Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A decade of love

Ten years ago this month on a night very much like tonight I was sitting in the living room of the house that PonyExpress and The Ex (hers) built, toasting my toes under the body of The Ex's dog, Oscar. This may seem like the information from a steel trap of a mind but it's an easy trick because at some point during that chilly, rainy night the phone rang. It was Pony Express.

"Is The Ex there?"

"No, I think he's..."

"OK, um, put Oscar in the back yard. I'm bringing home a dog. If The Ex comes back tell him...just tell him."

She had been working at BAX all day (before it was BAX), while a plethora of artists moved in and out of the space. When she slogged in that morning there had been a dog sitting on top of the stoop of the warehouse next door. All day dancers and choreographers and fighters and videographers wandered in and out commenting on the dog.

She was cute.

She was friendly.

She was submissive.

She was hungry.

She was really wet.

People called her and she came. She came slinking down the steps and across the sidewalk on her belly, flat to the ground, ears tight against her head. Then she gave them her tummy to rub. But if they asked her to follow them to a car she wouldn't go, she would crawl back up onto the stoop and sit again.

An avid choreographer/dog lover wanted to feed her. Unfortunately she only had a PowerBar on her. The dog was OK with that, swallowed it in a gulp and retreated to the stoop again.

By the time Pony Express was done with her work day this dog had been sitting on that stoop in the cold, driving rain for well over 12 hours. (I say 16 but I've been known to exaggerate and I'm trying to reform.)

Pony Express had a friend sit in the passenger seat of her car, she approached the dog, picked her up and sat her right in the friend's lap. This dog shivered and shook and possibly cried for the entire 7 block drive back to the house. I'm not sure how they got her up the stoop and into the house, she was wearing a tiny, bedraggled knotted purple leash made for a dog a third her size, looped around her neck. It was useless.

When you came in the front door of that house you walked in an inner door and then were facing the stairs up to the kitchen. When they came in I sat on those stairs and watched this little dog, who cowered by the front door where she'd been brought in, visibly shaking. In about 20 seconds I heard a voice in my head.

"Her name is Emily."

I told Pony Express.

And we sat there and watched her some more.

We couldn't decide if she was a puppy or an old dog. She felt like a puppy but her furrowed brow made her seem old, we didn't know anything about guessing dog ages. She stood unassisted on her back legs and used her front paws to try and manipulate the doorknob to open the door and escape from us. We took her into the back yard and tried to rig up some sort of shelter for her. We hadn't had her checked out by a vet and we didn't want The Ex to bust us for endangering his dog. This dog we had, she methodically tried all the access to the basement apartment, methodically circling the door, window, window, back to door. The back yard was enclosed but you can still hear all the other yards. When a dog would bark 6 yards away she would frantically try to escape.

The downstairs tenant finally came out and heard our tale of woe and saw how ridiculous our shelter was and offered to keep this dog with her for the night. For all that the parting with that tenant was not good I will always hold a special place in my heart for her. Because that PowerBar? She had to clean it up. Three times. In the middle of the night. Bless her.

Next day Pony Express and The Ex took Emily to the vet. According to her teeth she was six months old. She knew to sit. We suspect she'd been taught to stay but we haven't been able to get her to do that again, and with good reason I think.

Two days after she came home we had a party. We had the dogs out in the back yard. We were pimping her out a bit, seeing if someone would adopt her, so The Masseur came early. Pony Express opened the window to the back yard and showed him the dog. His face when he touched the soft fur of her face is always with me. It was as though he melted. She would have loved him, too, except she was fully focused on the window and what was inside.

She had some food issues. For months she would eat her entire meal in less than a minute. We timed it. If you watched carefully (like at a car wreck or a fire) you could see the front half of her body swallowing and the back half regurgitating. Fortunately the front half always won but this war was grimly fascinating.

When The Masseur came back in she saw her opening. This dog who was afraid of noises and movement and people and animals and wind bolted over The Masseur, past 4 people, through a small library and into the dining room, got up on the table and ate 4 pieces of chocolate cake before we could wrestle her to the ground and get her back outside.

We'd be here all night if I told you all the stories. And you would never come back to the blog ever again and I would hate that. So, it's been 10 years since that rainy cold day in October. Em (Emolina, Embollism, Radar, Bubba, Pretty Girl, Embely Pembely, Emster) moved out of that house with me a couple of years later and, aside from a few sojourns with Papa Kizz and P she's been with me ever since.

Isn't she beautiful?

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