Monday, July 30, 2012

Random stuff I learn from my dog, Fletch. Part II: Marking

Dogs pee on things. A lot. And they like peeing on things, a lot. Fresh patches of grass and wall to wall carpeting present perfect places to piss. Add to that: street corners, bushes, pathways, sidewalks, fire hydrants, trees, park benches, swingsets, car tires, mailboxes, flagpoles, and flowers. Nothing on the ground is safe from a raised leg and urine to spare.

It's much more than just a birthright. They're programmed to mark territory, claim it as their own. It's a greeting, statement, or a warning.

People say dogs can't speak; well, I disagree. They use their bladders to talk and their noses to hear.

I suppose Fletch really thinks the world is his to piss all over. He certainly acts like it, and marks accordingly. He's just doing what comes naturally to him.

Peeing on everything is not something I should try to emulate, literally. But the model intrigues me. Treat the world a little bit like it's yours. Let others know you're there, that you exist, and that you care. Tell the world that you're present, that you're around, that you've left your mark.

"Occupy the space you occupy." — Adrienne Rich

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Random stuff I learn from my dog, Fletch. Part I: Kids

This is Fletch, my yellow lab.
Like all divorces, mine was hard on the family, especially my kids. We spent Christmas Eve together, then they were gone. Gone like Christmas. Nobody was ready for it, certainly not me. 

Fletch picked a spot at the top of the stairs, overlooking the front door and entryway. He waited for days, head lowered, ears peeled. It was everything a picture of vigilance. Cars passed by the house, sending his head up off the floor. He'd strain to hear the slam of car doors, small voices, and footsteps hitting the porch. But the cars just went by.

They went by, went on, to other homes, where other dogs reunited their human families. Deflated, his head drooped to the floor, again and again, beleaguered, and punctuated with sighs. Up and down. Up and down. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.

A car stopped one day and he stood, ramrod straight like a Marine. Car doors slammed, small feet approached, sending the tip of Fletch's tail whipping with controlled anticipation. The front door flew open and his family had returned.

They came home, eventually, and they were fine. Fletch's heart was never in question; who could say where his mind was? I missed them too, worried of course. My kids were away from home, settling into a new one. Adjusting. But he doesn't wait by the door anymore, the times they leave. He knows. We both know. The kids will be fine. 

The sting of divorce still strums angry chords in this new song, the one I write with my kids. But we are singing, growing.