I watch my dogs play. They are excited because they have both escaped and can romp in the wilds together. They tumble and fight, rolling down the slope, jaws snapping. They are at once both ferocious and loving, their expressive growls filling their throats and escaping as the occasional yip. It would be hard to miss their complete and utter joy.
Because I am concerned that they may get in trouble, run off and chase someone’s chickens, or dash into the road, I catch one. Simon. We are all in love with Simon though we don’t quite know why. He plunders us with his mistakes: trash, accidents, more trash, crapping in the middle of the sidewalk. But he is goofy and quick at the same time, as only a dog can be. He jumps on the sunroom table to watch me through the window. He crawls under by bed to sleep, his paw sticking out from the dust ruffle like a wicked witch’s foot. He opens the gate latch, something none of our other dogs can do. And he sings, mournfully and low, when his sister is frolicing outside and he is not. When I catch him he is panting and excited but is eager for love of any sort. So I pet him and praise him and then bring him by his collar into my studio.
A part of me squirms with the awfulness of it. I have squandered their wild and playful joy for domestic concerns, and in doing so I feel as if a collar has tightened around my own neck. I watch Willow through the window, loping with grace and purpose through the shadows of the rhododendron. Her nose is to the ground, and she is charged with dog-intent, driven by her reading nose. Simon watches too, mournfully whimpering and moaning. At any moment he will break into a long and sorrowful howl. And when he does, I will join him.
Sorry the video is mere photos of the clearly talented Simon.