Monday, December 11, 2006
Lots and lots of dog posts lately. Chet is an anodyne to my life, which seems to be on fast-forward. He's much more fun to write about than the constant Brownian motion in which I find myself lately. I spent a second day today chipping away at the Herculean job of getting the house back in some kind of hygeinic order. The last time I did a deep clean was the week before we left for New Mexico, eeep! Granted, it was empty for two weeks, but that just lets the ladybugs pile up. I swear most of what I vacuum and sweep and wash away is ladybug parts. Tonight when I was serving a nice stew, I asked the kids if they preferred it with or without ladybugs in the bowl.
So, if you'll suffer one more, here is a post about Chet Baker, because today is his second birthday! I thought you might like to see Chet as a puppy (who wouldn't?). For those who haven't delved into the archives, or hung on every Chet Baker entry for the past year, I bought Chet online, sight unseen, on the strength of a single phone conversation with his breeder, Jane Streett (who has since become a treasured friend). We had second pick of a litter, yet to be born, that turned out to be comprised of only two puppies. Fate smiled on us, and we got this little apple-headed butterball who, as Jane put it, "has more personality in one toe than most puppies have in their whole bodies."
We named Chet Baker for the legendary jazz trumpet player and singer, who spearheaded the cool West Coast sound of the 60's, 70's and 80's. We were tossing names around, me pushing a few Irish names that I'd wanted to use on Liam, when Bill said, "I dunno, I've always wanted to name a dog Chet Baker." And that was it. Bill has a gift.Like all babies, Chet slept a lot, and the kids were only too happy to provide tummy heat. I don't know a dog that's had more attention than he has. My father used to say, "Attention makes the pup." He usually used it to refer to children. Which is interesting, because I remember following him around trying to get more of his attention, and fitting myself into his hobbies just so we could talk. I wasn't the only kid who did that; he had a Pied-Piper effect on several neighborhood kids. I think it was because he DID things, fixed things, collected things, worked on things, built things. Someday I'll collect his sayings in a little book.
muttering, rambling...where was I?
He makes us smile. He makes us laugh out loud. And man, he was one charismatic puppy. Yes, that is a tube sock--he was that small. We called them sausage casings. This evening I told Bill that I had had a hormonal morning (I think he may have noticed without my telling him). Who are you, and what have you done with my wife? But I confessed that there was nothing wrong with me that gnawing on Chet's muzzlepuffs wouldn't fix. Seriously. I get down on the floor and chew on my dog. We roll around growling and gnawing on each other and whatever was bothering me goes away for awhile, banished by pure animal energy. I love the way he smells. I know all his little looks and sounds, and what each one means. Even a sneeze, a tilt of the head, has social signaling value for a dog. I once bonded with a Yorkshire terrier I'd just met simply by tilting my head and sneezing at him. He got the joke and I would have walked out with that dog if his owners hadn't intervened. More important, Chet knows all my moods. Wherever he is in the house, if I need him, he appears. Not long ago I was reading a book that ended badly, and I stopped reading and silently put my head in my hands. From away down the hall I heard the miniature thunder of paws on carpet, and Baker burst into the bedroom and took a flying leap into my lap. He set about washing my face as only a Satchmo-mouthed Boston can. Message sent, message received. Thank you, Chet Baker, for two years of unalloyed joy in your presence. Live long and well, sweet dog, thoughtful guardian of my heart.
Posted by Julie Zickefoose at 9:01 PM