Sunday, August 19, 2012
Today is my birthday. And just not any old birthday. Important birthdays are those that end in 5 and 0. But the MOST important birthdays end in 0. And so today, I am not just beginning a new year; I'm beginning a new decade. If you read the story about my first dog, a shared birthday gift for my sister and me who we named Penny, you won't have to be a math whiz to figure out which decade I'm entering. Or, if you have any knowledge of children's fashions, you will know when the picture of that little girl posing with her mother and brand new puppy was taken. Today, the recessional hymn was Now Thank We All Our God. It's a wonderful hymn to sing on one's birthday. My favorite line is, "Who from our mother's arms, has led us on our way, with countless gifts of love that still are ours today." One of the most memorable gifts of love that I received is literally in my mother's arms in the picture on the right of the screen: my first dog, the first in a line of ten that have comforted, amused, challenged and taught me. So on this birthday, I want to express my gratitude for all the canine companions of my life. Penny: a small, red female Cocker Spaniel, who wanted to please above everything. Midnight: a large, black male Cocker Spaniel, who knew how to make you laugh when he was naughty. Mame: a black, female Toy Poodle, who embodied the spirit of a Russian Grande Duchess. Champers: a male Soft Coated Wheaten, the model of what the breed was meant to be: merry, courageous, my Good Soldier. Britches: a female Soft Coated Wheaten, practically perfect confirmation, a canine ditzy blonde, but no dummy. Daphne: a female Wheaten/Whippet?/Greyhound? mix. Our first rescue, who changed our understanding of humans' responsibility for dogs and introduced us to the joys of sight hounds. Zephyr: a large female Greyhound--dark brindle with tuxedo markings. Tears are filling my eyes. Zephyr was incomparable. A Queen. A Diva. We were privileged to have had her with us, even for a brief time, and to have earned her trust. Portia: a female Greyhound of such beauty that she thought when people met her and said "She's beautiful", they were just saying hello. The naughtiest dog inside the house. The best behaved dog outside the house. A true Princess. Bingley: a red, male Greyhound. The sweetest tempered, highest prey dog of my life. He's growing older now and fading to tan. But his eyes are still warm brown. I treasure every moment with him. Magic: a dark brindle female Greyhound/Scottish Deerhound mix. I thought she was working on her inner princess, but I do believe we might have another Grande Duchess. She adopts YOU, not the other way around. Clever and patient. Always teaching Bingley new lessons. And yes, we have had one cat: Sterling. She was the Transitional Object (a little psychoanalytic shop talk here) after my mother and Mame died within a short time of each other. The. Most. Beautiful. Grey Tabby ever to have drawn breath. She is resting under a Sterling Silver rose in my friend's garden.