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#6 ~ DOG is my co-pilot …

May 18, 2011

The Rev. Djuna Cupcake

It’s not easy to pack when there is a (very sad) 75 lb. dog sitting in one’s bag.

I had to look twice as I waltzed by the guest room en route from the office to kitchen for more coffee. Well, I’m not sure I waltzed at that time of the morn, I more likely was dragging in body, waltzing in mind, but no matter how I got from there to there, I did catch a large blur of black in the periphery as I passed the room. I was trying to weed out a passable lot of clothes-for-life-on-a-Grecian-isle from a hump of stuff piled on the bed.  The only place for my bag was on the floor.

And Djuna was sitting in it.

He frets a bit when ‘the bags’ come out … he knows well what it means. If I could take him with me – I would. In a heartbeat. But he is not a portable dog and will have to stay behind here on the farm to help Paul make sense of all of the chores and keep the animal-family in line.

If Paul is my soul-mate and the horses are my spirit …  if the cats are my familiars and the goats are a humorous conundrum …

Djuna is my heart.

He came to us almost 10 years ago. We’d been invited to a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with friend’s.

“Did you see the puppies?” Che asked.

Puppies?

I don’t even remember dinner. I only remember being smothered in a warm pile of 3 week old pups, all puppy breath and soft groans and grunts. I sat still, happily stroking soft puppy bellies, wondering what they dreamt about.

Paul and I decided on the drive home – after the pups were peeled off and I was dragged away – that it was time to bring a new companion into our lives. Old Lady Callie was aging and could use an intern – for all involved, it would be just perfect.  So I set my sights on a cute, fat little female, black with white tipped paws …

… who took no interest in me, whatsoever! I didn’t want another male dog.  I’d always been graced with the company of females, other than our rescued ‘terror’ Shorty and he never helped ‘male’ win over ‘female’ in my heart. Dear, complicated little Short-man.

3 weeks went by and each time I visited the pups (Often. Che started to wonder if I had moved in permanently.) I sought out that little girl, even though this other little black pup – a BOY – was the one to squiggle over to me to cover me in happy licks.  How blind was I?

When the day came to make ‘the’ choice I watched the pups from afar, now a pack of rolling, tumbling energy. I can watch puppies play forever.  They all were now were able to run about, albeit clumsily on their short, 6 week old legs and as I walked toward to squealing mass of delight looking for my little girl, here came that darned male pup, rolling head over heels as he tripped on his own paws.

And then he sat on my feet.

contemplating 'balls' at a young age ...

So – Djuna Cupcake came home with us. He was mentored by old Callie for the first year of his life, (In the dignified arts of ‘how to properly care for one’s Humans’ and ‘how to steal tomatoes from the vine and carefully pick berries from the brambles’) until she left us for those greener pastures.  He was schooled in the finer arts of dog play and general mayhem by the neighbors’ Jack Russell, dubbed Peenie,  who seemed to live with us much of the time for about 5 years … she taught Djuna how to dive through the cat door, which he did with great joy until he grew too large to fit any longer. He was taught how to behave properly by Mistress Lily, the Queen cat who always kept the dogs of the family in line, and because of his impeccable behavior he eventually earned the title of ‘honorary cat’.  The cats all love him.

Being born with the genes of both Border Collie and Labrador retriever has left Djuna with amazing intelligence, but also great conflict.  We joke that he’s got a bit of the Dr. Heckyll/Mr. Hyde syndrome going – Dr. Border Collie by day (all business, focus, job oriented) … Mr. Lab (mellow cuddle bug) by night.

Mr. Lab by night ...

But he has a job, and that keeps him happy. He keeps us in order, metes out our farm duties and shadows our every move. (Hey hey hey turn THIS spigot on! I have to keep you safe from this snake that looks like a hose!  Now … isn’t it time to turn out the Horse? How ‘bout I get pony for you? The birds the BIRDS let’s feed the birds – now!!! Want me to get that goat away from your roses?  Aren’t we supposed to be IN the car NOW?  And what about the BALL?)  When both Paul and I are home, he is more relaxed and will actually sleep in – on the bed – with whichever one of us gets to enjoy that pleasure. And sometimes we are dragging him off the bed, late for work!  Mr. Lab sticks around until about 10 AM, and then Dr. Border Collie is down to business until the chores are done and the dusk has settled.

He is quite smart.  He was able to figure out how to stuff 3 balls in his mouth at one time as a 6 month old. He worked on that one for a few weeks and happened to master it at the exact moment that I had the camera in hand.

We only saw him do that one more time and then he was on to the next challenge. He knows Greek. – Sit, please! Do you want to play with your ball now? Let’s go to the barn and see the horses!  Shall we feed the birds now? Now? Let’s go in the car!  –  All, in Greek.  He learned English far too quickly and because of his ‘all business’ nature, would anticipate our every move. So we started to spell words like ‘bird’ and ‘ball’ and ‘car’ … But then he learned how to spell.  So, as Paul and I are students of Greek, we started practicing our minimal skills on him.

But, well … now he knows Greek better than you do.

Djuna 3-balls

As you know, the U.S. has been under a strange sort of ‘Home Security Alert’ of varying levels and colors since 9-11-01.Well, Djuna has devised a sort of ‘Home Security Alert’ system of his own.  If both Paul and I are ‘in country’, meaning he sees us both here, at home on a daily basis, his threat level is quite low.  He knows for certain that we are both safe. NO worries.  If we go out and leave him behind, he will greet us at the door upon our return with his bowl, or one of his ‘babies’, a stuffie, in his mouth. Mr. Hedgehog who grunts, or Mrs. Duck who quacks.  This is ‘Baby level, threat 0’

But then, we move to ‘Sock level’.  If we are gone for a longer period of time, say we’re off to a gig, he will begin to fret just a bit – and then we move to ‘sock level, threat 1’.  He greets us with a pair of my socks in his mouth.

The threat level goes up from there to ‘sock level 2’, 2 socks … and ‘sock level 3’, 3 socks…

But if one of us is away, far away as Paul has been for this last week and I am about to be for a month, the level changes altogether. Not only is Djuna my constant shadow, if left behind when I go out for errands, a movie, to visit friends and must leave him behind, he will greet me at the door with MOST EXTREME SECURITY THREAT level – 3 socks AND a wad of my underwear in his mouth…

I know that he is thinking – very clearly – How In The World Can I keep This Stupid Human Of Mine Safe When I Cannot Be With Her Every Moment? He does not trust me on my own.

Don't bother my person, she is working ...

I’ve had to give him his own little basket of socks and discarded undies so he doesn’t abscond with and slobber all over my favorites.

Paul is home now, but I am packing to go off to take a long drink from my Endless Sea. I will recharge and heal, work on ideas for a new novel, laugh a lot and miss my loved ones, drink too much and float on my back on waters of warm glass, always looking up. I will feed and care for the furred street urchins with Djuna, my heart of hearts, and his kitties in mind.  Djuna is on Highest Security watch now, and cannot look at my packed bag without then looking at me with sad eyes that make my heart break.  And often, with a sock and several undies in his mouth.  Reminding me. He is good at that.

But I know that in days he will recover, he will realize that he still has a human here to care for. Paul and the rest of the clan will stay safe under the ever watchful eye of The Reverend Djuna Cupcake (yes, somehow he ended up with one of those certificated from the Universal Life Church … if you need someone to marry you …) and I will know that all is well in my world.

I will try to post something along my way, some notes from an endless sea …

Look up!

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. margaret permalink
    May 18, 2011 1:50 pm

    Kalo taxidi!

    Like

  2. May 18, 2011 2:19 pm

    ‘Can’t wait to read your next thoughts. Beautiful. Our black Labs are now 10 months old. We hope they live as good a life as your Djuna Cupcake. I believe they are really one dog with two bodies. Time will tell.

    Like

  3. Breelyn MacDonald permalink
    May 18, 2011 10:08 pm

    Love it mom – SO TRUE of him, you nailed it! 🙂 I just smile the whole time that I’m reading. Keep ’em coming, these are fun!!

    Like

  4. Eleanore permalink
    May 19, 2011 1:15 am

    I WILL get around to editing this at some point! I wanted to get one more post up before heading to Greece for a month so I wrote and ran and am now on my way. ACK! Thank you all for your sweet support – and should you see Paul, please ask him how Mr. Cupcake is faring!

    Like

  5. May 19, 2011 11:18 am

    Loved this post! Most of us dog lovers can relate … while getting ready for a trip, I had my suitcase open on the bed. The next thing I knew my German Shepherd, Nika, had jumped up and made herself comfortable on the upper half, while giving me “the look.” Talk about guilt trips, huh?! Enjoy the renewing spirit of the sea and keep the words flowing.

    Like

  6. Kate L. Wall permalink
    May 22, 2011 7:11 pm

    The vision of socks & underwear in mouth had me almost on the floor. How do animals decide these things? I get dolefully crying cats (so help me, one whines) — but when I talk to them, sometimes I get what sounds like a one syllable answer. Am glad spelling still works here! Enjoy the visit!!

    Like

  7. May 28, 2011 3:23 pm

    Thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable. Thank you! Have a great time! 🙂 R

    Like

  8. April 8, 2012 9:21 pm

    This is one of my favorite blog posts ever! And I already emailed my sister your description of Mr. Lab and Dr. Border Collie from another post. And he is so cute. Btw, I tend to stick with females myself ’cause our males tend to lift their legs in the house…

    Like

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