Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dogs and spy novels


I would never try to pretend I don't have an addictive temperament, oh no. When I get into things, I always want to go all the way in. I have Pluto in my first house, opposing my Sun and Moon. If you know anything of astrology, this will explain my natural intensity.

I know this about myself, hence I'm pretty careful most of the time - these days. I wasn't always careful about how much I drank, for instance, or my caffeine intake. I was a total pot head for years. Over time, because I'm old, also due directly to Chinese medicine, it's not that hard to curb myself.

Except …

A few years ago, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, a month-long program in fiction writing. The idea is to write 50,000 words in one month. Lots of people give it a go, trying to bust through writer's block or grease the gears of writing. I don't even read fiction so I thought it would just be fun. I wrote a spy novel. My heroine was Vega, a super spy whose Achilles heel was the fact that she couldn't control her facial expressions, hence she could not lie. The novel was named The Tell.

Fun, hey? Ummm … Instead of being a lark, NaNoWriMo became, for me, a bender of writing. I stopped hanging out with friends so I could write, I stayed up late, I got up at 5:00 a.m. so I could write, write, write. It was bizarre! I was flying high on NaNoWriMo.

After the month was over, I re-read the novel - it SUCKED. So funny. Since then I have not participated and will not participate again, no way. NaNoWriMo was crack. Whoa.

The other addiction I can't curb is my obsession with dogs. This isn't with all dogs, just the dogs who come under my care. I think of course of the Gold Puppy for whom this blog is named, Jake. He became, over his long lifetime, my everything. He was my best friend, walking partner, roommate and spiritual community. When he died, a friend said he was the greatest love of my life. What a sobering thought, though she was right - he was. He really was.

Since he died I have entertained the idea of getting another dog. The idea never got beyond the entertainment stage, not only because of the obsessive attachment I had for Jake, but because the day he died was by far the worst day of my life, way worse than any horrible thing that has ever happened to me. I've had a lucky life, but I've gone through some shit, of course. But nothing has ever come close to being so awful. I will not experience that again.

The dog staying with me for a few days right now is, and is not, like Jake. He has short blond hair and Chinese fortune cookie ears, but he's much smaller. Also, he's not crazy, he doesn't chew things, he doesn't worry. And he's a snuggler. Jake liked a bit of physical contact but then we would go off on his own. This dog loves being petted. Presley is an excellent dog! Already I am entranced. I wish to spend every second with him. I can feel the obsession sprouting in my heart. I will see clients this afternoon and I need to get down to Eastern Market to buy something for dinner. I find myself wishing I didn't have to be separated from him even for a few hours. I'm telling you, I have a problem with dogs!

Spending the day with Presley yesterday I was reminded - of course - of my obsessive relationship with Jake. I grieved for my old dog, also for the era of Jake, much of which was extremely difficult. I was a wreck all day. Presley stayed close, snuggled up next to me and did not judge me for crying.

This morning I'm clearer, as if a storm passed through me. It was a storm of grief. It seems to have done what it needed to do, thank goodness, because it was not pleasant!

I'm grateful for the years I spent with Jake. He was one of the greatest teachers I have ever had. But do I wish for another dog? I do not. Jake was my dog of destiny. He was The Dog. Living with him was a canine bender that lasted nearly 14 years. I love and honor him, but just as I won't do NaNoWriMo again, I will not have another dog.

It's a relief to settle the open question of whether or not to look for another dog. Thank you, Presley!


ellen abbott said...

I can relate. Not the obsessive nature but one dog was enough for me I think. She was the best of all possible dogs and I still haven't gotten over how her life ended. Will bring me to tears even now if I think on it too long. My sister's dogs are here staying for a week. And I care for them the best I can but they don't make me want another dog.

Reya Mellicker said...

So glad to be on the same wavelength!

Anonymous said...

Had this conversation with a neighbor last week. Had not seen him walking his old dog as usual, and found out that the time had come to release the dog from pain and suffering. He had the dog for 14 years and the grief was unbearable for him. My husband commiserated with "That's why I won't get a dog" and he nodded sadly and said "...I don't think I'd get another one".

ain't for city gals said...

I can't help it....I still want another dog! They just bring so much joy to our lives. And though the sorrow is hard at the end I think of the words of the song "You could have missed the pain...but you would have missed the dance" and there is a lot to be said for that in all things...

Steve Reed said...

I remember your novel-writing adventure! You were head-over-heels for that project. Even if it sucked it was probably good for you to dive in and just see what you could produce.

As for a dog, I don't want to try to change your mind -- but I can tell you that after the pain of losing Ernie and Ruby, there was a period where we had to live dogless. Having Olga now is an absolute joy. I think the pleasure a dog brings day to day, for me at least, outweighs the unavoidable trauma that comes with their demise.