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|
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|
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.