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My Life Is My Career

Christine Maccabee

Serendipity: My Mixed-up Mutt

When I saw the nurse holding four gorgeous puppies in her arms after a medical exam five years ago my heart melted. They were all in need of homes, immediately. The question was, did I really need a puppy? To be sure at that time in my life I did need a friend, and my old dog's best buddy, Thoreau, had recently died. I believe two dogs are better than one. Dogs need dogs, like people need people, right? Well, just as it is important to be careful which people you incorporate into your life, the same applies to dogs. That being said, we never really know what adventures or problems we will face in the future until after we make our choice, grow to love the beast, but later learn he/she has some very nasty tendencies which are hard to live with.

Such was the case of Dipity, short for Serendipity which means "the accidental discovery of something fortunate, pleasant, valuable or useful". I puzzle over who was indeed the most fortunate, valuable or useful to whom, she or me? I must also question my wisdom in asking for the largest female, part border collie and boxer, that day in the doctors office. In the future I will surely be slower to chose the breed of dog as well as its size and background, for therein lay the source of all my difficulties with her over the last five years. The same goes for choosing a partner in life. The romance of it all can blur one's good judgment. However is this not the stuff of life? The risks we take are for our learning and hopefully for the betterment of everyone concerned…hopefully.

Dipity's mother died in childbirth and so was hand-fed by a group of loving women who cuddled her against their breasts, kissed her and let her kiss them. So as Dipity began growing into the largest female I ever owned she expected me to kiss her and hold her all the time too. I do not kiss dogs and never enjoyed doggie kisses on my lips as do some of my friends. Also my dogs always live outside on our 11 acres, coming in the house only as a way to control their barking, not to sleep on my couch; my bed, or on my lap. Besides that, she is too big to be a lap dog even though that is just what she wants to be. It took a great deal of patience working with her tendency to put her feet on my lap while I tried to rest out on the porch. I guess she wanted her arms to be around my neck or on my chest as she was so lovingly trained to do those first 8 weeks of her life. Old habits are hard to break.

Lest I only focus on her difficult qualities, and I have just scratched the surface here, let me tell you how very soft and silky her ears are and how much I enjoy caressing them. She also has been great company on my daily trips down to the chickens and the ducks, running joyfully down the hill, full steam, to run circles around their pens. Due to her border collie genes, she was great at cornering any chicken escapees, though in the frenzy of my catching the bird she too tried to put her paws and mouth on it. With strong verbal demands on my part, she learned, I thought, how not to touch the chicken with her teeth or her feet. However, I am convinced that she thinks of her feet as hands, having been raised by humans who used their hands and arms all the time, touching her, picking her up…I do believe she thinks she is human. It has not been easy for her to learn that she is indeed a dog, and that in the human world, at least in my world, there must be limits to her behavior.

This winter, what with all the cold, ice and bitter winds, I failed to fix the part of the chicken wire fence that had a few small holes in the lower portion. As was my habit, I would let Dipity out of the house first thing in the morning while I busied myself dressing and drinking the essential coffee. When the weather is warm I always go out more quickly with only shorts and a top, but when there is sleet and wind in 20 degree weather it takes much longer to don my several layers of clothing not mention gloves, socks and boots. As you might guess, one morning a chicken turned up dead outside of the pen. Not being too quick to judge, I patched up the holes with pieces of wood, but 2 weeks later another chicken was found dead after a horrific wind and sleet storm blew down my wooden plugs. I am convinced Dipity was simply trying to catch them with her huge, powerful hands, just as I did. She was copying me!

How Dipity wound up tied at the doghouse for two days with a chicken necklace around her neck to cure her of chicken killing is a story for another chapter in this book of my life. I have had many wonderful dogs in my life, but none so dramatic as Dipity. However, I also believe that she was fated to be here in our valley running free and joyous rather than confined to a small backyard where she would have created a path of mud a foot deep on the inside of the fence. She is a huge, active, sweet-natured dog, and she may have wound up in the pound by now if I had not found her, serendipitously!

Sorry, but I really have to go. One of my ducks has been quacking regularly off-and -on over the past two hours so I must check on it. Don't worry…Serendipity is quietly resting on her bed by the fire…good dog!

What a relief to finally be able to say, "My LIFE was my career!"

Read other articles by Christine Maccabee