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Harry's birthday

It was six years ago today that I drove out to the high desert to fetch home a dog I only knew from his photo online. Six years! I can't quite believe it. I remember how bedraggled and smelly he was, a lump of long white hair with dark eyes peering out. He sat up in the passenger's seat on the long ride home, still subdued at first from the anesthesia (he'd been neutered earlier in the day), then rousing himself to nose through the cassettes I had tucked in the arm rest storage. A born investigator. I told him "No," sternly, and when he looked back at me, uncertain, I petted him and said, "It'll be all right, Harry. You and me, kiddo." When I parked the car in my driveway and got out, he made a quick, panicked jump into the driver's seat -- "You're not leaving me!"

They told me he was two years old, which means he's eight now. Fifty-six in dog years. We're the same age. This is the year our ages cross; after this, he'll always be older than me, this tireless puppy I dubbed "the fastest dog in the West." He's seen the ocean, run wild at dog parks, threatened coyotes, and tried mightily to slip the leash and chase deer. This year, through sheer random chance, he encountered his first hill rat, and two more the same week. He hunted, pounced, and killed them all immediately, in workmanlike fashion, with a single shake; no catlike playing. I could only wonder at the power of his genetic coding.

I wish I could give him more to experience, while he's still playful and adventurous. He loves to explore, but I can't let him roam off-leash because he'll get into trouble. He loves to hunt squirrels (which he never catches; they taunt him from the branches), but again, I can't let him off-leash. Sometimes I read Mary Oliver's descriptions of her dogs running through the woods of Cape Cod and think, "If only." I'm still trying to strategize a way to let him play in snow.

He does know he's loved. A few weeks ago a gentleman at the park, well-dressed, with a French accent, watched as Harry made the acquaintance of two other dogs, and noted, astutely, "Harry thinks he's a star." I'm not sure how he picked that up, as Harry was simply sniffing at the other dogs in that evaluating way they have; but I've no doubt he's right. And no doubt I've given Harry every reason to think so, for I praise him extravagantly when I pet him.

Meanwhile, he stands guard over me when I'm ill, and if I cry he presses himself against me. Every day since he arrived, he checks the perimeter of the property, watching for threats to the homestead. When his little sister barks from another room, he comes running to save the day. (Although a brilliant dog in other ways, he has not yet figured out that sometimes she barks when I'm making a fuss over him and she's jealous. He invariably leaps out of my arms and runs to confront the threat. There's no trace of deceit in his body; when he's jealous he simply sulks eloquently.)

And every year he gets older, at a furious pace.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jane_bluestocking/6882662312/in/photostream/lightbox/

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( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
digitalwave
Mar. 31st, 2012 07:55 am (UTC)
It's so hard to believe it's been six years since the day he came home with you, sweetie. He still has that same old soul in his eyes that I saw shining through in that very first picture you showed us way back then. He has always had a hero's heart. :)
suricattus
Mar. 31st, 2012 09:28 am (UTC)
Happy Birthday, Harry!



And yeah, the crossing-agelines thing is always a bit sniffly.. Pandora is 14. She's gone from being my baby-girl to being the household's Old Lady...
dolimir_k
Mar. 31st, 2012 11:38 am (UTC)
I cannot believe it's been six years! Wow, it seems like just last month!

You did a good thing with Harry! And his sister! And I've enjoyed reading about your adventures!
oracne
Mar. 31st, 2012 02:08 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday to Harry! I am so happy that you found each other.
aynatonal
Mar. 31st, 2012 03:15 pm (UTC)
Six years! Amazing. He's such a bunny and I'm so glad you're together. Happy Birthday, Harry!
codyne
Mar. 31st, 2012 03:43 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday, Harry!
(Deleted comment)
coloredink
Mar. 31st, 2012 06:57 pm (UTC)
How time flies! He's gorgeous. :)
equesgal
Mar. 31st, 2012 09:19 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday, Harry. And happy day to you too, sweetie. Can you even imagine your life without him now? '-)
raincitygirl
Mar. 31st, 2012 10:04 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday, Harry!
_swallow
Mar. 31st, 2012 10:10 pm (UTC)
Six years! Congratulations and good luck for many more years. This entry made me well up a little.
thepouncer
Apr. 1st, 2012 04:24 am (UTC)
I hope Harry will be like my Kirby, who was still vigorous until a few months before his sixteenth birthday (his last, which still makes me sniffly). Bichons are a delight. I'm so glad you found Harry, and that the two of you have wonderful adventures together.
amber_32random
Apr. 2nd, 2012 02:55 am (UTC)
Happy anniversary! I remember that picture of Harry and the cone of silence. How things have changed! May you two have many more happy adventures together!
tehomet
Apr. 17th, 2012 08:50 pm (UTC)
Happy belated birthday, Harry! May you both live long and prosper.

Please pet him for me.

luthorienne
Nov. 18th, 2012 02:39 am (UTC)
You and Harry are lucky to have one another. Bless you both.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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