Morning with my Dogs

Morning with my Dogs

 

Morning with my Dogs

The shadow that sits astride the trees on the eastern ridge changes from pink to gold. Old dog nudges my hand as I watch the darkness retreat. My mind is free, not yet cluttered with pressures of the day ahead.

I smile, knowing today she will be ready. The vet said she was ovulating three days ago. He was wrong. My stud dog is never wrong.

My thought leaps to the conclusion that I could save money and frustration by listening to my stud dog instead of the new veterinarian.

Why am I suddenly at odds with the decision to breed this bitch? Is it because I shrink from the responsibility of a new litter? Is it the long obligation to strangers? Maybe this isn’t sudden, just suddenly acknowledged?

The pink turns into gold, the sky awash in molten treasure. I smile in gratitude, but my mind is still stuck on worry.

So, what is it? Too many years doing the same thing? Am I like so many of my friends, just weary of it all? Do I really need this litter? Am I willing to be house-bound again for weeks?

The golden sky becomes translucent and quickly transforms into that famous Carolina Blue. I shrug, somehow less impressed. What is wrong with me?

Slowly, more stealthily than the day itself, reality confronts me. Should I keep a puppy at my age? Common sense says, “No,” but not to be dissuaded. This keeps murmuring in my mind. Then why do the breeding? I don’t need the money.

In my thoughts, the new vet laughs. Yeah, maybe I do, no pet insurance. Not funny.

The silent clarity of a new day is ruined by the clatter of my thoughts. I am torn between “doing dogs” for sixty years and wondering why I do it at all.

The silent clarity of a new day is ruined by the clatter of my thoughts. I am torn between “doing dogs” for sixty years and wondering why I do it at all.

Pushing it away, I head for the kitchen. Coffee will help. I’ll not go back to the east window. Not now. I’ll just go let the dogs out early. An unexpected treat for my little friends.

Cup in hand, I go out to the patio where six surprised faces emerge through the flaps. They never bark or disturb me until it’s time to go out. Then, the slippery sound of the patio door is like a fire alarm to firefighters! They burst through the dog doors, joy in their hearts. “It’s morning, we can bark!” they shriek in chorus.

But this early morning, they are unsure, confused, all except the stud dog, already a pogo stick, bouncing up high so that he can catch sight of his lady-love. The others stretch, displacing their confusion, wondering what happened to their trusty internal clock.

I let them into the yard, take my coffee, and go up to the deck where Bill and I used to sit in the early morning. Pushing memories away, I smile at their routine.

Morning with my Dogs
Morning with my Dogs

The little stud dog turns away from his lady-love’s kennel, reluctant but commanded by his bladder.Performing his ritual check of the fence line in hopes that some critter intruded during the night, he trots briskly from post to post, dutifully defining his territory.

How does he measure it so precisely? He is so funny. Such a little man. I sigh as he bounds across the dew-laden grass. I’m no longer worried about staining his whites.

Suddenly, he stops. Frozen by awareness of something in the adjacent woods.

He stands on tippy-toe, nose twitching. Takes a step forward. I’m holding my breath. A few feet away, “Junior” catches whatever scent drifts on the stirring breeze. He too freezes in mid-stride. There they stand. The stallion and the yearling. The pack leader, so magnificent it gives me goose bumps. So intent, radiating challenge, assuring protection.

No camera could capture the snapshot that is forever vaulted in my memory. The topline, the arch in his neck, the strong bones and that incredible rear, not too angulated, not too straight, just strong and flexible and agile and…

Suddenly, he bolts toward the fence, shouting, “Lookout, here I come, I’m ten feet tall and can whip a wildcat!” The yearling matches him stride for stride, fueled with juvenile testosterone.

The girls race across the yard, shrieking, “Here we come, we’ll tear it apart!!!” Then, stopping as though by signal, they rear up on the fence, listening, noses twitching.

The leader stalks over to anoint a post, signaling he has “handled it.” Another duty calls. He gallops back to her kennel gate. Today, the next generation will be conceived.

I am not alone. I lift cold coffee in a salute to God for allowing me to assist in the creation of something so incredible. Life is good. How could I have ever doubted?

I am not alone. I lift cold coffee in a salute to God for allowing me to assist in the creation of something so incredible. Life is good. How could I have ever doubted?

 

 

Morning with my Dogs
By Barbara (BJ) Andrews

  • Barbara “BJ” Andrews is the breeder of over 300 AKC Champions including over a dozen All-Time record holders. She is the author of 8 breed books and founder of 3 AKC Breed Clubs. In 1998 she launched the world’s first public website (TheDogPlace.org) followed by TheDogPress.com and TheJudgesPlace.com which, as part of the NetPlaces Network, serves all facets of dog ownership and exhibition. She and husband Bill pioneered the Akita, Miniature Bull Terrier, and Toy Fox Terrier to AKC recognition and BJ served on the board of each Parent Club. She has judged in England and AKC Specialty Sweeps. She was awarded UKC All Breeds approval but has never applied for an AKC judges license because it could interfere with objective reporting on the sport.

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