Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I am up, more often than not, at 4:00 AM every morning.  I like to go downstairs and make a pot of coffee.  I somehow make the trip to the kitchen area and prepare the coffee fix-ens without a light.  I really enjoy the total quiet and darkness of the very early morning.  The dogs are sleeping in the bedroom, or pretending to sleep.  From the kitchen I quietly move to the front door to look out through the glass onto the area known as a lawn and inspect the edge of the woods for errant critters.  I hear the little, hurried footsteps of Happy coming down the stairs and she immediately appears beside my foot where she sits down.
She's always the first.  A groan is heard from upstairs and I can see Shade in my mind stretching after she arose from her oversize dog pillow beside my bed.  The ka thunk of big paws move across the hard wood floor up there, to the steps and she appears sitting at my right foot.  She's almost invisible in the dark.  I then turn and walk to the kitchen to get that first hot cup of coffee and find Chestnut already sitting on the floor in front of the counter where the dog treats reside directly above.  And Homer cat - well, who knows where he is?  Homer moves to the beat of a different drummer.

I always take my coffee on the porch.  It doesn't matter what the weather is.  There's something about being out there first thing in the morning no matter what.  Burr - its a cold one this morning.  All is quiet and the dogs vanish out into the dark for points unknown.  They won't go far.  They have their morning travel routine they follow each and every morning and will appear as if by magic at my feet shortly.
Thoughts of previous camp outs flash like lightning through my mind and visions of beautiful places visited in the past appear only briefly reminding me of pleasures enjoyed in the yesterdays.  They returned to me and we all go inside where I sit on the sofa with Shade and Chestnut sitting, one on each side of my feet and Happy laying on the sofa beside me.  This is the only time of day they are totally quiet and I enjoy their  company thoroughly.
I don't know why, I guess it's the solitude of the occasion but,  I always reflect on dogs during the couch moments on these mornings.  This morning is no different.  I'm surrounded by these marvelous critters so I guess it's not hard to understand.  For some reason Chestnut is center in my thoughts.  She was born, you know, right beside my bed when I lived in the warehouse in Greenback.   Her mother, Maple, was due to have kids at any moment.  I waited from late afternoon until I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer at night.  The weather was bitter cold and I couldn't leave her outside and I prepared a bed of straw on top an old cushion for her.   At some point after midnight she started running back and forth across the floor to the dog door and outside.  She continued this every fifteen minutes.  Fifteen minutes turned to five minutes.  I heard her return to her maternity bed and all was quiet.  The room was dark and cold.  I didn't want to get out of the sleeping bag.  Yes, it was that cold.  Then, in the dark, I heard tiny, little squeaks.  The squeaks became more numerous and soon multiple squeaks could be heard.  Slurping sounds emitted from mom and I knew I was a dad.
Chestnut's mom was a unique dog.  Her face had the look of great intelligence and her eyes could peer through to one's soul.  She was soft in character and never barked or made any noise.  She also gave way to any and all who came in her path, never bold or demanding.  A more gentle dog never walked upon the earth, except maybe Sigh.  She had one issue that could not be corrected.  She could climb a fence like a squirrel.  Nothing could keep her in.  After the puppies were weaned - she disappeared never to be found.  She was collared but that seemed to make no difference.  The puppies were all adopted except Chestnut.  Chestnut was very shy and withdrawn - not playful at all.  She would hide from humans who tried to approach her.  No one wanted her.  She was not adoptable.  So, I brought her with me when I moved over here.  I'm glad of it.  She is a blessing to this house..
Above is a picture of a baby Chestnut.  Adorable!  Chestnut, it seems, has all her mother's traits.  She's quiet and shy, withdrawn, sweet and intelligent.  She trusts and will only approach me, running from anyone else, even now, who approaches her.
 Christmas is nearing and that crosses my mind also.  Dogs have been my companions at Christmas for the past ten years now.  I think of them and those who have passed out of my life.  I have all the collars still that belonged to those noble friends.  It's funny how people pass on and their memories become dulled with time but, dogs remain vivid in one's mind always.  The holidays find me thinking of and being thankful for the many hours spent with such wonderful companions.  This morning on the couch is no different.  Old Sigh who asked for nothing but gave so much is always on my mind.

It's been a privilege to be able to have her company and care for her in her later years and to make her life easy up until the end.  She, I will never forget.

They come and go and sometimes the separation is a happy one.  Such is the case with Falcor.  I somehow thought Falcor could fill the hole that Douglas left in me but, I was mistaken.  He could not be what he wasn't by nature.  I loved that little guy but found it to his benefit to find him a home where his safety could be assured. 
My ramblings sometimes take me to areas that could prove very dangerous to a smaller dog like him.  I should have known this from the start.  I did take him away from a future in a dog pen and gave him great care and love.  Falcor now resides with a family who adores him and guarantees him a life of leisure, love and the best care.  His new mom emails me photos of him all the time and tells me of what a blessing he is to her.  It was horrible to say goodbye to him but it was necessary for his own good.  Yes, I think of him daily.

The third cup of coffee finds me back on the sofa in the dark with the girls and thinking of - Him.
And I can't speak of him right now.  My heart swells at thoughts of him and my mind tries to block out those thoughts.
Never has there been a more powerful force in my life than - Him! 

I gotta get dressed and head for the lake.