a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Interesting Things

Monday, March 17, 2003

Interesting Things

You have to understand that I'm not a superstitious or religious person. I'm not even convinced there's any kind of afterlife, which is another thing that makes it so hard for Remington to go--he wasn't actually going; he was stopping. Maybe I'm grasping at straws now--read on.

Remington was not into licking. Even if you had food on your hands, he thought licking was a bad idea. I tried to teach him to lick/kiss on command, but I had to just about bury my hand or face in peanut butter to get his tongue out. But he *did* like to smell people's breath. That was a nearly daily ritual; at some point, he'd position his nose an inch or two from my face and hold it there--you could see his nose twitching, smelling, looking for some kind of status imperceptible to me--then, satisfied, he'd move away and go about his business.

Tika is a licking dog. She licks constantly. It drives me nuts. Put a hand or face near her, and it's lick lick lick. She even smells with contact--if she's sniffing your leg, there's an annoying little tickle all up and down and around where her nose is just touching the surface. No subtlety at all.

The day Remington died, I was on the floor, petting and scritching both Tika and Jake and trying not to cry while I was doing so. Tika sat down in front of me, lifted her nose--stopped an inch or two away from my face, and sniffed, just her nose twitching, checking my breath; then, having gotten her status, she looked away again. So perfectly Remington-like. She had never done that before and she hasn't done it since.

Then there's Jake. Jake sleeps while we travel, unlike Remington, who would sit up the entire trip and look for Cows. Rem's head would snap to one direction or another if he thought there might be Cows there. I could point out one side or the other and say, "Look, Cows over there!" and he'd turn his head to look where I was pointing. His head moved slowly as we drove by the Cows so that he could keep his gaze fixed on them. Once in a while, when Rem got very excited about some particular Cow situation, Jake would sit up, peer out the windows (in what I always thought looked like a nearsighted squint), and then lie down again and return to slumber.

This weekend, we were driving back from the central valley over Pacheco Pass. As we approached the valley, we passed a couple of aggregates of Cows, and I hurt all over at not having anyone to point out the cows to. Suddenly, moments later, Jake sat up, looked out one window, then the other, and--seeing Cows--watched them intently, his head moving slowly to follow them as we drove by. He sat up for the rest of the drive through the rural valley, looking out one window, then the other, following Cows with his gaze whenever we passed some. Once, I saw that he was looking opposite to where another Cow bunch were grazing, so I pointed and said, "Look, Cows over there!" and he turned to look.

I don't know what it means. The scientific part of me says that it's all coincidence or possibly a dozen other things. But both of these episodes were as comforting to me as they were heartbreaking, which is a difficult combination of emotions to get my grasp around.

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