Home is Whenever

Home is Whenever

“Do you miss the dog?”

I thought for a couple of steps and then answered Meghan as deliberately as I could, “No.”

I went bird watching this evening, trying to capture perhaps some action at dusk, and settle my soul. My perch was the rentable little red cabin at the bottom of a steep meadow that doubles as a snow sport hill I presume (padded light poles). I rested my rump on the wooden deck and felt the chill of air descending. The sensation of warmth ebbing from the body was so slow that you didn’t feel it happen as much as noticed that it had happened, like thermodynamic hindsight.

At any rate I was hopeful. At least I wanted to be since I haven’t had any success dragging myself out of bed early enough to try this at dawn. Wood Pigeons crossed the meadow, some to the east, some to the west. Passing aircraft headed for Gardermoen outnumbered the birds.

A woman in a red vest followed after her hairy, piebald setter. You would think the dog was walking her. The dog coursed down the wood line, diving in the wood and then running back out, occasionally looking back. He was hunting, the tell-tale crisscrossing action of a bird bog. It was easy to stare, I was watching something as compelling as wild birds.

That’s the trouble with dogs. They are so alluring, dogs give you a sense of the future, hope. You get to project onto a dog your desires, your best attributes, your belief they can help you be a better person. In that respect it is a lot like children. Substitute baby for dog, I rest my case.

What no one advertises is everything else. The indignity of collecting excrement in plastic and then trying to find an appropriate place to dispose of it. All that dirt that gets brought into the house, filthy feet, special food, damaged furniture, terrifying health scares, crazy specialty doctor bills… Responsiblity is neither for the ignorant nor faint of heart. But all you need is a few moments of magic, of love, to erase any memory of woe. Substitute baby for dog, I rest my case.

Earlier today I told Meghan that I don’t feel comfortable in Oslo. Norway is wonderful, but it’s not home. If there’s anyone who would be a perfect match for the Kingdom of the North, ancestors notwithstanding, it would be me. But, well, there’s just something not right. It’s not home. I understand better the Framers’ insistence that the Presidents be native born. Its only been a month though, maybe comfort will be like a true friend: something that builds slowly but lasts.

My dog died of cancer, too young. He was best worst-dog-ever. I said goodbye long before that terrible day in June. The grieving party in the household didn’t need a fourth.

Lambeau loved to sit with women. He wanted to be held, like he was an eight pound lap dog, not the tough, cold water duck hunting dog I picked. A memory of home, of comfort, I have is the smell of my dog, specifically his feet. I would grab and smell a paw, that was his essence. If I think about it, that sense can flood my mind. I do miss that.

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