E. is in Iceland—where else--and L., trying to beat the heat, had arranged
tennis on a Sunday at some ungodly hour. I woke thinking about Bob Dylan’s,
“Don’t think twice, it’s all right." Dylan doesn’t sing, “When the chickens
cry wolf... at the break of dawn…” But they do. Chickens, I mean.
“We’re starving here.”
“My belly's disappeared.”
“The crows are coveting my eyeballs.”
“I said the crows…”
“Cheddar, has anyone ever told you you’re weird?”
“Keep shouting girls, doesn’t matter what.”
“Make some noise.”
“It’s our only hope.”
“Rescue may come.”
It was like morning on the raft of the Medusah, I imagine.
I rose and went to the window. There was Hamish, sitting quietly in front of
the sliding door, no doubt wondering why L. had put him outside and what fowl
emergency was slinking toward Bethlehem to be born.
(Yes, that’s me showing I know Yeats)
Hamish gave one single woof and stopped.
“Best I can do, ladies… all I’m allowed. Alpha doesn’t go for barking."
“Very fine contribution, though."
“We can’t see round the corner. Is there any hint of divine intervention where
you are?” “Motion in the curtains possibly?”
Hamish looked up, spotted me. Molto waggo of the tail-oh.
And yeah verily, I did rise and feed them.
The one thing I do in response to global warming is hang my washing in the sun.
On all other fronts I’m as guilty as the next person—I drive, I fly, I leave
canvas grocery bags in the back of the car—but I do do the roundy roundy bit.
And wooden pegs. I was finishing hanging out my washing on the Siegfried line
yesterday while waiting for another dog to come. Some background: L. took
photos to work when first we committed to Hamish and after a pause for thought
one of her colleagues decided this was just the breed she wanted. By this time
all of the sibs had dibs on, so the colleague ordered from another litter…in
Kansas. She filled out forms and the breeder made decisions about which of the
pups would be right for her. She flew out collect. Extraordinary way to pick
a dog is my view, but it seems to be working out.
I had just hung up my last thick shirt—how weird it is to handle thick clothing
when the temperature is soaring into the nineties—when Cody arrived. Cody is
somehow short for “Kodiak" and my first impression was of a young bear. At the
end of a leash and in a chest harness was one growling, snapping hunk, thicker
and stronger than Hamish. Our dog ran away, sat on my feet, and then, deciding
even this wasn’t safe enough, hid behind my legs.
“Alpha, alpha, what, what, what?”
Rocky came to investigate, walked right up to the other dog. “Whose yard is
I quickly asked whether Cody was habituated to chickens.
“No, not yet. We have them but…”
I told Rocky that backing off might be her best bet.
“No, no. This dog needs to be taught a lesson."
“Not by you,” I said.
We got through and then the question was, with the mercury rising, whether any
of us had the energy to go up the road where dogs could meet on the neutral
bower ground. It seemed worth a try. Everyone got water and like Marines out
on patrol with the Army, we walked up either side of the street. Hamish, tail
down, kept glancing over. Cody strode forward.
My idea was to separate the dogs by a distance and allow them to decide whether
closing would be wise. Hamish went straight for the ivy, which always makes my
day. (A poo in the bush is worth quite a few in the hand). After business,
here he came and here came Cody, slowly and not quite so confidently. We
watched ears and tails and shoulders.
International pup-ism prevailed. One dog began running the inside circle; the
other played sheep. And then—here’s the important part—they swapped roles.
There was give and take. And then...all the things that puppies practice:
rolling, wrestling, running, panting.
So then the question was how much hanging out of the tongue was good hanging
out of the tongue? We erred on the side of caution.
Rocky was last seen chatting to the crow that has claimed our patch of firs, no
doubt crowing a bit himself. Cody went home. Quiet descended, the kind of
universal stillness that heat gives out.
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