I’m in love with my dog. There’s really no other way to express it. He’s a former pound-puppy, rescued from the Humane Society at 5 months, now grown to 120 pounds of pure, unadulterated love and devotion.
When Dakota went off to college five years ago, and my nest was disturbingly empty for the first time since I was 22 years old, I knew I’d never be able to face life alone unless I found a dog to share it with me. Not just any dog, of course – it had to be my perfect dog, because during a long and circuitous life, I’d been blessed by the gods with perfect dogs, as well as a couple of clinkers, so I knew the difference.
For a year, I hounded (please forgive the pun) the Humane Society and ads in the local paper – for a year the perfect dog was nowhere in sight, as it seemed the only rescues available were pit bulls and they were never a breed that called my name.
So I put out an all-points bulletin to Mother Nature – Gaia as I call her – and asked that the perfect pup be sent, promising to love and to cherish till death do us part. And that’s when the miracle happened.
On my birthday four years ago, I was driving down the Post Road past the Humane Society, when I saw high on a hillside, a woman in a wheelchair walking a five month old pup with the body of a young wolf and the face of a bear. I knew in a heartbeat my prayer had been answered. I flew up the driveway because that puppy was The One – the embodiment of two of my totem animals in one fluffy, four legged package.
I was told the woman in the wheelchair adored the pup, but couldn’t keep him any longer because he was growing too big for her to handle due to her disability. I offered to share him with her going forward, but she demurred, saying it would be best to cut all ties, as she was planning to move away from here due to her illness.
So Kumo became mine…perfect love from the get-go.
Cloud or Wolf
Kumo, which means Cloud or Great Wolf, depending on who you talk to, is an eccentric. Dignified, elegant, goofy and playful, protective yet so in love with people he tries to climb on every lap that will let him. Trust me, not everybody wants a 120 pound dog to do so, but surprisingly, some are quite good natured about it – mostly those who grew up with Wolfhounds, St. Bernards, Newfies or Akitas and have no fear of being squashed by a hefty ball of love and fur. His name tickles me because he looks like a wolf but has the personality of a cloud – like Ferdinand the Bull, all summer long he loves to sleep with his nose buried in a flower bed.
Call of the Wild
Dakota says he’s a Wild Thing who lets us believe he’s a dog so he can live with us to be our friend and protector. But sometimes he longs for the wild – I see it in the sudden forward set of his ears, listening for sounds I cannot hear, in the longing I see in his eyes when he peers into the woods beyond our property where the deer, foxes and wild turkeys tease him with their presence. In the fact that he can jump a five foot fence with gazelle-like grace from a standing start, if the chase is on. In the delight he finds in burrowing deep into the snow, tossing it high into the air and catching it in his mouth or on his nose, then lying happily in a snow cave of his own construction as if 10º temperatures and howling winds were a gift of the Snow Gods. I hear it in his howling wolf-like into a ferocious storm or baying at the fullness of the moon.
Yet, he also dances merrily with Dakota, six feet tall on his hind legs, sings his roo-ing song to tell us everything he feels, like giving me hell when I’ve left him alone for a day because of a meeting in New York. He doesn’t like to bark much, but if danger threatens, he has a voice like thunder and channels his wolf forebears with a wild strength and agility that was originally bred to guard an Emperor.
Do such dogs as this provide the protection we longed to find in a husband, I sometimes wonder? The loyalty and love so seldom found in humankind – so comforting in its unselfish kindness – so unblemished in its loyalty.
I’ll leave that answer to the shrinks, but this I can tell you without question – and I’ll bet every dog-lover in the world would corroborate the sentiment – Unconditional love has a whole lot going for it.
© Cathy Cash Spellman/The Wild Harp & Co. Inc 2013