I used to walk on the beach every Sunday, early, with my dog Blue. She and I would watch the sun come up, our paws and feet in the water, she tearing around, sniffing the wind, dancing in the surf.
Today was my first trip back to the beach since she died last November.
My dog Blue was one of those great furred personalities almost everyone loves. And she was totally indiscriminate in her affections. Obama or Hillary would be just fine. I cannot remember a human being she avoided. Well, ok, if they had a stick to ward off the pesky creatures--and these often proved to be Republicans-- she would give them a wide go around. But otherwise she adored humans and they adored her. In Manahttan where we lived for several years I can still hear the piping voice of the boy who lived on our block calling out to his Mom as we passed,
Look, it's the singing wolf!
To his young mind the whoooowhoo whooo-oohthat all huskies do sounded like singing, although the same happy sounds often sent older Manhattanites scooting to the edges of the sidewalk sometimes wide-eyed in terror as they asked,
Is that a wolf?
Blue never suspected the terror she aroused. She thought it was a game. And for Blue life was a game. She especially loved:
I have it, now you try and get it back.
But if you did succeed in gaining the upper hand she just laughed and whoooowhoo whooo-ooed at you. In Manhattan Sunday mornings were a special treat for both of us as we'd get up early and walk from the East river across 79th Street to Central Park where we would tramp for more than an hour through the Ramble. I always wondered if it reminded her of being back in the woods in Montana.
In the beginning I had tried a polite turn around the great circle where all the fancy Manhattan dogs pranced and gamboled loose until 9 a.m., but Blue deemed most of these pampered pooches a little short on the rambunctious side of life. No, the Ramble was more her speed, and mine too with its trails cut through a profusion of trees and streams full of mossy boulders. The Ramble even has a lake although a mean swan often partolled the shore and Blue instinctively knew to give that honker a wide go around. [ok. ok. Yes. It was a Republican swan.]
Thinking back on that time I still have no words to describe how fondly my heart would swell at the way she would bound off into the brush only to turn up somewhere down the trail, looking back, waiting patiently for me to catch up.
Blue loved everything to play at in life except swimming. I don't know why, now, I thought she should swim? But when she was 2 years old I threw her of the dock in Montana's Whitefish Lake. Blue was born not far from Glacier Park, and that is where we first hooked up. But she hated water over her head, and she never, ever forgot getting tossed in. She also never forgave me, so that whenever she and I were in close proximity to a large body of water she'd lower her head, roll her big blue eyes at me and then dash well out of reach.
But Blue loved the great southern California beaches. Some mornings she would dash into the surf up to her chest and then raise her head and sniff the wind. Dolphins often come in close to shore and maybe she smelled them or maybe something else. I will always wonder because it is one of the secrets she took to her grave.
Beside curiosity about her secrets Blue left behind a brown teddy bear with a red bowtie that she adopted the second I walked in the door with it from a trip to Japan. It is sitting in a corner of the house alongside a grey and white rubber monster with spiky hair that squeaks and a small, furry Siberian husky with blue eyes mailed to us from some animal rights group in return for a contribution.
But to Blue, all stuffed animals were attractive, ownership being a slippery issue because at street fairs she would lift them off counters and sometime even swipe one from an unwary child's hand. She also loved in no particular order trucks, cars, walks, rabbits, chickens and my mother's wheaten terrier, Duffy. Unfortunately. Duffy went off Blue forevah after he tried to swipe a tidbit from the Big Girl's bowl. Blue was an alpha female and well, you do not mess with the food of the Goddess. Although I was delighted when she stopped standing over the water spout in dog parks issuing commands about exactly when her minions could have a swig--or not.
I never wrote about Blue's death. What do you say when your best friend dies after losing use of her back legs from liver cancer. After 13 yeears she lived inside my very cells. And I was not ready to say goodbye. I knew she died, of course But that question of saying goodbye in your heart is a whole other matter. I cried for a week and then sporadically after. I am crying now. Because I am saying goodbye. She is dead, and I am still here and wanting a pal to ramble with.
I read somewhere recently that if you have a good relationship, when it ends you are more likely to want another. Whereas if you had a bad experience, you will be less likely to want another. So I am seeing my desire for a new four-legged friend in this light. It is a tribute to Blue and all she gave me of her great hearted self. Of course, she was my first dog love. And you never get over the first one. I don't care how many come after.