Day 210 - Mornings with Lulu
I have had a lot of dogs in my life. Furry love affairs with beasts who slobber, poop on the floor and eat couches. None of their bad behavior has ever diminished my love for them...ever. Ok, they totally pissed me off for a brief moment but even a lot of those moments could not dull the intensity of the love I feel for them.
Each dog love affair has had its own story, its own tenor and pace. Some are quite tumultuous and others more settled and reserved. Regardless of their pace and tenor, they have all been based on unconditional love and mutual admiration...well, at least they let me think so.
My furry love buckets have been bright, not so bright, faithful, loving, hard to manage, mildly controlled chaos that has made my life richer and more satisfying. I have gotten way more than I have given...every single time.
I am probably more a cat person, I seem to crave the peaceful stillness of a cat. They aren’t loud. They are calm most of the time (at least mine are). But I have always had a dog. Since I was born. I got my own dog at 20 having lived 3 years alone without one while in college. I couldn’t take the lack of dog companionship.
I have had one dog at a time and I have had six dogs at a time. I prefer the one dog at a time because of the bond I have when there is only one of them and one of me. It is more intimate. I notice them more. I see their intelligence and grace so much better when there is just one.
My current dog came at a time when I had convinced myself that I no longer wanted dogs. I just wanted cats...and peace and no more accidents on the floor. After a deal that went quite awry with my daughter (she actually saved up the money, did all the research and waited for months for the puppy of her choice - honestly I didn’t think she had it in her - I was wrong!). Lulu came home to us two summers ago.
I have never owned a border collie. I have had two other collies but never a border. I was unprepared for the intelligence. She is smarter than me...and faster. She came home a puffy ball of fluff but has grown into a majestic runner of grace. My life somewhat revolves around this mostly benevolent ruler with the smooth black and white coat and gentle brown eyes.
This is how my morning starts Every. Single. Day...
I wake up and lie in bed musing the day ahead. I stir and sometimes toss around a bit wrestling with my conflicting desires to both get moving and remain still. My feet hit the floor reluctantly. This is the dog’s clue to begin her morning routine. While I fumble around for slippers and my Ember mug, she quickly moves through her morning yogic stretches, always beginning with downward facing dog and ending up with some variation of cobra.
I pass her on my way to the WC. She quickly joins me for morning pets while I...well you get the idea. She follows me to the kitchen and waits by the door while I fumble with the coffee pot. Waiting for the magic elixir that rights my head and bring clarity and lift to morning fog. I let her out. She sits down on the deck and surveys her dominion. She seems contemplative. She doesn’t run about. She just sits there and looks around. Sometimes I gaze over and find her looking upward which I swear I have never seen a dog do without a good reason. But she seems to marvel at the sky. Looking up for evidence of something more than what she is currently viewing.
I complete my coffee routine and shuffle it to my bedside. I go back for her and sometimes find her at the door but more often I find her sitting elsewhere in the yard...pondering whatever it is that dogs ponder in the early morning.
I return to bed to write. She returns to bed to sleep. We remain in those positions for hours sometimes.
As soon as I shut my computer...she awakes and alights the foot of my bed. Landing eagerly at my feet. She low crawls up to my lap where she rolls over to expose her belly and allow me to begin morning scratches.
We stay here for sometime. As I rub her belly, she smiles. I can see it on her face. It is bliss and joy and ecstasy all rolled into one. Contentment at its finest. It is hard to leave this place. I so look forward to the joy found on her face. Before her I didn’t know that dogs could smile. I mean I think I have seen it before but never like this...never this pure. Never so clearly. I wonder if I just missed it all these years. That all my other dogs tried to show me but I was too busy with my life to really see theirs. Regardless, I see it now. I see it in her.
When I am done writing and reading, I pad back out to the kitchen to thaw her breakfast. I leave it in the sink to deliquesce while I meditate and yoga. She makes her way to the couch to await my return. Sometimes she barks at others walking by, her post attended with nonchalance punctuated by bouts of intensely barked warnings of her subdued ferocity of being a canine.
When I return she is ready. Her eyes pleading with me for haste. She is ready for her walk, her 4 mile hike that seems to do nothing to dispel her boundless energy. We put on our suitable attire: me, a sports bra, shorts and jacket. Her a harness and leash and off we go.
She has places along our route that she takes care of her business. I mean the same place every day. She always lets me know how much she doesn’t appreciate my cleaning up after her. She wants to move on quickly, almost embarrassed at her elimination outside or perhaps more so my bending over to clean it up.
She has the places she pulls, the places she restrains, the places she is on high alert for squirrel or rabbit. She has a yard whose dog scares her so we must cross the street. She insists every single time when I forget. Never irritated in her reminder...
We walk the river bottom together - in a peaceful coexistence. She having a totally different yet shared experience with me.
I sometimes try to see the hike from her view...to see what she sees and experiences. But I am often in my own head, distracted by my humanness and wholly unaware of her dogness.
She is the high priestess of my morning routine. She tells me when I am late or early with the cock of her head or look on her face.
She is the smartest dog I have ever been owned by. She is something that I didn’t want but now the thought of living without her arrives panic in my heart. I love this beast and all her quirks. Her intelligence something I respect and admire. Realizing that she knows things that I will never understand though she patiently attempts to teach me every day. She a most patient teacher to a pupil too self involved to really get the lesson.
I love her. I adore her. I need her.
She rules my morning and that is just fine with me.
I was texting with a friend this morning who just a week ago today lost the king of her awakening. She lost in the grief and sadness of being ruled by a routine that is without a ruler. I initially wanted to pull back from her pain because the thought of losing my morning muse so painful to me. But then I found the courage to sit with the fear and that softened me. I allowed the pain to grip my heart and squeeze. I was given a deeper understanding of love and joy and pain and sadness for my trouble. I sent out love and light to my friend who grieves the loss of her furry chieftain. I prayed that she would grieve the loss with tears of both sadness and joy. I prayed that she would find the strength to love again a furry version of God.
For my own life, I thanked the powers that be for my most amazing goddess of fluff and fur. I sat in awe and wonder about how much my heart is filled with love that can only exist between a human and a dog. A keen invitation and rsvp between the spirt realm and human reality. Her embodying all that is holy and good: sweet appreciation for morning stretches, patient waiting for what comes next, the ability to speak up when affronted, and a benevolent obedience to the routine of life. All coagulating into a peaceful abiding to life’s rising storms as well as life’s abundant lessons in love.
My whiskered friend awaits so I go. Off to explore adventures in routine with a companion who never fails to remind me that the time for joy is now. The time for love is now. The time for affection is now. There is no other time...there never has been and for her, and for me if I let it, there never will be.