“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, June 13, 2012

Part II: Day 56: Watch the House!

When Zoe first came into my life I got a lot of my first lessons in dog parenthood from Doug, my sister's husband.  He could tell from looking at Zoe, even when she was only a little twelve-pound bundle of tail and paw, that she had a lot going on in her head and that she needed a job.

"When you leave the house, just say, 'Watch the house,'" he told me.  The implication was that when I left her to go to work, I wasn't leaving her for long, and I was entrusting her with an important job.  The implication was that I'd be back, that this was just a brief good-bye.  "Dogs have separation anxiety or they get destructive when they're left alone for two reasons.  Either it's because they don't get enough exercise, or it's because they don't feel needed.  Working dog breeds like Zoe need both."

Zoe's main job is to watch me, just as my main job is to watch her.  But she is possessive of our house, and when I'm not around for her to manage, this work distracts her, I hope, and gives her a sense of purpose. 

We never asked for a watch dog, never felt the need to scare people away from the house, but we like that Zoe feels useful.  She sits at her post outside the door and supervises the construction project going on there as men work on our house.  She rests under the deck when she needs a nap or it gets too hot, then bolts out like a shot when another dog saunters past her domain without her prior authorization.  She alerts us to the presence of groundhogs, porcupines, and foolhardy cats.  We know when the UPS guy arrives or a friend or the pizza guy because she is always on the job.

So now I have to be away from her for three whole nights.  The kind people running the Chautauqua Writing Festival were willing to break the rules and let Zoe be there with me the entire time, so at first my husband and I thought we would attend the conference as a trio.  But I am going to be working all day until bedtime, and we decided it would be better for her if she sticks to her routines at home for a few days longer.  She and my husband will arrive on Saturday.

I'm planning to drive away this morning while she's on the gentlemen's walk because it's so hard and painful to say good-bye, even for only three and a half days.  But if I'm still there, packing, I'll say, "Watch the house!  I'll see you soon.  Watch the house!"

Zoe says, I don't remember authorizing this random person and dog to shuffle past our domain

I look forward to meeting you in this corner again soon.


  1. She will come to you and US! in NY. Yay!

  2. Hi Natalia! Just catching up; good to see Zoe is at her post. Abbe pretends to be a watch dog, but often is a little, um, "slow" on the uptake. But once she's alert, she barks like big dog, then wags her tail like crazy.