"On the third day of Christmas,My dogs are members of my family. There's Type A Kestrel, who if she were a horse would be a warmblood -- leggy, athletic, with legendary endurance. After we lost our English Mastiff to systemic lymphoma, Kestrel crawled into my lap at the Humane Society, stared into my eyes and refused to budge.
My true love gave to me:
3 fuzzy dogs,
2 flightless birds,
and an old farm in the country."
"My person left me here," she said more clearly than audible words. "I have no idea why, but I'm expecting you to remedy the situation."
She came home with us before the ink on the paperwork was dry. Shortly after adopting her, I came down with Swine Flu (which sounds a lot funnier than it really is), then participated in the I-Can't-Believe-I'm-Actually-Crazy-Enough-To-Do-This 3-Day Novel Contest. The new dog and I literally spent an entire week of concentrated time together. This resulted in significant separation anxiety on her part when I was attempting to sleep for the first time in days.
Kestrel's not really into sleeping. She is the kind of dog who sleeps with one eye open. It's difficult to get a picture of her really gone. Only once have I been successful:
Usually, however, I end up with something like this:
River, the unfortunate example of what happens with an pit bull gets intimate with a Shar-Pei, has no such compunction. She's like a racing Quarter Horse: all the energy in the universe crammed into a compact brown-brindle body. She expends it in a primal burst -- POW!! Then she's done. She's either "ON," obsessively playing with her Jolly Ball (see video below), or "OFF" (see photo above).
And last, but in no way least, there's Barkley. The only male. The only purebred. The only dog who outweighs me. The only laid-back, Type B Zen-master. Barkley has mastered the art of living in the moment. His role in life is to hold the floor down and act as a back door draft deterrent. He does these jobs well.
Barkley loves all creatures great and small. He's not nearly as fond of laying in front of the fireplace as Kestrel and River. Instead, he prefers to park himself in front of the Magic Box that displays moving pictures accompanied by realistic sounds. He's quite myopic and we speculate on how real he thinks the things inside the TV actually are. In any case, he knows the moment we pop a DVD in and hurries to his spot so he can watch along with us.
These three dearhearts make every day warmer and more wonderful. They are all "rescues." River was an unspayed stray who wandered into a good friend's front yard. Kestrel and Barkley were adopted after being dumped at the Humane Society. Someone else's loss is my inestimable gain.
I often say that my dogs help keep me sane. People laugh as if I've made a joke, but I fear I'm far more serious than they suspect. Every day, my dogs provide me with the priceless gifts of genuine enthusiasm, adoration, and unvarnished love. I am forever in their debt.