"I am playing with myself,
I am playing with the world's soul,
I am the dialogue between myself and el espiritu del mundo.
I change myself, I change the world."

Gloria AnzaldĂșa

02 April, 2009

In Dogs I Trust

Years ago, when I worked at a long term care facility for the mentally ill, I had a patient who had severe bipolar disorder. Lorraine was sometimes severely depressed--sitting in a dark room peeling the paint off the wall--sometimes violently paranoid--restrained in a chair or a bed with locked leather restraints--and sometimes thoroughly delightful. I loved Lorraine. There was a time in Lorraine's cycle when she was just entering mania, when she was funny and sweet and sharp. I would get off the elevator at 11pm, and Lorraine would be sitting in the nurses station with her nightgown hitched up like a short skirt, her long legs crossed at the knee, and a cigarette dangling from her fingers like a wild, liquored up Lauren Bacall. "There she is!" She'd shout, "My little girl! My little darling!" And then an aside in a lower voice, "She's queer for dogs, you know."

I am, you know.

I know it seems silly to non-dog lovers, but dogs fill a primal need in my life. They are unconditional acceptance, consistent love, instant forgiveness, constant companions, and a presence of pure joy. What is not to love?

I know I'm not alone in this. When I studied Proto Indo-European linguistics, we talked about how the earliest Indo-European graves contain dogs and people buried together--companions in the afterlife. The history of humanity is the history of the dog.

And when my story is told, it will be the story of many dogs. Right now my story is the story of three dogs.

Yesterday was Dinah the yellow dog's 11th birthday. Since the doggies function as the court jesters in Casa de Jensen, I celebrate April first as the Day of the Dogs.

Dinah 11

As you can see by the eyes, Dinah is a sweet, sweet girl. She was a goofy puppy for the first six years of her life-- a slightly better behaved Marly. Once, when I was ill and she was bored, she ate my juice glass. Yes. She. ate. glass. We took her to the vet to be observed, and she became a legend at the clinic. Now an older and wiser doggie, she is still playful but much calmer.


Alice 13(ish)

Alice is the bipolar pup. She is quiet and sweet and loving. As long as you're not a cat. She has an advanced hunting instinct, and a compulsive need to chase cats. She has caught a few and even killed one, so I try to keep kitties far away from her.

Bess 7 mo.

And Bessie is just pure joy. While her puppy exuberance is sometimes a bit destructive, It is like taking a shot of happiness to watch her play.



10 comments:

JessTrev said...

I can't believe Yellow Dog ate a juice glass! Our dearly departed used to like to harvest food from the top of our refrigerator (we'd store it up there in a vain attempt to keep him from eating all our baked goods). He'd just hurl himself against the fridge until he rocked those bagels down! Love the sounds of all three of yours. I am *such* a fellow dog lover. Just can't fathom the heartbreak of their short lives, though. I wish we could figure out how to give them the longevity of, say, an African parrot. ;) The gene seems to be passed on, too. I just found a note my darling 5yo EGirl wrote and sealed in an envelope. She'd carefully written on a rainbow, "The best days of my life were with Xerxes (our dog)."

Mike Golch said...

just thought that i'd stop by to say Hi. I got some of my goodies for you on my site!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I don't share your primal connection to dogs (I just regular like them), but my son does. I truly believe it would be almost abusive to deprive him of his dogs.

Mark A. said...

Ellie wanted me to say that she supports posting about puppies, and she recommends we do it more often.

JCK said...

Those are some cute doggies. And well loved.

Mary Alice said...

I am a dog lover too. There is something about that joyfullness and unconditional love.

Allmycke said...

"...a shot of happiness..." What a prefect description!

Mrs. T said...

I think I'm that way with cats- although I love dogs as well.
I can't believe how grown-up Bess looks! Wow! Is she Chow/Lab? Maybe Border Collie?
And is Alice part Beagle? I would have pegged her for the glass eating.
All are beauties. Our Sookie just turned 2 in March and has settled down considerably since we got her in August. Even the cat is starting to tolerate her!
Just out of curiosity- did you choose all female doggies on purpose or did it just end up that way?

Nora said...

Beautiful animals. I don't know where any of us would be without them, honestly.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I just didn't really get the whole dog lover thing until I fell in love with one. Still? Achoo. But I love my daughter's dog.