Wednesday, May 5, 2010

my dogs-part three

Little Annie

Our life was complicated for a few years after Finney. The kids asks for a dog but we hadn't the heart for it until one night Bern came home with Little Annie.

Annie was a Brezon Frize (totally misspelled) that Bern and her friend found wandering lost in Edgewood Park in New Haven. Sherry already had two dogs, so Bern brought her home to our house on Everitt Street in New Haven. She had been lost for a long time because when we cut away her terribly matted hair we found a harness under all the mats. We had no idea how old she was but she was so scared we couldn't let her go. We called her Annie--like little orphan Annie--and she loved us so.

It is a mistake to apply human feelings to dogs--they are dogs and we are humans, after all--but Annie was, I think, so 'grateful' to have been rescued from whatever it felt like to be alone and abandoned that she was endlessly showing gratitude. She seldom got out of accidental 'kicking distance' from one of us. She wanted to be up against our bodies all the time. She adored our children and even though she would hide when Josh's teenage friends came over (I'm convinced her 'days on the street' were made worse by adolescent boys) she never stopped saying 'thank you' to us.

I've never much liked little dogs, but Annie broke the mold. She had this ribbon like tongue that was always flashing out to lick a hand, a face, any part of us. She was a clown after she got used to not being on the street. We spoiled her terribly and she responded in kind--loving us beyond measure.

She moved with us to Cheshire and was so good about staying near that we, foolishly, would let her out to go to the bathroom, believing she'd never venture far enough away to be in danger. But one day she wandered into Cornwall Avenue and was hit by a car. Josh was in high school and there when it happened and almost beat up the poor man who hit her. I wasn't home so Bern took her to the Vet and the Dr. there rubbed her as he told Bern she was most certainly dead. She brought Annie home so I could touch her a last time and help bury her in our Pet Cemetery just past our deck. Cats and dogs and Guinea pigs aplenty and a rat to boot--about a dozen loved creatures rest there, near us.

The man who hit Annie was so upset he called Animal Control who came to see us a few days later with all the regulations about how to bury a dog--who knew there were such things? Or should be?--wanting to know if I'd done it right.

I offered to dig Annie up and show them and they left me alone. We buried her with her blanket and her bowl and one of her toys and wept and wept.

Sometimes the best things that happen in life are things you didn't expect--a strange little dog, lost and alone, who gave us the joy and pleasure and priviledge to give her a home where she was safe and loved....What a gift little Annie was. And that ribbon tongue...nothing like it on your nose and face....

At least we gave her four years of comfort and belonging. But she gave us much more, so much more. That's the way it is with dogs--no matter how good you are to them, they are better to you. I assure you of that.

Little Orphan Annie--a gift from God...

(The problem all these memories brings out is that dogs don't live nearly as long as you and I. So we have to know we'll lose them to that magic door of death, most likely. And probably it is better for them than to have their humans die on them....So we run through them over our lifetime and their ghosts hover round us, sniffing and licking and barking and playing...maybe we should have parrots or turtles--both of which live 40 years or so. But, seriously, is there a parrot or turtle who can nose your arm when you are busy and make you melt and you touch their loving face and let them kiss you and realize they are calling you to be a better person than you are????)

Two left: Sadie and Bela. That's coming....What a joy to remember these creatures who shared my life and made me better than I am....Dogs....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.