Singleton Dreams: Shedding in the Bedding

These are the dog days of summer–long and extreme. Not the kindest summer, either. My extended horse family has suffered some huge, sad losses and a few chronic health issues have flared up in my own barn. It’s a bumper year for hurtful drama, flies, and humidity; something we try to avoid here in Colorado. To tell the truth, it just hasn’t been a giggling, tap dancing, high-spirited season.

The thing about stress is that it doesn’t matter if it’s good stress, like my book, Stable Relation, coming out, or bad stress like doing without the pasture turnout while repairing flood damaged fences. Stress is a slow motion weight at mid-afternoon that makes your shoes heavy and your brain thick. It’s like a sticky winter quilt in August, but we still need the rest.

Readers tell me it’s time for the seasonal corgi report. Enough small talk of world issues, horse training, and human angst; time to focus on shorter legs and louder voices.

Walter and Preacher Man are having a summer, too. The water in the bowl has no ice. The duck work is endless; the way they speed-waddle after flies needs to be watched constantly. And then the bunny population has exploded; there’s a farm-wide illegal immigration problem that must be addressed. Job related stress has never been higher, but the little men are Corgi Tough.

Walter is much too busy to whine about his terminal diagnosis(here), but his anxiety seeps out. He’s anxious about meals–all five of them every day. He’s anxious about feeling weaker–so he’s trying to act stronger, like a tiny man who needs to let the world know how crucial he is to world order. We tell him we know, but he’s still working double shifts. Walter has an existential dilemma: is he is living a lie? This is a dog ailment that goats and politicians never experience. It kept Walter awake, bounding to the back door with an ear-splitting caterwaul every hour or two, night after night. Finally, I closed the door to the crate Walter sleeps in. We should all lay down our daily worries as easily. His snoring tells me it’s possible.

Then Preacher Man, who was sleeping under the bed like a snapping turtle under a riverbank, came out–and one unlikely bound put him on the bed. It surprised all of us. There was already a dozing Briard, Tomboy, and maybe a cat or two with all the stupid-wild danger that involves. Preacher curled up in the only space left, between my ear and the edge of the bed. That next morning, I woke up to a to a soft gargling moan. Safety required that he keep a sleepy eye on the door, so it was his feathery backside pushed up against my cheek. If you are going to sleep in a dogpile, these things happen.

 I used to think that Preacher Man dreamed of being an only dog. That he fantasied about the two of us on a desert island with only a couch and all the raw food he could eat. That his frantic howl-oodle-ing was an attempt to clear the room for his only child fantasy. Seen that way, all the dogs could fit the same description, not to mention a couple horses, a few old cats, and one particularly eloquent donkey. In a certain light, maybe they all wanted to be the singleton; the heir apparent. I give everyone one-on-one time but was I kidding myself?

Disclaimer: I’m the human here. It’s a disadvantage. I think too much. I’m alternately wracked with self-doubt or so arrogant about our herd that I march around like a prickly yucca-goddess of the high prairie. It’s the dog’s job to rein me in and remind me of the truth. We will always be ruled by dogs.

As this exhausting summer has worn on, my perspective has changed. I’m probably nuts; just write what I am about to say off as anthropomorphic hogwash. Recently all the barking and fending off of daily farm danger seems to ring with a different message. I think I’ve had it backwards. What if they see me as an only person. Their only person. What if I’m the real singleton? The little corgi men have lost a few humans in the past, as rescue dogs all know, so tag-teaming me seems the smart thing to do–in the bathroom and out in the world. To them, it’s all about herding the prize. Me.

I have a big day today. I need to be alert and articulate–and I’m not sure I’m up to the task. But I slept in a dogpile of passion and persistence.

They say behind every great man is a woman. Well, I’m not a great man. I’m a tired woman and my feet hurt(here), but here stand two yapping and frapping corgis. I am their singleton and they have my back. Marvel at their power! Corgis can light a city; they can yodel a prairie opera. Die hard optimists, these corgis are. And not at all fearless, but they act that way. I’ve learned it from them. May I return tonight victorious–with liver treats and beer!

So fair warning to evil-doers and curmudgeons: I’m running on corgi power today. The other word for that is invincible.

Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.

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