Red and I had a great day together. We began herding, Red sat on the lawn with Frieda, we went to the Battenkill Bookstore and he waited for me on the bench, we went to the New Bedlam Farm to check out the barn, we took the old sheep out to graze. I don’t know about him, but my legs are sore. Red is a great dog, you can just about shoot the moon with him. I might. Album going up on Facebook.
Tuesday night we drove into a very impressive and foreboding storm on a road near the farm. I looked to see if trees were down, as the wind was blowing, but I caught the headlights of the car to the right and the onrushing clouds above, as if to frame a painting. I guess it was a painting.
Warren talks openly about nearing the end of his life, but he is quite vibrant, upbeat, focused on what he needs to do to stay independent. I am always struck at the impact a dog has on a person near the edge of life. In my work with Izzy, I saw person after person light up, open up, cheer up at the sight of dog. There has to be something primal, something ancient in our need for these creatures and in their ability to comfort us, even when we are dying.
I saw this with Red Sunday when we went to visit Warren Caldwell whose wife Helen Izzy and I visited before she died. Red has a gift for these work, and I wonder at why I have been chosen for this – to have two dogs who take to this in this way is just not probably, it is a miracle. It is meant to be. It is clearly something I need to do.
Karen Thompson saw it in Red and I, that is why she gave him to me. I can do a lot of good with Red, and I will.
Over the last few years, I’ve paid attention to how farm animals work to keep the very nasty, biting and relentless horse flies out of their eyes. Cows stand next to one another, head to toe, and one cow’s tail flicks the flies off the other’s head. Donkeys do the same thing, also shaking their head back and forth. Sheep burrow their heads in one another’s fleece.
And so every morning, every night, I make this promise to me:
I will not live in fear.
I will not be a hollow man.
I will not live a small life,
taking my tests, checking my bank account,
talking about my health,
complaining about my life.
A man sat in a chair the other,
complaining about his life,
and “ain’t it a bitch growing older,”
he said, and I said,
no, I love my life every day,
and promise to live it in gratitude and
appreciation and love.