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Friday, December 23, 2011

A DOG'S LIFE

      apple and wine



Christmas is coming. I just now turned the radio off for playing have yourself a merry merry Chistmas. Some of it might have been curmudgeonism, most of it is weariness of hearing these same old dreary songs every year. The really good ones seldom turn up, like Ralph Stanley's Beautiful Star of Bethlehem. I don't hear it so much, so it's not, as they say in the mountains, boresome. I've always liked Christmas, but was worn out by Christmas music early in life. Maybe it came from watching adults do music at church, prepare for Christmas skits by the kids, all of it empty and without meaning. Of course, it was the savior's birth, though it's not really his birth date, mixed in with Saturnalia, an astrological span of time of festive spirit and giving.



It's somewhat strange that in Christendom, Christmas is the big money spending time of the year, the time of the year that keeps the Economy rolling. Shopping. Now they're shopping all night long at malls that are staying open all night for the people who have to work all the time during the day. Long ago I learned I can't keep up with what is required for Christmas, buying expensive presents for everyone I know, just about. I tend to give more or less symbolic presents now, inexpensive, but nice to have. Like some of my friends are getting Dori Freeman's new album, Porchlight. Her singing is so good and the songs so finely put together, just about everyone I know, who likes music at all, would like Dori's singing. She's from this region of the mountains, and sings her own style that is accessible to the ear mountain music is sometimes not accessible to. Somebody like Marcus Martin is inaccessible to an ear away from the mountains. Dori is of the mountains, but not mountain specific. Her dad is a great musician, and her grandpa on her mother's side is a great musician. She has several uncles who are excellent musicians too. She grew up in a world of mountain musicians playing mountain music. 



That's about it for me and Christmas. I may end up watching football at somebody's house. May not. That's another thing that has estranged Christmas from me, football on tv. Men sit in the living room talking their tv football nickel knowledge. In the kitchen, the women come and go, staying away from the television. Then there's the dog show for anybody not wanting to watch football. Who wants to watch a dog show? It seems to me training dogs to be vain about their appearance like humans is the same as bestiality. Dogs have such intelligence about them in their own dogness, I can't see using that intelligence against them, to turn them into ego-maniacs, the worst thing a human can be. Why do that to a dog? It's the same as doing it to a child. Jon Benet Ramsey comes to mind first thing. Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except in the basement. 



The dogs that have lived here with me along the way, I've allowed their dogness. I didn't try to make them into projections of what I want for myself, how I want to be seen with my beautiful dog. My dogs dragged dead rabbits home and ate them. My dogs found deer corpses hunters left to the night animals after cutting off the head with the antlers for mounting. The dogs brought home deer legs and chewed the flavor off the bones and later use the bones for exercising their teeth evolved for ripping meat, for catching running prey, for defense and offence. I allowed that in my dogs. It means that all through hunting season, outside my door looks like outside a caveman's den. Bones, hide, legs, spines, have even had a few heads. Martha, the dog next door that spends her days here guarding my place, has torn the hair off a hide she drags around and chews on. A deer's foreleg is out there in the rain now. It's gross having deer parts strewn about, but it keeps the dog pacified to have something to chew on. I believe it keeps dog in touch with its own dogness. 



I liked to give a dog a good dog's life. The dogs have evolved as human companions ever since they began to evolve out of untameable wolfness. I look at a dog as needing human companionship, a human to love, a human to protect, a human to be given shelter and fed by. They also have in them a need for the chase, the kill, the taste of blood. Living here where I am with meadow immediately around the house on 3 sides and tremendous acreage across the road of woods. The meadow has rabbits and groundhogs. The woods have everything else. It's where the wild things live, the things a dog is shy of, like bobcats, mountain lions, bears, rattlesnakes, copperheads. And it has the smaller critters a dog can chase and sometimes catch and eat.



I was glad to be able to offer my dogs a balanced dog's life. My only regret with all the pets that have lived with me, I didn't know how much they loved me. I knew they loved me, but didn't understand the depth of their love. Growing up in a culture that believed dogs, cats and all the rest of the animals have no soul, it took a lifitime to learn how to communicate with the animals that are only dumb because they can't talk. They taught me they have feelings and thoughts, and they have the capacity to figure things out. I don't mean like figure out math problems, but they learn and they learn fast. My dog Sadie was a groundhog dog. Twice she dragged a dead groundhog to her place under the house. I had to crawl under the house and drag the groundhog out after it had begun to smell and draw flies. She watched me bury both groundhogs. From that day when she killed a groundhog she carried it to a place nearby she knew the ground to be soft. She'd dig a hole with her front feet, push the groundhog into the hole with her nose. Pushed dirt over the groundhog with her nose. She buried all the groundhogs she killed after that.  



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