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Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Basketful of Squirrels

I asked my son Nathaniel yesterday how he thought Singer was adjusting to her new home. He thought for a minute, then said she was probably disappointed. “Disappointed? Why?”
“She thought she’d get a basketful of squirrels on her pillow in her own room.” We both laughed. I know what he means. Looking at her, she does look like this princess who expects things to be given to her. That is, when she’s not focused on a chattering squirrel on a telephone line, sassing her and twitching its tail.  

Singer is the child in the back of the classroom who sits quietly all day, unnoticed by the teacher or the kids. But when no one else knows the correct answer, Singer will come through. She just has this look about her. She notices everything without looking like she’s paying attention. She is quiet and almost dignified, if that’s possible with an Irish setter. She knows how to behave when it’s required of her, and she knows when she can just enjoy life as much as a dog can.

I imagine that she misses her home. Sometimes, when she’s still, looking into the distance, I wonder if she’s thinking about her people and doggie friends in Minnesota. Does she miss them? Does she miss the smells of her old home? Surely she does. No matter how much she seems bonded to us and to Dakota, it's likely that images of her old home flash through her mind from time to time. I have no idea about the inner life of dogs, (I’m no Patricia McConnell) but I suspect their emotional life is not nearly as complicated as humans. I don’t think they feel regret, for example. Their homesickness is probably a lot different than what people feel. She is, for the most part, an alert, calm and contented dog. She is enjoying her new life with us. She knows where the back door is, where her food and water are, and loves to watch her backyard like television. She checks on Dakota regularly, sniffing his head or his back. And she is getting closer to me and to Jeff and Nathaniel every day. 
"What is that squirrel saying to me?"
"Dakota, did you see that??!!"

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