Friday, January 30, 2009

Snapshot: Puppy Prozac

My dog is depressed. Too much moving from place to place. Georgia for most of the holidays, some with me, some without while I was in Colorado. Children there. Rabbit. Life in all its wonder. Gone somewhere every other weekend and more. Mid-week trip to NC for dinner with a daughter. I suspect she (the dog) is uncertain whether I live in this apartment or my Jeep or a variety of houses she calls home on any given weekend. Just as dogs have a way of cheering us when the world is at its worst, so there is nothing much more mood killing than a clinically depressed canine.

But Wednesday she met me at the door with wagging tail. And so we went for a short walk and a longer sit and contemplation.

Snapshot: Grey, low clouds scudding across the sky, driven up creek by a stiff, 19 mph breeze that makes brisk the unseasonable 66-degree, late January day. Low tide and sheets of algae lie exposed in the muddy bottom of the marsh, flapping like so many St Patrick's Day parade flags. Still in coat and tie from teaching, I turn a chair to face the wind and rest a glass of Gentleman Jack on the pier rail. The wind, not enough to force a squint, yet enough to fan a tie and jostle hair growing long enough finally to feel such a thing, drives down the marsh grass and rattles the leaves and empty branches of a winter creek bank. Repeatedly, a Husky buries her face in my lap and pushes in, her version of hug, and I rake long, firm, strokes of fingertips down the length of her back and up again, massaging a mass of too husky a Husky through fur thick for winter. She doesn't play fetch. She doesn't play tug of war. She's been canine long enough now to have forgotten her past life as a supermodel, but having early disdained the distractions that other dogs delight in and having started life too little loved before her initial rescue from a chain that had worn a raw ring round her neck, she doesn't know how to play. But she knows how to love, and knows that she prefers company to solitude, and knows her life holds too much of the latter and too little of the former of late. And so she nuzzles in with more Husky hugs while the wind bristles gray fur and clouds alike and algae flags flail.

What she really needs is some Puppy Uppers; life is Doggie Downer enough for her.

Saturday Night Live - Puppy Uppers

"Puppy Uppers pep up your pooch." "Doggie Downers: Mellows out your mutt."

Two phrases stuck in my mind for 30 years now--apt testimony to the staying power of alliteration.