A Dog’s Eye View
In Memory of My Partner in History, Place, and Writing
My newsletter this week is shorter than usual. Although I think about and work on it throughout the week, my main drafting time is Monday morning. This Monday morning, I said my last goodbye to the dog I shared my life with for nine years. This broke the routine – and my heart.
Yet, this newsletter is about reflecting on history, place, and writing, and my dog, Samadhi, joined me in doing just that. So maybe this short memorial works for The Wild Card in tangential ways. Read on!
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Presence and Absence
My work has allowed me to spend more time at home than many people, and that meant I graded hundreds of papers, read hundreds of books, and wrote hundreds of pages with my dog at my feet. This morning as I read, I stretched out my legs and didn’t touch her body. I’ll continue to sit and work at the desk, but I’ll feel that absence.
Besides a footrest at my desk, Samadhi walked beside me as I figured out lectures and discussions or writing problems. She thought all my ideas were the best and would undoubtedly work well! We all should be so lucky to have such loyal companions who stand ready to hear the next thought with enthusiasm and without judgment.
Samadhi was confident and friendly. My spouse always calls her disposition “sunny,” a perfect descriptor. These are not necessarily my core personality traits. But she lent them to me often.
Perhaps no more so than outdoors on the trail. I am a homebody by nature, but her disposition encouraged me to get out more than I would have alone. I’ve recently written about stepping outside my comfort zone; Samadhi helped boost me that way.
At times, the entire family pack traveled, but often Samadhi and I traveled together, just the two of us. We saw (and she smelled!) many beautiful places. I’ve walked more miles with her in designated wilderness than with anyone else. And the miles piled up in state parks, national recreation areas, and just in nice local spots.
When I look at photos from these adventures, she is usually ahead, breaking the trail. I can recall details of so many of these adventures, even after years. I’m confident that these memories are enhanced because a companion gives you a different view of the same experience. A stream crossing with a dog differs from one when you are alone. Scrambling up rocks presents limits and opportunities with a dog. Because of Samadhi’s presence, I noticed more and that, I think, has made me a better writer. I credit her.
Not One-of-a-Kind, but Yes, One-of-a-Kind
I know I’m not the only person with a special dog. Or the only writer who works with a pup at their feet. Or public land lover or walker who can go much farther when four feet keep time next them them. I make no special claim on our relations.
Well, actually, I do: Samadhi was the best. Give your pet an extra treat and extra hug and a longer walk today. We are privileged to share our lives with them.
I’ve written nothing else about Samadhi. But her life overlapped with everything I produced for nearly a decade.
This week did see one publication of mine. I’ve been fortunate to connect with a local organization working closely in the agricultural community, Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland. I wrote my first story for them about a program that hopes to improve conflicts between birdwatchers and farming. It was a pleasure to research and write; check it out.
As always, you can find my books, and books where some of my work is included, at my Bookshop affiliate page (where, if you order, I get a small benefit).
Taking Bearings Next Week
Thank you for your patience with this slight meander from normally scheduled Taking Bearings content. Next week, I intend to resume with The Classroom, although the topic is a bit up in the air.
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