Nothing heavy today …
I live in a park. And today is perfect park weather.
I live in a park. Not the country. I can walk to the library, post office, grocery store, and city hall, though I’m in the wayback. And it looks more like city park than a farm or a wilderness.
I was ouside on a lounge chair reading when the trees drew my eye over the top of the book. I looked up, suddenly felt the joy of being in some lush, though undeveloped spot. And I asked myself, “What are you doing sitting here today with your face in a book?”
The book is an elegant edition of the Tao Te Ching a friend gave me a few years ago. So it’s meditaive, parklike. I’m out there precisely because I want to read it slowly and think about what every line means. But still.
I’m sorry to report that Garden Kitty is among the missing. GK lives at Neighbor J’s place. He’s an outdoor cat, but don’t go getting any scruffy, feral ideas. He’s got a wide, covered porch to shelter under, and a basket with a heating pad. My cat would leave home if she knew what he was being fed. And he’s so friendly that if he were a dog, he’d be the kind getting you muddy from head to toe with his ecstatic jumping. Being a cat, he sticks with head-rubs, nudges with his funny polydactyl paw, following you around, and getting in your face at the food station, which is elevated.
But GK went away Thursday night. Sheds and garages have been checked. One neighbor even inspected under their house. But no GK.
This may be the small-town equivalent of an urban park, but that no longer means it’s without predators. Maybe it never did, but they’re getting both bolder and more prevalent.
There’s much better critter news, though!
I was going to wait a few months before blogging this to make sure all truly went well. But a) I’m too excited to keep my mouth shut and b) it’s clearly a match made in heaven. So …
The Wandering Monk adopted a dog! And I introduced them.
Why the exclamation points? Well, when the Monk first showed up here three years ago or whenever it was, he announced immediately that he didn’t like dogs. I offered to put Ava in a closed room, but said since he might be here a lot, I’d rather he try to get used to her. He agreed that was no problem and my house; my rules.
Not long after that he elaborated that he didn’t mind real, dog-sized dogs. It was just those little yappers he couldn’t stand. Oh, and rottweilers and things like that. He confessed being terrified of rottweilers.
Then I recommended him to Neighbor J. Who has a very oversized Lab. And a big old cuddly rottweiler.
So the Monk eventually acknowledged that even a rottie could be okay if you gave it 10 minutes or so to get used to you.
There we were. After years, we’d reached toleration.
Last December, my friends K&R began fostering a young female boxer-ish mix. They described her as a diamond in the rough and said I should meet her. I was delighted when Mitz and I felt no great bond for each other. Another dog I do not need.
Three failed adoptions later, K&R invite me to dinner as part of a “socialize Mitz” campaign. Again, after two hours the dog re-learns to tolerate me.
She really is a beauty and you can see she wants to be somebody’s close, faithful companion. But she spent her first two years mostly living in a car with a homeless man, and though housebroken and well-mannered, she’s as skittish as a wild animal and shows it by barking and, if provoked, growling. She’s also one of the rare dogs (my Robbie was another) who prefer men to women.
The day after that dinner visit, in late April, I just happened to mention Mitz to the Monk. I was very surprised by his reaction: he quizzed me about her for probably half an hour.
Then he went over to Neighbor J’s and told her he was probably going to adopt a dog.
After that, he proceeded with ultra caution and research. He had me drive him out to K&R’s, who live in the real country, quizzing me all the way about the adoption process and whether they’re would be any pressure and whether the dog was spayed and had its shots. He expressed worry that she’d smell his fear. But he’d clearly done his homework, too. Among other things, he’d brought a well-used bandanna to keep his scent in the house in case he was interested.
He was upfront that he was not going to adopt her today. But we stayed two hours, with him just observing and asking questions. Not until an hour into the visit did he get her to take a treat from his hand, and not until nearly the end did he touch her.
But it was obvious he and this girl were connecting.
He left his bandanna.
Long story short: He took her for a home visit a few days later and had signed adoption papers before the end of the week.
I was concerned that, as a first-time dog owner he might be getting in waaaaaay over his head with this problem child. I feared that despite good intentions he wouldn’t have the patience to properly socialize her.
But I have seen these two together twice in the past three days (once for a good long time; he takes her everywhere he goes) and this is love. Not only is it love, but either instinctively or through careful study, he’s handling her socialization perfectly. Better than I probably would.
And now I see the “diamond” in this dog. I’m almost jealous that the Monk got such a prize. She’s easygoing and sweet tempered. She can be trusted off-leash and returns immediately when called. She’s playful but polite. And now she comes right up to me for a pet.
She and Ava fence-barked each other as if they wanted to rip each other’s intestines out and strew them through the treetops. Of course. But that’s Ava. And the magic superpowers a strong chain-link barrier gives to dogs. The monk does have some work to do, but he actually handled Mitz better in that situation than I did with Ava.
This dog is going to be an amazing companion to the Monk — and he to her. Might help him survive those winter doldrums, too.