October 25, 2016
Winter is my dog. Or better, I am her person. She adopted me after we became acquainted on my daily walks to one of the meditation sites at the Open Air Meditation Sanctuary (OMS). Alia and I lived here for a bit over six months and now we have departed for our next destination at the Meadowsong Ecovillage in Oregon near Eugene.
Daily I spent an hour or more, up to three hours on some days, at site 4 drinking my coffee, reading, writing and just sitting on a beautiful raised platform in the midst of the lush Ozark woods. Winter started to come with a stick in her mouth, asking me to throw it for her. Sometimes Raja, the older fellow of the two dogs at OMS, would join us and sit more or less quietly, unless visitors came to one of the nearby sites and then she would greet them barking. Winter, of course, followed the example of her older mentor and barked as well.
Winter is a highly sensitive and intelligent collie-type dog that has the potential to be trained to do almost anything. She has a strong drive to work, to do whatever her person asks of her, and fetching sticks is clearly the lower end of her capabilities. But to her, at least fetching the stick or ball gives her the sense of working. She is ‘on task’ pretty much the whole time she spends at site 4 with me. Every so often she comes very politely and brings the stick closer, letting me know that she wants to work again. Then usually there follows a cycle of three or four throws and then she returns with the stick placing it further away – off the platform on the ground. Then she takes the ‘guard-point’ posture until I either motion that I’m ready to throw again, or she brings the stick closer again. At times, when I am sitting quietly ‘letting the grass grow on my tongue’, she, too, will relax completely.
Over the months we bonded as good, affectionate friends. Sometimes our interactions were even intimate, when I think of the tender devotion with which she sometimes would place a small stick into my palm very gently, or allow me to take a bit of what was left of a stick directly out of her mouth from between her teeth because it was too small for her to hold on to with her mouth.
Then she caught on that I was going to be leaving, and since then (the past 6 weeks or so) she wouldn’t leave my side, fearing I might not come back from the next room. Her night quarters were then outside our bedroom door.
Leaving this morning was truly heart-wrenching for both of us. Alia and I were picked up by Eureka-Taxi’s vintage Cadillac limousine for the trip to the airport. Winter came to the door with the last stick and I had to refuse to throw it and tell her now I was going for good. She ran next to the vehicle all the way down the long lane, barking with anger and pain at the separation. I wished I had thought to bring a last chicken-jerky treat for her, but I had forgotten in the good-byes etc. of the last minutes.
There are good people there for her, especially our dear friend Blue Star. Winter will, however, have to see who the next person will be that she adopts as her very own special person whom she is so in need of.
Goodbye, dear Winter, my furry friend!
p.s. When the TSA officer at the airport asked me how I am doing, I told him about Winter and we had a nice exchange, while he was checking me through.