Monday, August 29, 2005
How many dogs?
“How many dogs do you have?” is the question that carries that disapproving intonation. As a single woman, presumably, I am only entitled to one, or perhaps two, if we admit that dogs need company during the day.
I do agree that four was too many, and particularly when the fourth was the Evil Buppy, a Newfie mix with something unaccountably aggressive, a wild youngling that took on Toby and left him with gashes and rips in that startlingly fragile Rottie pelt. Toby is actually a Rottie/Shepherd cross, or so I was told by a woman outside a Chinese restaurant on Seventh Avenue in Brooklyn, and she assured me that she knew the truth of his ancestry by looking into his deep brown eyes.
The Evil Buppy, transmuted into mild Clyde, now lives with twins and their mom in Atlanta. He is an only dog, as he was always meant to be, and he guards them with a ferocity that is unknown to Newfoundlands and a gentleness unknown to the other parts of his heritage.
But two is good, and three was okay. I will soon have three dogs: Max, the 11-year-old shepherd with artificial hip, heart murmur and buoyant outlook; serious Toby, the 9-year-old Rottie/Shepherd cross; and Baby Cassandra, my first purebred German Shepherd.
So when people ask me, “How many dogs do you have?” I will reply, “Three.” I know that this number is all too temporary. I hope that Max has plenty of opportunity to teach the little girl a thing or two and to come to trust that she will be able to take care of us. I hope that she keeps Toby guessing, hopping, off balance—keeping him young for a few more years. I hope we learn again how to walk on a leash, come when called, and romp in Vermont fields. I hope I have three dogs for a long, long time.