Lucy Doodle (blond bombshell)
Zac Joe Doodle (tall, dark & handsome)
We called the new neighbors Milo and Mr. Milo. We simply bestowed upon the quiet, nameless man his dog’s name. The dog and the man not only looked identical, but their presence was perfectly mirrored in the other. Both were contained, delicate and deliberate. Dog was a lovely greyhound who always wore a tidy, season-appropriate coat. Man was white and non-descript, impeccably dressed in anonymous taupe outerwear. On their long and delicate legs together they walked with a deliberate flow of paced, guarded energy. They showed no affect at all.
My dogs did. Lucy Doodle, the charismatic blond leader of our family and Party Dog Extraordinaire was clearly the most expressed being I have ever met. She walked on her leash on my right, generally disheveled in appearance, reacting to life with “big energy”, as we would fondly say, in our better moments. Zac Joe Doodle, the silly supporting man on my left, was always game to get on board the newest adventure. He was the full-hearted, fully available follower. I walked in the middle, with a wary and cautious eye to the world, always looking for that bunny around the next tree, waiting in seductive stillness. My dogs were neither contained nor delicate. Nor were they deliberate. They pulled and danced with and against the leash and walked and lived and played with great and wild abandon. I was younger then and committed to the illusion of control. It was a life strategy that didn’t work terribly well.
Our general encounters with Milo and Mr. Milo on the dirt roads where we lived and walked were never pretty. Milo seemed above the canine fray, and the Doodle Fray on my right and left were anxious to immerse themselves into Milo’s tidy world. Embarrassed exchanges occurred between the humanoids while the canines, seemingly from different species, regarded each other with disdain (on Milo’s part) and eager possibility (on the Doodles’.) Suffice to say, our “energies did not blend well”. But we always managed to extricate ourselves from any embarrassing tangle of leashes or legs or barks.
Until The Event. The Event happened one morning on the Beach Road. All was well in Doodle-Land as we rounded the corner, the last stretch of the road ahead. A walk without incident was always my unconscious goal, to protect the dogs (hence myself) from any variable of life, like a rabbit encounter, dog encounter, and so on. I still saw the world as a dangerous place, my job being the protection of my dogs and myself from life. Lucy and Zac did not agree with my perspective. They were eagerly and excitedly and messily available for life as it showed up, and eager to teach me, too.
As we rounded the corner to head home, walking toward us in rhymed content containment was the Milo Family, humanoid and canine. Some invisible energetic switch must have flipped on in young Lucy’s brain. Filled up with whatever dog hormones drive one toward instant insanity, she lunged ahead, with Milo and Mr. as the sole focus of her world. Zac, always ready to follow his sister’s lead, surged behind her. The intensity of both leashes pulling me so vigorously startled me and knocked me down onto my knees. However I would not be deterred. I held onto the leashes and went down, literally with the Canine Ship. And dramatically down I did go.
Think Ben Hur. Think the chariot scene, but without the chariot. The Doodles dragged me across and up the dirt road, with me on my knees, holding the leashes for dear life. We traveled in this terrified and breakneck fashion for perhaps a half a block, time and distance both illusive and at a standstill. Milo and Mr. stood stock still as we descended upon them, crazy dogs with crazy person attached. Literally attached.
The rest is a blur. Perhaps I sputtered an apology, attempting to seem normal, despite the fact I was still on my knees and in a cloud of dust, deposited at the Milos’ feet. My dogs danced and pranced with glee, with Milo looking down at us, I swear, with a sneer of disgust. The Milos extricated themselves, and I somehow managed to stand and limp home.
My dogs have taught me deeply about my illusion of control. The creative tension between offering them training while letting them be exactly who they are has been life-changing for me, rich with growth and development. But that day I was younger, a newer dog-companion, and righteously pissed at them. I swore vehemently I would never walk them again, a proclamation that lasted seven hours. I have since learned that being angry at a dog is a futile and ridiculous contradiction of life itself.
Lucy is gone now. Although it’s been a few years, our house still echoes with a strange and unusual empty calm without her. Zac has emerged as the man of the house with quiet dignity and incredibly mensch-like- good-boy-behavior. Both Milos disappeared overnight from our neighborhood with an expected lack of fanfare. My knees eventually recovered, my temper calmed.
I continue to grow and learn from my relationship with Zac, clearly my soul-connected companion. I think of my chariot ride courtesy of the Doodles up the Beach Road with some tender snickers today. Somehow its memory lightens my heart. Everything comes to pass; everything changes. My canine companions continue to give me the ride of a lifetime as I practice letting go of the reins.
My dear Reader-Friend-People, what memory lightens your heart today? What brings you a snicker of relief? How are your lessons being delivered to you? Are there any animal gurus in your world? Please do keep your emails rolling in.