A long time ago my family inherited a dog named Lefty. I was in middle school. He lived outside with our slightly older dog Beau, a white German Shepherd who loved my father faithful and tried. Lefty and Beau ran around and enjoyed themselves out-of-doors for many years. Beau loved water, he loved water in a river, in a lake, in the kiddie pool, and from the hose pointed straight at him for as long as someone–anyone would spray. Lefty pretended he loved water, maybe because he saw how much attention Beau received for the quirk, maybe because he thought that’s what dogs did, but he did not love water. In fact, Lefty despised water. His dedication to pretending he loved water, in hindsight, drew me to be his person.
His person as in every dog has a person, one person. Not necessarily their “alpha” but the one they spend most of their years loving more than anyone else. Because of a soul connection. It would be later that I would admire Lefty’s admiration for me by following me into countless bodies of water.
When Beau passed away I had moved to college, but I was home when he died. My dad and I both cried that day. My dad was Beau’s person. He’s been the person for three dogs, now, all with B names. Lefty moped after that. He did not need to pretend he loved water, and he got lost in that territory, the really honest place. It can be dark.
I insisted I take Lefty back to my small east Texas college town. I said he would be happy with one-on-one attention. I don’t know what persuaded me to be so certain, a driving force with which to be reckoned. He came with me in my hand-me-down gold Geo Metro back to Cason street. He came everywhere with me after that, to the Library, to Geology lab, to parties, to friends’ houses, to the grocery, and swimming (yes, swimming). He was my dog as much as I was his person.
Until his passing, I never gave much thought about being the person for another dog again. We were content together, Lefty and I. When he traveled back over the rainbow bridge, my heart collapsed. The timing was perfect, though, I was moving to San Francisco and couldn’t find an apartment allowing a dog. My heart grows deep and sad just regaling this story now. I cried all night, I tried to sleep inside at my parents house the night he passed away, but couldn’t and I rested with his body in the back of my father’s truck. I laid on his cold hard body, sobbing instead of sleeping. A cat we thought had run away (whose amnion Lefty nosed after he was born on Cason Street) came back for the first time in months that night and slept with me in the bed of the truck. Good ole Guido. We buried Lefty in the back yard at my parents’ house. I buried my favorite childhood book Todd and Copper next to him. I wore his scratched royal blue bone-shaped metal tag on a necklace for a year after he died. I still keep the tag in a ceramic hexagon painted fish dish on the bathroom shelf next to my intact extracted wisdom tooth, an old typewriter W key, and a crystal.
Last winter we began to open the idea of a dog in our family. I got really clear about my intentions in April, just before Easter. We had been searching for puppies here and there, and once clarity washed over me–I wanted to adopt and rescue a puppy–our perfect dog showed up. Maeve was born in the mountains of central Washington with four siblings. Her ancestry is a bit of a mystery but we have two puzzle pieces: she is part Bernese Mountain dog and part Border Collie. She is a delightful mystery mutt and I love her more than I could imagine I would.
I have known her before. Our souls’ have been together before this life. I am uniquely drawn to her, and she to me. What a blessing! She has a strong inclination to please, looks deep into my eyes with a knowing about her. I am so in love!