“If you go slowly enough, six or seven months is an eternity—if you let it be—if you forget old things, and learn new ones. Even a week can last forever.”
Rick Bass, Winter

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Part II, Day Four: Sadie and Zoe, the Love Story

Is there anything more euphoria-inducing than coming home and seeing your dog run toward you with joy? 

For me, the closest thing to that rush is to watch Zoe greet others in that ecstatic way: to witness her reaction when family comes to the door, or when we arrive at her home away from home.
Sadie waits patiently to get her toy fox back

She's been whining for the last hour. When I rolled down her window, she smelled the air and said, Hey, I know that smell.  I know those burnished leaves, that river, that lake, those road signs, that tint of sky.

Are we there yet?

We pull up to the house, and out comes Sadie, the saucy herding dog cousin with her big, pointy ears, and Sadie's people: my sister, Mira Bartok, and her husband, Dougie Pee.

Zoe charges into the house and finds the Amish basket I gave Mira for her birthday one year, where Sadie's plush toys live.  Out comes the octopus, the piglet, the chirping little fox, the black and white polar bear, but not plush burger, who is carefully hidden from Zoe when she comes, or perhaps it's not there because Zoe demolished it on another visit and I've conveniently forgotten.

Zoe runs around the house showing her cousin that she can help herself to what she wants, and Sadie promptly bites her in the butt, or tries to trip her.  Now that Zoe has three legs, Sadie finds new advantages where she can.

Zoe in front of the barn
Sadie has a great smil
Then they submit to their people's immature games.  We like to get them to wrestle.  Not, like, for money.  They don't have stage names.  They don't wear tights or capes.  And they don't hurt each other.  But for our version of pup pile-up, we get them to kiss (touch snouts), roll on their backs, mouth, and growl and grunt like wild beasts.  We could watch this all day and never be bored.

And then it's time for the afternoon walk.  First Zoe takes one of Sadie's indoor toys, the plush volleyball, and tries to get Sadie to chase her into the barn, the infamous barn where the music played on Mira and Doug's wedding day, and in front of which Zoe had to be bathed by her person, in a story that has become legend in these parts.  (See "Squeamish No More: Dog Bath at my Sister's Wedding.)  They swoop around the yard, circling each other, peeing competitively.

Then down the driveway, up the road a little, and into the woods.  For a short while Zoe has to be watched, because there's no guarantee she won't run down to the nearby farm to kill the chickens.  (Zoe has never killed a chicken, but dogs can turn into chicken-killers just like that, and we don't want to give her the taste for blood.  And now that I know, as of yesterday's visit to the integrative vet in Vermont, that chicken makes her too yang, well, there's an extra incentive, beyond being neighborly.)
They look most alike when they are begging for treats.

I love the companionable stroll

Who will shake more water on us, faster?
Sadie could herd horses, if she needed employment

We pass that patch of woods without trouble, and then head further along, to the stream.  Both dogs go down for a swim and a drink, then bound up again.  It's a beautiful spring day, but not very warm.  I'm just glad that it's too early for tick season.

Zoe waits several yards away for the horse visit to end
And eventually we visit the horse farm.  Sadie is excited to meet more four-legged creatures, and she runs over to tell the horses that she is queen of the hill.  Zoe, for all her alpha behavior with her cousin, hits the road.  She sees a lot of Amish horses where we live, and was once charged by a group of irate horses and donkeys who didn't appreciate the way Zoe had herded their friends, the migrating ducks, so she keeps her distance.

What I love most about these visits is how easily these dogs fall into their routines together, and how their routines become the structure for our days.  Meals.  Walks.  Dogs outside.  Dogs back in.  Dogs chasing each other for plush toys.  Dogs submitting to pup pile-up rituals, which means every creature on the floor to a sound track of wolfy grunting and sometimes keening.  We know the dogs love each other, and long to be close: they mouth and nip, and are wolf pups together.  And we know they compete for love, although there is no limit to the love we have on tap.  The dogs structure our days, and when we focus on them completely, time stops.

The story continues tomorrow.



  1. I think not. But I love the pics Douggie Pee took that are on today's post. Look at the way the heads are pointed in different ways: great composition. love love love