My earliest memories include her dogs. There was Maggie, a non-descript, black dog with silky, curly hair and a long plume of a tail. That dog raised my two younger brothers. Well, she thought she did.
And there was G-Co (pronounced like the letter ‘g’ and co was short for “company.”)
G-Co was a parti-colored cocker spaniel that my mom named after my dad’s West Point company. I don’t remember talking about how this puppy was going to become a part of our family. Nor do I remember house-training episodes or how we introduced her to Maggie. She was just there and, at night, she slept with me.
Prudence was a black and white, medium-sized dog that my mom named after “Prudence Penny’s Cookbook.” She was a happy dog that liked to dig. We were forever tripping into the holes she dug in the backyard.
By the time we got Kelly, my mom had decided that taking at least one of her kids along to pick out a puppy was okay. I got to be that kid. Kelly was the product of an Irish setter-Golden Retriever accidental mating. She looked like a black Irish setter and she loved to run. I used to take her up to the college and unclip her collar from her leash at the edge of the playing fields.
This dog was poetry in motion; so fluid and swift. She was a fast streak of black shadow covering ground like a rocket. Endless stamina, she could run for hours when she was young. She always kept her radar up for where I was. My job was to be the scent anchor. Her job was to run free.
Kelly running was that space where words disappear and emotion spills over the precipice. She showed me the pure joy of being in the moment. Her moment was always that stretched out explosion of pure speed.
When I became a mom, I began to understand my mom’s love affair with dogs. I’d watch my son trudge into the house after a long, tough weekend of stupid bosses making unreasonable demands. Tessa, one of my dogs, would crawl into his lap, curling her small body into his.
No words; just the warmth of a dog melding herself into his physical space. All the comfort and reassurance that things would get better were in their close embrace.