By Dark

Camil Tucan, via Photopin. Creative Commons license.

Camil Tucan, via Photopin. Creative Commons license.

By Dark

W.S. Merwin

When it is time I follow the black dog
into the darkness that is the mind of day

I can see nothing there but the black dog
the dog I know going ahead of me

not looking back oh it is the black dog
I trust now in my turn after the years

when I had all the trust of the black dog
through an age of brightness and through shadow

on into the blindness of the black dog
where the rooms of the dark were already known

and had no fear in them for the black dog
leading me carefully up the blind stairs

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Merwin! Who can be compared with thee?

My biggest fear

I feel like I can say this here and be heard with compassion and understanding, even though I still feel afraid to say it.

I want to tell you my biggest fear, the potential moment that causes me the most dread and anticipated heartache.

So, biggest fear: I am afraid that if and when we have children, we won’t be able to keep Pyrrha.

I can barely even write about this without wanting to cry, but it’s been weighing on my mind and heart lately — even though I still think we’re a few years away from having children.

Pyrrha is extremely afraid of children, especially small ones. This has been a long-standing phobia of hers. The first family that adopted her returned her to the rescue after just a few days because of her extreme fear of their small children, which had the potential to slide into aggression. Without my intervention, I think she could have bitten several children, and she has already nipped my cousin, which I saw as a serious warning (it was not playful). She is overly interested in toddlers, and not in a sweet way, but in a way that makes me extremely nervous, so much so that she is always crated behind a closed door if there are small kids afoot. I cannot trust her in any environment in which children are loose. Kids themselves are unpredictable, but her behavior around them is not encouraging. She is able to coexist in a room with calm, quiet kids over the age of 8 or 9, so long as they don’t try to interact with her, but that seems to be her limit.

I adopted Pyrrha heart-first, not thinking very rationally that we’d probably have children one day and that her phobia of them could pose a problem. I wasn’t even thinking about the future when I saw her; all I saw was a sweet, shy, beautiful dog who needed a home, and I said YES and didn’t think anymore about it.

Regal

Practically, I am thankful that we have great resources, in our trainer and in her connections to behaviorists, who could help us navigate the perils of simultaneous child- and dog-rearing. I think Pyrrha could learn how to adapt to a home with noisy, scary little humans, but she wouldn’t be happy in such a home — and we’d have to really limit her life and interactions with the family to keep a child safe. And I don’t know if I could live with myself, seeing her so removed from our lives. Naturally, this is all very subjective and hypothetical, but I don’t think I’m overstating my fears — or hers, for that matter.

If I’m honest with myself, Pyrrha is one of the main reasons I haven’t wanted to have children. Because I know how unhappy they would make her.

The thought of having to give Pyrrha to someone else, to a stranger, KILLS me, as much as I’d feel if I had to give my own child to a stranger. Furthermore, the thought of surrendering her back to her rescue, who would slap a shock collar on her as soon as they could, makes me want to pull a Beloved. Yes, really. (English majors will get this reference? It’s too dark/sad to explain…)

Obviously, I’m not going to make any decisions about her future before we have children. Who knows? Maybe the miraculous will happen, and she’ll be able to coexist in a household with small kids. I don’t even want or expect her to like children, because I don’t think that will ever be possible; I’d just want her to feel happy and secure and have the wherewithal to remove herself from stressful situations. Naturally, we’d protect Pyrrha AND our potential child. But part of me wonders if it would be possible to do both simultaneously, as I’m not sure Pyrrha would ever be happy in a home with small children.

I don’t think I’m looking for any answers, necessarily, but I’m always happy to hear counsel. This makes me heart feel so heavy.

Man and Dog

Maurice Sendak and his German shepherd Herman. Love. #gsd

Maurice Sendak and his German shepherd, Herman.

Man and Dog

Siegfried Sassoon

Who’s this—alone with stone and sky?
It’s only my old dog and I—
It’s only him; it’s only me;
Alone with stone and grass and tree.

What share we most—we two together?
Smells, and awareness of the weather.
What is it makes us more than dust?
My trust in him; in me his trust.

Here’s anyhow one decent thing
That life to man and dog can bring;
One decent thing, remultiplied
Till earth’s last dog and man have died.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Good old Sassoon! Remember reading him in English class? All those sad poems about WWI? I like this one much more than the battlefield ones. (And isn’t that photo of Sendak and his dog sweet? He had German shepherds all his life, apparently.)

Happy Friday!

Pup, your breath stinks! (TropiClean Fresh Breath review)

See this cute little face?

Pretty, crazy baby

Don’t let her get too close to your mouth. There’s a reason why I’m not one of those people who lets her dogs lick their faces copiously, and it’s called coprophagia. Charming, right?

Pyrrha is an occasional poo snacker, but Eden can be downright compulsive. She can be called off if she’s caught in the act, but we are not out in the yard with them every second. Guion, the faithful spouse that he is, scoops poop every day, but we’re going to miss some. I aim to brush their teeth at least once a week, but I admit I can miss the regularly scheduled brushings.

All that said, I’m always eager to try dental chews, toothpastes, and additives, so we were happy to receive a review sample of TropiClean’s fresh breath water additive for dogs.

TropiClean Fresh Breath Water Additive | Doggerel

The product claims to:

  • Reduce plaque and tartar
  • Reduce risk of periodontal disease

There’s no brushing involved, and you add one capful of the additive to every 16 ounces of water (usually amounts to 2.5 caps in our giant water bowl). The formula has aloe and green tea in it, and the product it also made in the USA. We’ve been trying it for about two weeks now, and I daresay Eden in particular has sweeter breath. I haven’t noticed any difference in the girls’ plaque or tartar buildup, but I think the aroma coming from their mouths is noticeably less foul!

This product is on sale right now at Chewy.com for $10.99 for a rather large bottle (33 oz.). There’s also a smaller version (16 oz.) for sale, if you wanted to trial it before a bigger monetary commitment.

Do you have a poo snacker in your home? Have you ever tried a water additive for breath?

Disclosure: We were provided with a sample of this product in exchange for our honest review. All opinions are mine and unbiased by any companies.

My Dog Is Named for Elizabeth Bishop

{the fashionable dachshund} photo by Patrick Lichfield, 1964

Patrick Lichfield, 1964.

My Dog Is Named for Elizabeth Bishop

Robyn Selman

October. The first pricks of cold air in
the city morning. We walk, Liz and I,
up then down in the same uneven line.

Her ears as sharp as sharpened pencils,
she pulls me along her wayward travels.
She darts out headlong, paces ahead,

coming and going and leaving again,
the way shadows seem to meet the tops of heads,
dissolve and are newly elongated.

We like the early, early morning best.
Our view is, thankfully, how we left it.
Nothing has stirred yet, the news lies unread.

Except for the weather, it’s all so still,
and no one is walking out of our world.

. . . . . . . . .

Appropriate dog-walking poem for the season! I love how it captures that silent peace of walking your dog in the morning. I also love any pets named after great poets!

How have your fall walks been with your pups?

Happy Friday!