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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Animal Spirit Transfer


Singer, forever known now as the “Walk Witch”, becomes transformed by her daily walks. It is unchanging, the transformation, even if the circumstances are varying from day to day. Even though we might take a different route, or the weather is cloudy one day, steamy hot the next, she falls into the same rhythms during her walk. The first bunny she sees, she stops to mesmerize for several minutes:  her head erect, her nose twitching, her eyes focused. Sometimes her paw steps slowly, silently forward, inching toward her prey. Her elegant legs twitch in excitement—she is drinking up the essence of her bunny, who is motionless in terror, its black eye transfixed on the sight of that big red dog stalking just a few feet away. The bunnies never even consider running away at this time, it’s as if they’ve all made the assessment:  “My life is over—I could never run from that fast dog.” It also seems the very molecules that float in the air above the bunny are somehow absorbed by Singer. She is doing a sort of Vulcan-like transfer of animal spirits, I believe. And the transformation is completed as she suddenly comes back to the present, her walk, and she moves energetically forward at a pace that pulls at her long flexi-lead, so that I am straining to keep up.

I wonder just what is involved in this complex transaction of animal spirit to animal spirit during these walks. It seems that, whatever the process, it energizes Singer and she takes the rest of the walk at a brisk speed, somehow happier. I feel like a slow child, struggling to keep up with my super fast nanny, who has decided to embark on an ambitious exercise program for her chubby charge. “Come, come,” Singer might say in an English (or Irish) accent, “Hurry it up!”

I cannot help but admire her athletic movements several feet ahead of me. She slices through the air, whether it is wet-blanket humid out, or still and foggy just before rain, she moves at a business-like pace. The other dogs on our walk always stop to look at her; some bark energetically, trying to get her attention. She may get her guard up, and start to growl, at which point I carefully steer her across the street. Suddenly, I think of myself as being in charge again, instead of her, and I think of the near-miss of a vicious dog fight. I am always so relieved. Singer hardly takes any notice. She is on a mission:  “Come! Come!”

Other times we will meet our neighbors, who may stop to pet Singer and talk to me for a few minutes. Singer is aloof towards most people. I excuse her frosty manners, saying that she is just tired from her walk. But privately, I wonder why she is not a people dog, like Saylor was. She is incredibly bonded to me, I know how much space I take up in her canine mind: more than 90 percent, I’m sure. I know she lives and breathes by my wishes and actions. I can’t make any movement in the house without Singer trotting down from her couch to come check out my actions, see what I’m doing. It’s kind of a daunting relationship—sometimes, I actually invite Singer to “go see Daddy” (Jeff) so that she stops trying to paw me, or lay on my feet.

But man, every day I am so glad to have her. She is such an incredible animal. She has brightened my life so much, and I love her so very much. As I love Dakota, my sweet kitten, who is getting on in years. Both are such precious pets.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Walk Witch Gets Her Wish


Singer is my walk witch. She never lets a day go by without reminding me in her subtle way that she wants to go on her walk. Doesn’t matter if Jeff or Nate have already given her one—she has to have a walk with me. Every single day. No matter how brutal the heat, or how tired I am, she wants her walk with me.

She’ll give me looks, wait patiently until I get up and then try to lead me to the front door. Wagging her tail, she’ll look at me as if I’m a dense child: “Do you get it? Walk?” she seems to be saying as she looks at me so expectantly. I might hurry on, as I did tonight, busy with dinner preparations. She’ll lie down in the kitchen to wait, watching me.

Like a witch, she’s actually plotting her next move. I have a daring thought: I think I may be able to sneak off after dinner to the deck and get some writing down. As I walk to the door, Singer’s right by my side, like a horse trotting to first place. She blocks the door to the deck. I stand aside and let her out first. She prances around the yard, checking out her favorite chipmunk sites, and I think, “Good, she’s happy.” I boot up my laptop.

She runs over to the deck, jumps up on the table and looks down at me, her ears hanging forward as she looks right into my face. Her eyes have a disapproving look, as if she is an old crone coming out of the woods, wondering if her potion has taken effect yet. “Singer,” I push-pet her back, but she paws at me. First one paw, then she tries the other one. She tries to paw my laptop, so I stand up and walk over to the railing, setting my laptop precariously on the railing. I get a few minutes of work done. She is still on the table, watching, waiting. Her patience is admirable.

I try to sit back down again, and the walk witch tries another tack. She starts lovingly licking my thigh, slowly at first, from top to bottom. It tickles. “Singer…” I try to brush her away. Finally, I look at her, laugh, and give in. The walk witch gets her wish.

Yesterday, a Sunday, it was too hot outside to groom Singer on the deck. So I set up a card table in the cool basement and worked on her. She loves the stripping comb now, which I use every week to keep her under coat thinned out. She sometimes lays on her side and I will slow down and work on her, remembering how I used to love taking care of my dolls as a little girl. I loved to brush their nappy rough hair, dress them, talk to them, bathe them. I would use my allowance and buy them diapers and dresses at the neighborhood drugstore. Teary Deary was a baby doll I especially loved. Singer Bell Ringer is my baby doll. She loves her weekly massages, and I love to brush her fur until it shines and smooth out all the tangles so that her fur lays nice and flat. She has a sort of curl to her coat, which is hard to manage—I suspect there are show products that get the curl out. But her weekly grooming sessions leave her coat looking more uniform, less clumpy, and definitely more shiny. She always takes a jog around the yard after we’re done, and I admire how beautiful she looks as she makes her way around the yard. She’s my walk witch, but I can never say no to her for long.