Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dog Town

I’m in the air right now, but I’ll be on the ground in Los Angeles in an hour or two. Had a snowy ride to the airport this morning—hopefully one of the last snowy mornings we’ll experience in a while. I’ve actually dug (ha!) shoveling the last two days, but I’m ready for winter to stop. It’s a stupid season, especially in Nebraska, and the less winter we have, the less stupid the rest of the year will be.

Hubble came outside to help me dig out by trying to eat each shovelful I threw into the yard. And with his help I managed to get the driveway and sidewalks cleared for the second time in as many days. He gives me the same kinda help when I turn on the garden hose except that’s more of a drinking thing than an eating thing.

Best. Dog. Ever.

I was looking at some old photos yesterday, and saw little one-minute video from about three years ago. It must have been one of the first few days we had Hubble … right after I’d gone and gotten him from a farm northwest of town. In the video he’s super tiny, maybe just a little over two handfuls of fur and teeth, but he looks so much like he does today—same little dog face, dog nose, dog ears. It’s awesome.

He’s out in the backyard and the grass is still all mushy brown and sleepy looking. It’s probably like the first week of April, ’cause he was a surprise birthday puppy for Miles’ ninth. Co-staring in the video is our then sixteen-year-old lab-collie mix, Carl.

Other. Best. Dog. Ever.

Carl (rest in peace, buddy) was pretty slow and pretty rusty by then. She’d lost almost all her hearing, had doggie cataracts, and by then had had two of these episodes that the vet called “stroke-like symptom syndrome" and it made her hold her head crooked and veer to the left when she walked. She wasn’t very good at stairs anymore, either, and to get up or down the two steps out our back door she’d have to get up to a trot, ride out her momentum, and hope that she could keep her balance. It was pretty sketchy

When we brought Hubble home, though, it was like Carl was suddenly five years younger (that’s 35 years younger to you and me). She seemed to stand straighter, she was stronger, and as much as you can read a dog’s mood, she was so stoked. Super happy to have a puppy buddy, or puppy sibling, a newly adopted puppy son, or however she read the scene. And you can see it in the video. Carl is kind of hopping around on arthritic paws as Hubble literally runs circles around her, alternating between jumping up and punching her in the face with his puppy paws and bighting onto her ear hair and hanging on as long as possible before Carl whips her neck one way or the other and knocks hubble a few feet away onto his back. They used to do that for ever and ever—for what seemed like hours—and even with all his newborn energy, I remember that Hubble was usually the one who would poop out first and just kind of plop down right there in the muddy yard—Carl standing tall next to him, watching over him, the proud old matriarch.

Good dogs are unexplainably amazing, and because almost everyone has either lived with a good dog or broed down hard with someone else’s good dog, it requires no long-winded explanation. It’s sweet and that’s really all there is.

I miss Carl a lot. Still have her ashes. Haven’t figured out what to do with them yet. Maybe I don’t want to let them … I mean let her go. I know we have Hubble now, and know he got to spend some long dog days getting shown the ropes by one of the best, but maybe it’s time.

Once the snow melts, I’ll have Hubble help me find a soft sleepy spot out in the backyard, we’ll dig a hole, and we’ll let Carl ride out her ashy momentum right there where she goofed around and did some of her best work. It’ll be a good way to mark a spring and the end these snowy days.


Cheryl said...

It was nice to think about those "dog days". I miss Carl too, but I think you did a great job picking Hubble. The video tickles my tummy every time I watch it. Thanks, honey. Love you.

rfresh said...

The first time I broed down with a good dog was with Carl, in Carlsbad/Encinitas at the dog park back in 1998. He was super chill around other bad dogs. He could understand English and I think he knew that I was your little brother so we were cool right away. said...

The girl named Carl. Miss her. I remember when you guys lived over on South 18th Street and Carl and I would play catch in your back yard. She would endlessly chase after the tennis ball I flung out of that launcher thingy. When she just couldn't take it anymore she would plop herself down, calling for a time out with her slobbery baloney colored tongue hanging out the side of her mouth all covered in dirt. We would wait a short few minutes, maybe she had a drink out of the hose, getting her face all wet. We'd start again, her enthusiasm renewed. Always wanting to please me, finding the ball, bringing it back to me, wagging and wiggling, smiling at me awaiting the next chase.

jb* said...

Those are a couple of great dogs. I remember Carl helping us celebrate one of the early Ponca rides, she was really good at camping.