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Friday, February 12, 2010


martha consuming day old catfood

Martha was outside when I woke this morning. First thing I did was take yesterday's catfood out for her. I thought about letting her in and thought about it. Decided to block all exits from this room and keep her localized at first, as we get better acquainted. An hour or so later I opened the door and invited her to come in. She wouldn't do it. I called to her. She wouldn't do it. She came to the door, stuck her nose inside, reached her 2 front feet inside, got scared and withdrew. I've trained her to stay out by not letting her in and now she's afraid to come in because she wants so much to please me. She wouldn't do it. I thought ok, no problem. She quieted way down, meek and afraid, no squirming and hopping. I regretted I put her in this position. Maybe tomorrow.

I had to go out to the car and get the jump cables ready for Ronald Davis who was coming by to help me jump the car. On the way to the car, walking through this difficult snow, snow shovel for balance like a tightrope walker uses a pole, but different, also using the shovel as a cane, a third foot. What a hell of an effort to get from the door to the road, either of the 2 ways I can go. The holes in the snow/ice where I put my feet were filled by the light recent snow that drifted around filling in holes with dry, powdery snow of pixel sized crystals that gathered up around my ankles like water. By the time I get to the road I've forgotten about socks with snow on the ankles. Too many more threatening possibilities loom with every step, such that I don't worry about ice on socks. I need to stay upright. It takes full concentration, attention to balance never wavering.

By the time I'm a few feet out the door, Martha jumping all around on the mound of snow that fell from the roof, enchanted, excited, thrilled beyond what a young dog body can handle, about to fly apart from terminal wiggliness. She's happy to see me. I talk to and tell her I'm happy to see her too. She jumps and jumps. Along comes her big sister Jolene. Jolene is about 3 times Martha's size. Jolene came running to me, her friend, to say hi, eyes lit up. Martha went straight to her neck and clamped down. Jolene shook her loose and pinned Martha to the ground on her back, mouth over her throat. Martha jumped up when she let go, like nothing happened. Jolene headed toward me and Martha jumped her again, attacking, not hinting. Over and over Jolene would put her on her back until she cut it out. As soon as Jolene headed toward me, Martha attacked her again. She was relentless.

Biting her neck wasn't enough. Martha tried steering her away by jumping at her full force with a body slam to change her direction at the same time she sank her teeth into Jolene's neck. All the way to the road I'm doing my best to keep my balance just to be vertical in this snow, a dog fight going on around me, in front, to the side, either side, in front. Any direction Jolene approached me from, Martha attacked her. When Martha squatted to pee at the mailbox, she was looking at me with eyes that said, I gotcha covered, my man. Everything's under control. Don'cha worry 'bout nothin. The air in her look at me, what I saw in her eyes, brought to mind the character Mouse in the early Denzel Washington film, Devil in a Blue Dress. Don Cheedle. A small guy who carries a big gun and is quick to use it. Denzel gets in a jam with some bad boys and calls Mouse to help him out. For Mouse it's another chance to have some fun. He aint afraid of nothin. That's how Martha is. It's like her song is sung by Prince, I Would Die For You.

She had that kind of automatic attack response a chihuahua has, that you have to kill it to stop it. Protector is what dog nature is about. It's the strongest impulse they have, as far as I am able to see in dogs of my acquaintance. They are known for forgiveness. They are the very essence of forgiveness. They forgive like Jesus said for us to do. The very nature of God we live by, forgiveness. If God wasn't infinitely forgiving, we couldn't live. We go around feeling guilty anyway, afraid to look God in the eye. A dog's forgiveness in the house, with me all the time, is a good presence to have, a good reminder. A friend as loyal as it's possible to be, again, the essence of loyal. Loyal as a dog is the same as saying loyal as it gets.

At the road, where Martha had better freedom of movement, she wouldn't let Jolene anywhere near me. I went to the mailbox and Jolene went over toward the car a little ways, and on my right, Martha squatted to pee beside the mailbox, and I'm thinking, she has claimed me for her own. She's telling all the other dogs that Martha rules here. She's telling me that she is my dog. This is the first time I saw her attack another of the dogs for approaching me. It might be fun to go over to the house for a visit and see how she handles it in the house with all the other dogs. She may be the bottom of a pecking order, but she has a giant friend that's hers and hers alone, all others back off. There'd be a dogfight inside my first minute inside the door. Jolene is way up the hierarchical ladder from Martha among the 6 dogs, but Martha doesn't care when Jolene gets close to her man. Pecking order suddenly has changed. Martha is the top of the pecking order in my world, and she's not afraid. She was going at Jolene with serious intent. Jolene had to fight her off, and Martha never let up.

This is the dog that sits outside the window in the snow and freezing air all day looking at me through the window, lying down in the snow where she can see me. I've finally caught on. That is love. She is here for me. I can't turn my back. My dog is here. And I've trained her to stay out of the house. That's ok. I'll get her in here tomorrow and sit quietly with her, talk to her, pet her, let her understand I accept her love and have opened to love her in turn. I know by now she is paying attention to every nuance from me. She's reading me closely like she reads another dog. Now I can communicate with her. I have never been courted by a dog. Her eyes when she looks at me are like love beams, overwhelmed with love so she can't do anything but jump up and down, wiggle and pee on herself. Nothing subtle about that.

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