Sunday, October 28, 2007

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad (Christine Kane)

I saw the accompanying cartoon on my friend sharon's blog and, given the topic of today's post coupled with my love of all things Oz, just had to borrow - it's so appropriate!

Okay, I said I would talk about my dog one of these days - meet Rocky Raccoon, my Shih-Tzu (who my friend Brian calls "a piece of sh*tzu... :-)

We bought Rocky from my friend Kimmie when he was three months old (twelve years ago), because it turned out her boyfriend was allergic - actually, we brought him home to spend one night as a trial basis, which has turned into over a decade of mutual love. The first night here he fell into the swimming pool... which he still gives a very wide berth when he's in the backyard - he earned his name because of the black raccoon mask marking across his otherwise white face... and he looks like a cross between an Ewok from Star Wars and Gizmo from the movie Gremlins. We quickly learned his floor-length coat wouldn't be practical in this household (or this heat) so we gave him a puppy cut in the first few weeks we had him, which we've maintained ever since - so much easier...

I was one of those moms who said we'd *never* have a dog - now I can't imagine what we'd do without Rocky. It's typical of the breed to be loyal to everyone in the household, not just one particular person - he loves my husband for the nightly walks they share, my son Robby for feeding and watering, my daughter Sarah because he can jump up on her bed and sleep, my son Eric for playing fetch and rough-and-tumble and me for cuddling/scratching/petting while I'm reading.

I've always called Rocky "the best dog" because he hardly ever barks, he's loving and attentive and he rarely has an accident - just recently we realized his age, took note of the breed's lifespan (11 - 14) and began to get a bit melancholy. He still acts like a puppy, so it's hard to reconcile the equivalent in dog years - I imagine we'll soon have to prepare for the day he leaves us but I just can't do that right now, preferring to enjoy the time we have left...

Another friend sent the following essay not too long ago... and I set it aside just for this occasion - I really do love my Rockstermuffiin... <3

P.S. The book for today's post is Kathy's choice for our mid-December discussion group gathering - K has labs, so she knows of what she speaks!

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

~ When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

~ Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

~ Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

~ Take naps.

~ Stretch before rising.

~ Run, romp and play daily.

~ Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

~ Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

~ On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

~ On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

~ When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

~ Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

~ Be loyal.

~ Never pretend to be something you're not.

~ If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

~ When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
[ Added 11/13/07: On the flip side, I just read the following in a forwarded e-mail and had to share: Handle every situation like a dog. If you can't eat it or hump it, piss on it and walk away. ]

SONG: Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad by Christine Kane

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog by John Grogan

POEM: Dharma by Billy Collins

The way the dog trots out the front door
every morning
without a hat or an umbrella,
without any money
or the keys to her doghouse
never fails to fill the saucer of my heart
with milky admiration.

Who provides a finer example
of a life without encumbrance -
Thoreau in his curtainless hut
with a single plate, a single spoon?
Gandhi with his staff and his holy diapers?
Off she goes into the material world
with nothing but her brown coat
and her modest blue collar,
following only her wet nose,
the twin portals of her steady breathing,
followed only by the plume of her tail.

If only she did not shove the cat aside
every morning
and eat all his food
what a model of self-containment she
would be,
what a paragon of earthly detachment.
If only she were not so eager
for a rub behind the ears,
so acrobatic in her welcomes,
if only I were not her god.

QUOTE: "If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two of them." ~ Phil Pastoret


  1. Thanks for your thoughtful reminders of dog days remembered. (This is yet another benefit of receiving reminders when blogs post Billy Collins poems that are new to me).

    Our family's best friend was Mick, a cocker spaniel with amazingly long hair and a droopy tail that it never occurred to us to cut. He loved us all equally, with warmth and thoughtfulness.

    During my teen years I often kept late hours, sneaking downstairs into the pitch darkness long after the family was asleep. Mick would be somewhere in that night near the bottom step, also asleep. But he would awaken the moment my slippered feet would begin their descent. I'd hear his welcome; a slow, soft thump or two of his tail on the rug. I'd make my way around him (no need to further interrupt his sleep) and head for the typewriter in the dining room for some midnight writing. After a few minutes, I'd hear Mick padding his way toward my typing...and soon feel his snout resting companionably on my right foot.
    We'd continue that way for as long as I could manage to keep that foot in place.

    I remember appreciating Mick's friendship on those the lonely nights, and regretting when I finally had to move that foot and awaken him. He'd then slowly arise, lazily shake himself, and pad back to his spot on the carpet in the the other room. I'd continue my writing, warmed by his love. Even now, he's a reminder of how much expressions of unconditional love can mean.

    While Mick remains somewhere within me, those warm memories need the prompt you provided. Thanks for bringing such thoughts of love back across the years.


  2. Hey, Skip ~

    Thank *you* for sharing your memories of Mick - I also keep "vampire" hours and Rocky is always right by my side. He even has a doggie purr when I pet him (half sigh/half smile) - I love that guy, and he loves me right back... unconditionally, as you so perfectly stated...

    You're a wonderful writer - please let me know if you have a blog or website where I can go to read more... :-)