A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Taz Throws Her First Party

When Taz was a puppy, she was friendly with all the dogs on the block. Esmé the Gordon setter, Gretel the short-haired pointer, Cora the Jack Russell, Zorba the German shepherd, Emma, Lala, and all the rest. As she got older, though, she became more protective and territorial. Now when we take our walks, she lunges at doorways of homes she knows have dogs inside, barking ferociously. She'll tussle with any dog she gets within nipping range of.

Imagine my surprise, then, when she greeted Maggie's new beagle, Mr. Lucky, with nothing more than a curious sniff. The weather was nice, a few neighbors were sitting on a stoop, and I could actually linger and chat despite having my usually-hyper companion animal along.

Mr. Lucky is an older dog, picked up as a stray, overdue--when Maggie found him--to be given that shot from which you don't wake up. We call him a beagle but he's a mutt, probably as much basset as beagle, mournful eyes and a tail prepetually tucked between his legs. Humble, innoffensive, apologetic, a sad sack of a dog. Irresistible. Taz obviously found him no threat at all.

No sooner had Mr. Lucky gotten comfortable in his new household than Maggie stumbled on another "beagle," this one a sassy little bitch. Miss Rose had been given up for adoption, and apparently had been spared some of the trauma that had shadowed Lucky's past. She was as confident and outgoing as he was submissive and meek. Somehow, though, perhaps because she was Lucky's housemate, Taz accepted Rose as well.

This was great. Now we didn't always have to change course when another canine came into view. Now we could take walks together, even have little play dates. I could visit with Maggie and the dogs could be included.

This weekend, Maggie had the rare opportunity for a getaway with her jetsetting husband. So Taz and I got to beagle-sit for a couple of days. Taz was a polite, if somewhat standoffish, hostess. Mr. Lucky and Miss Rose were a little bewildered at the sudden change of domicile. Lucky cowered at the sound of Amir's deep voice, and Rose tried to shoot through every open doorway.

This little canine pajama party was a trial run, a learning experience. I learned that 1) three dogs is too many to walk at once, if they're not all trained to a lead; 2) leashes should always be clipped to the sturdy ring on the collar, not the flimsy little one that holds the dogtags; and 3) beagles really do bay.

By the end of the weekend, everybody was pretty comfortable. Lucky's tail was starting to wag, Rose would "stay" on command and not follow me through every door, Taz was sharing her special rug. I was sitting at my desk, working, with a pile of dogs curled up at and on top of my feet. The beagles are welcome back any time, and I think they'd like to come.

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