Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Love ∩ Dog Love

I live with a handsome brute named Django. He shares his first name and reputation for persistence with the famous Gypsy jazz guitarist, Django Reinhardt. My Django is a 95-pound German shepherd with the noble head, traditional black and tan coloring, and broad, leonine neck and shoulders of his breed. He is the only male I have lived with in my adult life, so you can gather correctly that I am a single female, one who does not easily settle down. While this admission may seem pitiful to some and strange to others, to me it is amusing. I have learned a lot from this dog. I’m sure I have adopted some of his habits, and he has adopted some of mine.

Django is an accommodating male – sometimes. He gets up to go out when I feel like a walk. He kisses me when I lower my face to his. He gives me a quick bark when I ask, “Whaddya say?” And he accompanies me to every room in our home. Wherever I go, there he is. It's as if there are five Djangos living with me.

But there are things he insists upon doing despite my most persistent training. He steals my gloves every time we head for the door. He crosses over my heels to descend the stairs, which has nearly sent me diving down an entire flight to the concrete below. He naps on my exercise mat while I work out, and he eats his own business, a habit that used to disgust me. Now I simply I make sure he does not kiss me for several hours afterward.

At 11, Django is more like 80 in people years. He is a charming old man with his boyish mischief and, I swear, a sense of humor. The glove-stealing is one of his jokes, which I let him play on me over and over again. But at his age, his joints are stiff. He takes each step (we live on the third floor) slowly as we head downstairs. Not a block from home he often stops to look up at me and then back toward our apartment building as if to say, “That’s enough. Can we go home now?”

When his joints were still supple, Django took a flying leap each night and landed on my bed in a blast of fur. He’d circle once, paw at the sheets and release his weight like a dropped sack of books. There was hardly a greater pleasure to me than having this big, docile beast up against me, sleeping, dreams causing little hiccup barks and his paws to twitch as he ran through imagined meadows.

No matter that I had to sweep fur out of my bed in the morning. Or that I still wipe down every rug in my home with my bare hands. I will continue to gather up great handfuls of wool and take him out in the harshest weather. I will erect a hoist if I have to, to haul him up and down like a piano with four legs instead of three.

Dog love is dogged love. The kind required, this single gal realizes, for human companions, too. Question is, should I find myself a musician?

1 comment:

rarenest said...

This one is lovely. I remember how he stole my hat when you lived off of Halsted.