Tuesday. Well my rule is when 3 people bug me about the blog I have to write something. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it’s just that I don’t have anything (much) new to say. It feels like I’ve said everything, I’ve done everything, I’ve forgotten everything and then said it again. This blog is almost 10 years old! Even old windbags like me run out of air eventually. But this morning I was inspired by my best friend and companion HRH Higgins. Every day I learn something new from him.
Yes to the unsuspecting visitor or random hiker in the woods, Higgins may appear to come off as the spawn of Cujo. But in everyday life Higgins is very quiet. He will come inside (still on his chain) and just sit there for a half an hour making no noise — just sitting upright and staring at me as I work on my computer. He’s so stealth that I often don’t hear him and when I do turn around I am taken by surprise. He appears to be willing me to turn around. It must work because something makes me turn around.
This weekend the neighbor’s dog Hadley escaped both Saturday and Sunday and instead of terrorizing the dogs on the north, she came South over to our yard. Of course Higgins went crazy but he gave me enough warning that I was able to bring him inside before the 100 lb whatever crazy breed (kind of Bermese Labrador?) came bounding into our yard looking for something to destroy. The entire family from next door came running across the field yelling for their dog. It was quite comical because there was no way they were going to catch that dog. Higgins wasn’t barking he was just observing like at a tennis match — his heading going back and forth between the comedic players chasing Hadley back and forth across the field. Occasionally glancing up at me as if to say “have you ever seen anything so ridiculous?”
We’ve never had a problem with Hadley before. But all afternoon yesterday Higgins sat in the patch of pachysandra outside my office door just staring at the neighbor’s house. Waiting ever so patiently for Hadley to come back. This was his project, his one and only objective was to make sure he was prepared should Hadley cross that stone wall into his domain. I looked at him with such admiration. What amazing focus. I can’t finish one programming update without flipping over to facebook, checking my email, turning on the dishwasher, checking the dryer, examining some abandoned widget trying to figure out what the heck did this belong to, only to turn back to my program and think now where was I. And Higgins never moves. He just sits and stares out into the woods and beyond waiting, just waiting for anyone or thing to come near the house.
When we go for a ride Higgins sits in the passenger seat behind me. He sits straight up. He doesn’t move, he doesn’t make a sound. He just stares out the window. (Twice I have been halfway to Hartford only to realize he was still in the back seat and I had to turn around to drop him off at dog camp). When we pull into a drive up window they always comment on how quiet Higgins is. I always say, “it’s not that he is so quiet, he is waiting, he is observing what is going on. He’s gathering intelligence to use against us in his master plot.”
This morning I had a little fun with Higgins which is what prompted me to write this blog. It gave me a chuckle so I hope it would give someone else one as well. Tuesday the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) comes and delivers my weekly share of veggies (I know, nice, right?) so I like to put some ice in the cooler outside. The moment I open the kitchen door, I hear a huge thump of Higgins jumping off my bed. I hear him come to the top of the stairs but he waits and listens, he doesn’t come down. He waits to see if I’m actually going outside. If he hears the next door open that means I’m going outdoors and he is in the dining room staring out the window at me before I can shut the porch door. If, however, he doesn’t hear the second door, he stays perched at the top of the stairs because he is going to back to bed if I’m just emptying the garbage or something. So I put my hand on the kitchen doorknob and open the door. I hear creak, he steps down one step. I come back in and shut the door. Creak, he goes back to top. I open the door, creak he steps down one step. I shut the door and walk around the kitchen, creak he goes back. This is totally cracking me up. I walk into my office and sit down at the computer, bump bump, I hear him jump up on the bed (he only sleeps on my bed when I’m not there otherwise he sleeps on his dog bed next to my bed). I am actually laughing out loud. It is not worth his effort to actually come downstairs to see if I am leaving. (And btw if a burglar comes, he would stand at the top of the stairs and bark and expect me to go down and do the actual defending). But this is castle time for him. He owns the bed right now and this is huge for him and he’s not giving up his castle unless he is sure that I am packed and ready to go. But God forbid there might be a chance I’m leaving without him….
What I admire most about Higgins is his attention to detail and his undivided focus. I meditate every morning and struggle with the different clouds that pass through my blue sky of attention. Not Higgins. He settles right in and meditates right next to me. If open one eye and look at him, he opens one eye and looks back at me. When the little chimer on my meditation timer rings he gets up and stretches. He has an agenda for the day. Defend this house against all intruders including rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels. Go play with his dog friends for the morning. Lunch and nap and then remind me every day at 4 p.m. we must go for a walk in the woods. Otherwise he is just waiting and watching, one eye always partially open. Sometimes I want to be inside that head of his. Is there comfort in that clarity? Is there calm in that focus? Ah me, it’s quarter to nine, I’ll be late again, have to stuff all my papers and computers together into a bag and get Higgins off to exercise. I’m scattered and unfocused and sometimes filled with a strange anxiety. I can’t always put my finger on it. It’s this unsettled feeling because I am not focused and not in the moment. I am fragmented. I have so many ideas floating around in my brain, I need to ride my bike or get into the water to get the focus back.
I am very blessed because I have a great dog. Sometimes I wish I was a dog — actually I wish I was a dog owned by me, that’s what I really wish.
“You are the sky, everything else is just weather.” — My gal Pema Chodron