Suddenly everyone in my small neighborhood is getting a dog. We were dog-free for a short period after a couple with ill-behaving mutts thankfully moved. But those mutts were replaced by a sweet poodle when a new neighbor arrived. Now the boy on our road has a beagle and our neighbor across the arroyo adopted a shelter dog.
We look at our well-loved cat and ponder if we should do the same. But as I remind Hank, think of the coldest night here and having to walk the dog on a leash. We can’t let a dog walk freely because of our other neighbors — coyotes.
In my life, I have had wonderful dog companions. As a kid there was Banjo and Abigail. As adults, we had Sheena, a black lab mix who came with that name and responded to it, and Sadie, a sweet golden retriever mix. The kids loved them. We loved them. They lived with us as part of the family.
Let me tell you about Sheena. Her owners left her tied up when they moved away until she broke loose and found our compost heap. Her owners said we could keep her. When they came to drop off her bowl and a chain, she didn’t even acknowledge their presence. Sheena knew better.
She came pregnant, we found out later, and after the litter was born, we had her spayed.
Sheena came with habits. She liked to wander the neighborhood, which was heavily wooded, visiting every dog and home. She knew where there were handouts. She was the alpha dog and all the dogs bowed to her as if she was indeed a queen. She enjoyed rolling in cow manure at a farm up the road. She enjoyed manure, period.
And she sat regally amidst the hubbub of six kids playing inside.
At the time I worked as a reporter at home. When I wrote at my desk, Sheena slept beneath my legs. As soon as I turned off the computer, she got up and found something else to do. Her job was done.
When Sheena died, I grieved longer for her than I did relatives I loved. I felt the same way for Sadie, but this is Sheena’s story.
By the way, Sheena is a character in my first novel, except her name is Louise. The main character, Frank, names his country bar for her. She has a pivotal role.
Last week, I watched the finale of the Westminster Dog Show. Such grand animals but, alas, too pure and pricey for my likes. Give me a mutt like Sheena any day. There are certainly plenty around.