Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Borealys the Spooky

A dark night, just a few hours past the new moon, and a Great Horned Owl is hooting up a storm. I think it is perched on a snag just east of our cabin. The hooting makes Borealys nervous. She can't potty. She squats to pee, and then the owl hoots. She stands up, her ears on full alert. I assure her that all is fine, just an owl sweetheart, just an owl. She relaxes, squats again, and the owl hoots. Up goes her butt, her ears, and her ridge fur. She is truly spooked.

I wonder if she remembers the days when she was a new puppy, a tiny thing, hardly larger than a teacup. I like to claim that Kayt held her first, fell in love with her first. But that's not really true. Kayt and I had gone to the transfer station to dump a load of trash. There was a woman there, a young mother with a toddler fidgeting in the car, a basket of brown and black wiggles setting on the hood of the car. I wandered over as Kayt unloaded the trash from our truck. Whatcha got there, I asked. Puppies, she said. So cute, I said. I picked up the first one I saw, a brown slip of a thing. A tiny girl, four weeks old, who yawned puppy breath. Who among us isn't a fool for puppy breath? A curious combination of urine, milk, and some kind of strange chemical that draws us to cuddle, to fawn, to stroke, to say to a woman with a toddler and a basket of puppies, this one has a home.

I handed the tiny brown furball to Kayt, and any chance that this puppy would not come home with us melted away.

When she was a tiny puppy, we worried that Borealys would be snatched by an owl, a hawk, eagle. She was so small, so vulnerable. As we walked, we scoured the skies and the woods for danger. We saw lynx scat at Owl Cabin, and Tim saw the lynx one night when he let his dog out. We increased our vigilance. The puppy, everything revolved around the puppy.

Now, suddenly, she is two years old and big and strong. Yet spooked by owl hoots. She's always been a spooky puppy, intense, anxious about odd things. The leash. The car. The bed. The stairs. Floors without rugs. The dark. We have worked past most of her fears, but the owl hoots in the dark, this is something we are just now facing. This strange new danger. Has she internalized our old fears about owls snatching her up? Can she feel my own anxiety after losing a cat to a Great Horned Owl nearly three decades ago? Does she recall her puppy past, when she would have been a mere snack for an owl? Is the Owl Spirit stalking her?

I feel sympathy for Borealys' worries and fears. I, myself, struggle with my fear of the dark--an inconvenient fear here in the Northland, when our entire world is plunged into darkness for nearly half a year. Borealys and I are back inside now, after several anxious, potty-less visits outside. She hovers beneath my legs, her eyes black and staring out the window, her ears perched nearly on top of her head. She nudges my elbow urgently, whining. Clearly, she needs to potty. In a minute or two we will go outside and try again. Together, this beloved brown puppydog and I will face our fears of the dark, of the Owl, together.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I've been trying to leave messages here to let you know how much I like these posts, but the site--or my computer--freezes before i cansend a message.

    So, if this goes through, I want to meet your puppy! And so does Jeter.