A Dog’s Life

We’ll call her Libby, I decide, it’s perfect, a non-specific derivative of liberty bell, libro/library.  Perfect, as if naming a dog will make everything else fall into place.  I’ve brought her home from the shelter Labor Day weekend; school begins on Monday, and it’s Saturday morning.  I’m certain we’ll have everything squared away by then.  She seemed so docile in the shelter, full of licks, demurely cowering in the corner.  Once we get her home though, and she understands the lay of the land, the game is on!

She is crazy!  My mother-in-law is living with us, and at 80, not 100% steady on her feet.  Libby displays a bit of awareness as we herd her away from slippered feet and tether her to the wrought iron room divider.  My son has graduated from college, come home for one night, spent it with his friends, gotten about five hours sleep, and departed for a new job, in a new city 1200 miles away.  Libby is my replacement.

I could wax loud and long about training and restraining and the day I asked my vet in tears if I should return her, but enough.  Turns out she’s a terrific walker, and we log mile after mile in the early mornings before school and every afternoon.   Unlike our lab Hershey, the dog of my son’s childhood, who actually was as chill as she first appeared, Libby is not a water-lover.  That’s okay with me.  Dealing with a wet dog after every trip to the bay I don’t miss at all.

Fast forward six years, and we’ve settled on the edge of the Pacific.  Libby’s down to one LONG walk a day and a bunch of you-tube worthy, high-leaping catches in the yard.  And she has become an insane bird-chasing beast.  Who cares if the gulls taunt her from a football field away?  If they career overhead?  If they convene on waves, heads bobbing beyond the shallows?  She is unfazed.  She barks and runs, and plunges, me onshore thinking, “There’s no way I’m going in to rescue her if she gets in over her head.”

Yesterday she’s doing her thing and has run half a mile up the beach, gulls kiting, her invisible string pulling her along.  My husband and I have lagged behind, resigned.  She’ll return, and maybe she’ll be tired.  We do pick up the pace a bit though, so it looks as if we have some sense of responsibility.  A woman passes us, pauses, and turns to follow our gaze.  Libby is streaking down the beach, head up, water flying in her wake…chiding those gulls with her bark, bark, barking—fully focused, joyful in pursuit.

“Man, if only life were that simple” she says, shakes her head, and continues her walk.


5 thoughts on “A Dog’s Life”

  1. Your final bit of dialogue was so satisfying. But it also made me think about the enormous responsibility we take on when we adopt a dog, and always with incomplete information. You worked hard to get her where she is, even though she was much more than you bargained for. She’s lucky to have found you.

  2. This does sound like quite a life! I like that you told us a little bit of background but mostly focused on the description of Libby running down the beach. It’s a small moment, but it seems to encompass her personality well.

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