My Canine Love

Weekends, even when I’m inclined to linger in bed a little longer, Tetley, my Cairn Terrier, gets me up. Now that he’s an older dog, he’s more of a sleeper himself, staying curled at the foot of the bed later than he used to. But he’s still going before 9, sidling up beside me, nudging me with his wet nose. I can buy myself more lazy time by scratching his ears and usually, he’ll rollover onto his back so I can rub his belly. Soon, squirming upright, he shakes and starts pawing at me, sometimes punctuating his gentle punches with little guttural pleas to get the hell out of bed.

Tet color profile

Especially during these winter months, I’m inclined to hibernate, but Tetley gets me outside a few times a day – at least for a walk down the street. I feel the weather, taste the air, notice the changes of the seasons, the comings-and-goings of the neighborhood. I pay attention. This morning the roads were slick with black ice so I stepped carefully, walking only on the snow covered part of the street.  He pees his way up and down the street, sniffing and sometimes barking at phantom or real squirrels. These days, with the branches bare, I watch the birds – Nuthatches, Cardinals, Woodpeckers – darting around the wood. Mourning Doves were perched around like clergy waiting for their flock to show up on this Sunday morning – I still hear their insistent cooing an hour later. I look up at the sky – today, beautifully blue and clear after yesterday’s snow. At night, I watch the stars, where the moon is, whether waxing or waning. These little jaunts, I notice the world in a way I might otherwise not. Thanks to my beloved dog, these walks become a kind of meditation.

Tet on wintry walk

Tetley is getting old. Molly was in second grade when he entered our lives and now she is in college. He’s the only dog I’ve ever owned – my only canine love and as true a love as I have ever felt. I purposely forget his actual years – we’ve been saying ‘about ten’ for awhile now.  Small dogs can live quite long lives and I trust (and pray) Tetley lives to a very ripe old age. He’s still fit, although his teeth aren’t great and his breath smells like a swamp. He prefers not to have to leap up on the bed anymore, (I lift him) and he sports a distinguished white goatee. Recently, we’ve noticed he gets underfoot and I’m beginning to wonder if he’s just a tad blind. That’s okay – I’ll lead the way, aging too with my aching love for him.

tet glasses

Off the Couch



Do you ever wake up with great intentions to be productive – for me that meant writing, cleaning, organizing – and then spend most of the day lolly-gagging? This was the kind of morning and early afternoon I had. For a start, my blogging intentions went down the drain – instead I spent my morning reading dubious internet news and gossip. Waiting for the kettle to boil for another cup of tea, I chiseled away at the weekend New York Times.

Outside, even though the sky was blue-blue like it hadn’t been all week, the wind howled. The house felt chilly so I pulled blankets over me and picked up the book I’ve been reading, Canada by Richard Ford. I wish I could say I loved it — but it was a bit of a shlog. Still, I wanted to know what happened to Dell, the narrator. I gave myself permission to skip over the draggy bits. More than once I thought I’d lost my place, that I was rereading something I’d already read but that’s just the way Ford wrote it. Anyway, done with that.

At this point, with the sun was pouring in and warming the corner of the couch where I sat, Tetley, cuddled up next to me, I thought I might snooze. But then the pooch began to paw me, asking to go out.


I bundled up against what sounded like a bitter wind, clicked Tetley’s leash on and headed out where it turned out to be gorgeous. The wind was indeed whipping, but the warmth of the sun made it feel good. I took a route through wind protected streets, enjoying the shadows and the fresh air.


Walking briskly with my beloved dog, the air filling my lungs, I looked around my neighborhood, marveled at the light, the knotted vines and felt glad for this winter day and that I got off the couch.



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