So cold the snow crystalized, a weightless carpet of white gleaming diamonds in vivid moonlight and again in the even colder morning wringing moisture from the air. Thank you, Rabia, for getting my lazy bones up and out of the cozy warmth and into such radiant splendor.
Rabia is my lab-golden retriever mix who I have mentioned before but perhaps not by name. Rabia of Basra was a fifth century Sufi mystic, whose name comes from her having been the fourth daughter. In Arabic, ‘rabi’ means fourth. Besides having a soft spot for Sufi poetry, this Rabia is my fourth dog – all females. In kindergarten I brought home a stray female dog we eventually adopted, my mom repeatedly proclaiming she would never have a male dog. I never tested her wisdom.
Cat owners are a hidden and secretive lot, we only see the relationship between them if we are invited into their homes, and then only if the generally introverted feline deigns to make an appearance. Dogs and their owners can no more hide their relationship than The Three Stooges.
Anyone who has observed Rabia walking me knows there is constant bickering between my intention to be in control and her nose, whose intention is to not be limited in any way. She is also more extroverted than Bill Clinton and wants nothing more than to play with any dog she sees, regardless of whether it shows any interest in her – and even when it shows only belligerence. It is also embarrassing how much exuberance she wants to show other dog-walkers whether or not they want attention. It is especially awkward when Rabia excites another owner’s dog, who then begins to act like Rabia so that the human thrashes at the owner’s end of the leash.
In my neighborhood, surely like yours, there is an endless and ever-changing multitude of dogs walking their humans. There is an elegant greyhound-human couple who walks in step with one another and whose grace I envy. Someone in an automated wheelchair zooms past, led by a small lapdog running at a frantic short-legged pace; their silhouette makes it appear as if the tiny dog is pulling its owner like a team of huskies. Rabia’s friend, Kaylee, a black Labrador, is a match for her exuberance but we only see her in the wee hours of the morning. I also envy the sagely German shepherd at one with her peaceful owner, strolling together seemingly without a care in the world. A petite snowball we only see in warm weather, appears to sashay in smart and perky style as she leads her mom or dad down the sidewalks of life. Then there is yet another black lab, long-legged and masterful, who guards its female owner with a clear boundary around them both. But the giant labradoodle knows no boundary as she takes her owner for a ride each day, the human following uncertainly in her wake. So many resident dogs.
68% of American households host a pet: 60 million dogs and 47 million cats. The current resident of the White House is the first in 130 years not to have a dog. Democrats: Forget about bringing back the alienated steel workers and coal miners and focus on uniting dog and cat owners instead – we would be an indomitable coalition!