Dog Days of Winter

Old Stomping Grounds

Winter is creeping in– seeping in through the cracks in the window sashes. My father has turned the temperatures up in the house to 77 degrees.  I’m working on the Christmas list.

I loved winter when I was a child.  We had a part Samoyed dog named Lucky.  We had named him Lucky by accident.  When we first got Lucky, since he was a mighty dog of the North, we called him Bucky from Jack London’s Call of the Wild. But my mother said that every time she heard us call Bucky, it reminded her of her dear departed Aunt Bucky, who’d been nick-named for her prominent teeth!  So as not to confuse the little puppy, Bucky, too much, we switched to calling him Lucky. LOL.

He was small but white and fluffy with a curled up tail and I’d take him for walks in the fields behind my house. (See the photo up above of my “old stompin’ grounds.”)  God, did I love those walks.  Maybe I’d sing.  Maybe I’d walk silently. Often I’d run with Lucky by my side. In winter, if  the snow was too deep, I delighted in watching Lucky leaping through it while I plodded.  Lucky loved winter too.

There is something very primal about having a relationship with a dog, especially if you spend time together in a primal setting, like a silent, snow cover forest. You feel a kinship, a connection that transcends species, taking you back to an ancient time when humans first domesticated wolves, perhaps for hunting and guarding purposes…in order to survive.

My last post, Learn to be Young, was about longevity.  You hear reports nowadays about “therapy dogs”that are taken into nursing homes or given to elderly folks to simply keep them company.  In fact, therapy dogs are trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, to people with learning difficulties, and in stressful situations, such as disasters. “Dogs add years to our life and life to our years,” says Jack Canfield in Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul.

Indeed, if nothing else, a dog or cat can help connect people with Nature, even when they are cooped up in a place such as a hospital or nursing home. So in addition to the gift of affection that “man’s best friends” can bestow upon us, they can also re-root us to our planet and the kingdom of Nature—a kingdom from which far too many are estranged. In so doing, we breath a little easier; shed some of the existential angst and stresses brought on by the confines of life within four walls with no wind in our faces. “Your walls and buildings of rooms say what?” Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha asks….knowing that while Nature speaks in many voices, the four walls of a room are mute and stifling to the human spirit.

Oh, how lucky I was to have Lucky! Faithful companion and friend.  When I walk tomorrow in the snow and wind, I’ll think of you again.

Just reminiscing,

Elizabeth Richie/ Du’Tsu

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