Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Carnivore by the Fire



Through the years, my dog at the time seems to find its way into my writing.  Of course the phrase, 'my dog at the time', barely touches on the relationship I have had with my dogs, as most dog people will immediately understand.

Our current dog is a nine-month-old Golden Retriever called Bodie.  He is from the same line as our great, late Ollie, who was the model for Forty, the dog described in the excerpt below from my yet to be published novel, Summerland.

We'd lived with  mature dogs for many years so the rearing of a puppy has been, well, sometimes challenging for us.  Isn't challenged the appropriate word for being half-crazed by something?  It's getting better as we remind each other every day.  The words, 'where is he?' and 'No!' are no longer uttered at ten minute intervals, although we still have the challenges of anyone with a teen aged male in the house.

He moves just like John Travolta did in Staying Alive, all snake hips, swagger and attitude. He approaches his toys with a slinky, wolf-like walk that always startles me.  Ten minutes later he can be happily snoring in my lap, but I can't quite shake the fact that this enormous and beautiful pup is also a carnivore who is related, albeit very distantly, to the wolf.

Current thinking is that early man first saw the animal that would become the dog lurking beyond the campsite, scavenging for whatever it was early man didn't deem suitable for his own consumption.  I can only imagine it too moved like John Travolta in Staying Alive, but that animal's intentions were far deadlier than grabbing a tennis ball off the rug.  It probably weighed around fifty pounds, maybe half of that early man and it had huge teeth and jaws that could exert a thousand pounds of pressure.

It most likely took years, maybe generations of eyeballing each other before someone reached out a hand and said, 'hi boy'.  (Okay, maybe they said something else or maybe they found some pups and reared them, but I'm writing this so it's my call.)  Right now, Bodie is asleep on the rug, snoring softly, his fur still damp from our morning hike in the freezing rain.  It's just like our own version of the Peaceable Kingdom, and I'm glad that one of our ancestors from the dim past was brave enough to invite the carnivore to the fire.

Summerland -Excerpt
Even if somebody didn’t like dogs, they fell in love with Forty, that was what her father said and he said it so often that it was accepted as the truth. Jonas said there was something in Forty’s face that made people see what it was to be really happy.  The dog had that black-rimmed smile of all the Goldens, but in Forty’s smile a person could see all the sunny days, snowy mornings and squirrel chasing and beside-the-fireplace sleeping that accounted for that black-rimmed smile. Her father said that just looking at Forty was enough to make you feel that it was the best right now that ever was. Sometimes when he said that, she couldn’t help but wonder if he was talking about Karen because it was said with such wonder in his voice.