Monday, May 15, 2006

A Story by an Old Friend

About 10 years ago, or maybe a little more, Mary and Keith's dogs Sparkey and Tina were the first dogs I felt a close connection with since I had moved from New York a few years prior. How I came to know them was through house- and dog-sitting gigs, where I got a vacation from my cooperative household, since the person I was living with and I were asked to stay the nights with Sparkey and Tina. This is when they all lived in that cute little house in ________ near __________ and a wonderful ravine full of ferns and paths to wander.

During our stay I felt I got to know these two animals fairly well, eating with them, walking with them, playing with them, and generally hanging out with them in whatever capacity that meant.

One time I remember fairly well. It had been raining, and the kids (dogs) didn't seem to have the umph, as it were, to spend much time outside, though Sparkey didn't seem to mind the rain as much, and I remember taking him for a run through the woods and getting very lost and wet. I remember Sparkey kept stopping to look back and see if I was still there, wagging his tail when I was still running to catch up.

When we got back, we were soaked, and that meant getting out a towel or two and getting a rub down, then sitting by the heater to dry off. The afternoon was spent reading books. Of course I read out loud. Both dogs seemed to enjoy my voice, which promptly soothed them into a nap for the afternoon.

The most memorable part, though, was the sleeping arrangement that night. There were thunderstorms ravaging through the valley that night, and although I had been able to sleep comfortably through thunderstorms in the past, I felt a little angst for Sparkey and Tina, and I remember there was much pacing while my partner was sleeping. I lay awake, and the lightning kept crackling the night air alive with disco-ball-like flashes.The air was alive both inside and out of the apartment. Then I got up and went to the bathroom. Sparkey followed me. I asked,"What, fella?" He looked at me as I did my thing. I said, "You want out?" He put his ears down. "You want attention?" He cocked his head sideways.

I finished and pet his head, and walked back to the bedroom. My partner was half awake and asked me to come back to bed because she was cold (I'm the little heater box when I sleep, making the bed nice and toasty). I found Tina half asleep and scopped her up and placed her between my partner and I at about chest level, and Tina returned to sleep and so did my partner, perhaps assuming the warm body next to her was me. Tina's back was to my partner's back. I looked at Sparkey and thought, "He's huge," and I said, "OK, Bob, up ya go." And then Sparkey walked up on the bed and stood there at my feet looking at me. I got myself wrapped up small and crouched into a little corner of the bed, then stretched out with my legs where I wanted them, about wide enough for Sparkey to lay down between my partner and I near our feet. He turned once, he turned twice, looked at me one more time, turned a half turn, and then sat down and then all the way down and was nestled perfectly between human bodies and flopped his head across my ankles.

Lightning lit up the room. Tina was in dreamland, twitching her legs in running motion. Sparkey took a deep breath and sighed with a little doggie sound as if to say, "Ahhh." I lay back and shut my eyes, and then I looked down at my body: I had forgotten to pull the covers back up over myself and one huge dog lay on top of a pile of blankets and sheet. But he was warm enough to keep me warm, so I fell asleep against a dog's back, twitching dog feet, and a wall, and that was just fine.

The rest of the night, the crashing and booming---though it was all around that apartment and in the valley---didn't seem to affect any of us. In the morning, sleeping in, I found Tina on top of my partner, a blanket draped across my body, and Sparkey with his feet up in the air on his back, snuggled closely between my partner and I, a funny sight indeed! I wondered how he did that---how they did that---without my knowing. My partner woke up and wondered what happened. Sparkey woke up--- or maybe he was already awake?---and looked over at me wagging his tail: "Like my sense of humour?"

---Zhem, a dear old friend of Sparkey

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