12 September

The Joy Dog

by Jon Katz
The Joy Dog
The Joy Dog

I’ve often said we get the dog we need, and that many of us are blessed with spirit dogs, lifetime dogs, dogs of the heart that enter our lives and mark our passages in life. Orson came to get me out of an unhappy life and on my hero journey, Rose made me feel safe to life alone on my farm, Lenore was the Love Dog, she kept love alive for me when I most needed it, Red brought me back to therapy work and stood alongside me as I lived my life.

Now, another remarkable dog, Fate, I see that she is the Joy Dog. She loves life, every bit of it, every walk in the woods, every moment of sheep herding, every person she sees, every body of water, every meadow, every dog, every stick and toy, every bit of food, every hour sitting with Maria in her studio or walk in the woods.

Her joy is infectious. She came to us at a difficult time. We battled for four years to keep the first Bedlam Farm from foreclosure, and hung on long enough so that the bank could sell it for itself. We wore ourselves out with stress and challenge, we lost three dear animals in one bitter winter – Simon, Frieda, Lenore. We have difficult questions to face about our future, our home and our life.

The winter itself was brutal and exhausting and draining. We were tired, weary. Fate came into our lives this Spring like a joy bomb, she got us moving, thinking and laughing. She loves to ride with us in the car, navigating, wagging her tail at every passing human. She loves to wrestle with me, and my herding work with  her has rekindled and and refreshed my love of that ancient practice.

Fate loves to sit with Maria in her studio, bringing her bits of fabric, peering out the window, rushing out to race back and forth in the yard. There is nothing she does that does not bring her joy and absorb her boundless energy. We needed Fate, and she came when we needed her, as all the great dogs do, and became the dog we needed. In her wake came Chloe, and new ideas and new excitement about the future.

Animals can mark the passages of life, Fate has helped bring us from one phase to another.

So she is, for us, the Joy Dog. She will not tolerate anything else, nothing else is possible in her boundlessly enthusiastic and loving presence. She is the perfect companion for mellow Red, the two are inseparable. She has enriched his life as well. When a kind friend from Florida sent me a notecard with Marcel Proust’s wonderful poem on it, I thought instantly of Fate. “Let us be grateful to people (and animals) who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

That’s the Joy Dog.

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