Thursday, January 29, 2009

a day at the beach

The work is a mile high at school: a hiring committee, a lecture on my relationship to art histort, a panel on working as an artist, and 2 classes that overenrolled. M’s birthday was this past weekend and his gift was an overnight at the coast. For me that means many hours of preparation to leave the house in suitable shape with clear instructions for the care of the animals left behind.

But we had a swell time and the cabin we stayed in, right on the ocean, allowed dogs, so Maudie had her first trip to the beach.
We inspired her to a few moments of zooming and then she settled in to walk right beside us, only veering off to inspect the grasses at the edge of the sand for a moment or two before coming back. Like the corgis she insisted on finding a spot inside the grass and way off the beach itself on which to poop…I imagine it’s the same impulse that makes the herding breeds so easy to house train.

We thought of Gussie a lot. It would have been lovely to have him there too, and he would have had a great time. M talked about sitting with him inside his coat on a cold day at the beach. The paps love the beach as well as any other dog…and probably more than Maudie, but Maudie is an ideal traveling companion and measures her joy by how much she brings to us. To see her in that beautiful light was magical.

I have been thinking about breeds in relation to M. I hate the idea of his dropping out of the training world without Gus; I have loved having him be a part of it with me; we could share experiences in conversation as well as in actuality. It was fun to go to shows together and I loved watching him work with Gus in class. He may not be able to work another papillon—which is one response to his loss—and it gives me a chance to dip into the other breeds that HE loves: big poodles, little dachshunds and to think about the way he trains and the temperament and height that might bring him a different kind of engagement than Gus did. Because on Gus’ terms…he would be damn nigh impossible to beat…or match.

There is always the prospect of another collie, a stellar match. Although I am partial to roughs, if it were up to me I’d go for a smooth tri…. because I like smoothes best as tris and because I find the rough coat a little overwhelming. But it wouldn’t be up to me.

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