Friday, December 25, 2009
Duke's Christmas Day
Another Christmas dawns and I am still alive on this old earth to welcome it. There is a lot of snow on the ground, blown into big drifts. The wind is still spinning snow into whirlwinds. I think the only Being happy about this much snow is The Duke. He loves the snow and celebrates in it as if he were still a pup.
Duke was about eight months old the first time he saw snow. When I walked out the back door that morning, he would not follow me into the mysterious white world. He would only peek out the dog door. I was shoveling a narrow path for myself around the house. As I got further away from him, he ventured out to follow cautiously behind me. It was just a few minutes before he discovered that it was perfectly safe to walk in the snow. Once he realized it was just white "stuff" over familiar ground, he was off! He ran in large figure eights, first to the right then to the left. At some point he leaned onto a shoulder and began to plow his nose through the snow, using three legs to power himself along. I was laughing hard at him by then. He was celebrating the snow with perfect dog abandon.
Duke is the happiest being I have ever known. His enthusiasm for life has never dimmed. He still plows through the snow with his nose, stopping only to sneeze a time or two. He still loves to chase rabbits, but the chases do not last long now. I have never seen him with a dead rabbit, or noticed any empty rabbit furs in the yard. He loves to snuffle around the barn, checking to see what critter might be living between the bales. He still loves to snuffle into prairie vole nests and dig frantically after them. I am certain he can catch and kill them with great expertise but I have never seen him actually catch a vole.
He leaves the cats, the horses, and the neighbor's cows alone. He tolerates the chickens, though I get the feeling he does not like them all that much. He does not chase them, but I have noticed that if he sees a chance, (as long as it has the appearance of legitimacy), he will run through them, scattering them into a squawking, flapping flurry. All other wildlife are allowed to exist peacefully in his territory unmolested, including the squirrels. Except rats - he takes rats out like a CIA assassin. (He is not a descendant of wolves for nothing.)
This big snowstorm is a dangerous event during the four day weekend of our country's largest holiday. Many people are going to be killed in car wrecks trying to forge ahead with holiday plans - even though a blizzard should be a valid reason to stay home. People are going to try to get together with family because of their schedules. No one's workplace will let them have do-overs next week. People will try to get to work too because the boss will not accept bad weather as a reason to miss work - though we all should agree it is.
Duke should rule the world. Every day is a good dog day. When it is too hot to chase rabbits, you lay in the cool dirt in the shade. When the boss wants you to stop fooling around and yells at you to report for duty, you just look earnestly at her, then take off over the hill - she knows you will be back. When it snows, you rejoice in it - not drive off into certain death and destruction. When people you love come on your property, you rejoice with wild abandon. When you have irritating friends, you accept them as they are, even if you do not agree with their politics or understand their language - though it is permissible to get a rise out of them occasionally.
Good old Duke - this snow's for you!