, stretched out on the bed almost as if she were a cannon pointed directly at my face. Pow! The smell invaded my dreams like a flash flood crashing down a dry and dusty riverbed. I come clawing up out of sleep in a desperate attempt to escape what appeared to be a horrible nightmare and the menagerie of sleepers explode off the bed. Murphy, thinking that the Raccoons have arrived in force, bolts out the door barking and Angus leaps off the bed and begins to jump up and down in place like a just released Jack in the Box.

The cats scatter like cockroaches caught in the middle of a floor when the lights come on and I make a break for the bathroom… When I venture back into the bedroom and turn on the light… Tucker is still laying in the middle of the bed, stretched out like a small horse, she just barely opens her eyes a little, gives a big sigh of contentment and goes back to sleep.

2 Responses to “The Joy of Having Dogs.”
  1. Thanks for the introduction to the fur bunch…described their appearance, temperament, behavior efficiently and effectively. You write well. (even if I didn’t like animals, that statement would be true). “cats scatter like cockroaches” – great phrase: really portrays the scene. Enjoyed that 5th paragraph about the heron.

  2. Kate says:

    Ha! This sounds exactly like our house! And Murphy looks suspiciously like a Jack Russell Terrier. They are smart little suckers. Are you sure he hasn’t been pulling the wool over your eyes thus while time? Ours, for example, is always trying to convince us, that in our impending senility, we forgot to feed him. Regardless, a fun post to read. Sorry about the fish!

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