Sunday, April 23, 2006

Dog Five

Dog Five wasn't my dog at all.

5. Tasha was three quarters wolf, the rest Alaskan malamute. When I first met her I was wheeling my firstborn son in a stroller up a very bumpy hill enroute to the town that loomed above our little river cabin. Tasha stirred all my primitive wolf fears; I am certain my Finn ancestors had encounters with her species; I grew up hearing of carriages in snowy landscapes that overturned--and then, the wolves came.
So seeing Tasha, my first words to her were a sincere "Please do not eat my child" as I warily moved carefully around her.
Tasha merely blinked her gold eyes.
As the months went on I realized that all was not well in Tasha's home, where she lived with a woman to whom she seemed strongly bonded, the woman's husband, and a new baby. There were also a few cats.
Tasha's house was close enough that I could hear the angry voices, and the sounds of glass breaking, the terrified screams, and the silences that were scarier than the screaming. Another neighbor called the police. There were a few nights like that.
One night, baby in her arms, my neighbor came to me and told me she was running for it. She feared for the child's life. Her face bore evidence of a recent beating. "Please--I can't take the animals--do what you can for them, watch them". What was I to say but "yes, of course". I never saw or heard from her again; I trust she and the child made it to safety.
These were the days of Phoebe the basset, and my cabin was tiny, barely large enough for my son, myself, Phoebe and Gwendolyn the large tabby who liked to sit in the bird feeder, charming birds into her mouth.
And, as I say, Tasha wasn't mine.
But she came, day after day, to sit on my porch. And she brought me an injured cat, a pregnant injured cat, gently in her mouth. When I asked the man whose wife had left him about the cat he admitted he'd kicked it, breaking the spine. But that's another story.
And in time Phoebe met her end, and Tasha still came, and circumstances dictated that I move to the forest cabin.
My landlady said "and you'd better take that wolf with you, or I'll shoot her".
I spent several days sitting with Tasha, talking with her. She'd never worn a leash. I didn't know if she'd been in a car since puppyhood. I showed her the leash. I told her I would make certain she was safe, but she needed to go with me when the time came.
Dear, beautiful Tasha. I don't think she ever stopped missing her person. Our relationship was one of grave respect and tolerance. She moved to the forest with us, and so did the spine damaged cat and her surviving daughter. For many years she was part of our family, sitting during nice days staring into the woods, thinking wolfish thoughts. One day I was out tending the roses when she walked down past the garden and suddenly cried out, one short cry of pain, and was dead. We buried her near the place she fell, beside a lightning struck oak tree.


At April 28, 2006 3:09 PM , Blogger a dracul said...

oops hadn't realised you had that wolf fear thing, wolfs don't eat babies, just like dogs don't bite humans, sometimes they eat a picasso, i really hadn't read this about the wolf thing i wasn't trying to be all anyway what i am talking about i don't believe in reincarnation

At April 28, 2006 6:10 PM , Blogger jarvenpa said...

don't worry. Tasha cured me of wolf fears (that, and reading Farley Mowat)

At April 29, 2006 1:10 AM , Blogger a dracul said...

i am sorry you definitely made up that name Farley Mowat it's as believable as Man Ray. so what do men call you? it's like asking for a photographic impwession, if you don ask you don get ordinary human curiosity.


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