Recently my husband and I marked 38 years together. The Third Edition Three Amigos dined on pizza take-out that night and carried the celebration through the weekend with McDonald’s we ate in the parking lot of a deserted mall. These days that’s how we roll.
Early in our relationship we were kids who worked hard at our jobs and harder at good times. As the clock moved on all of our purpose has been well served – including life-meals we did not order. All has been eaten, digested and allowed us nutrition to grow both as a couple and as individuals – even if some meals didn’t taste good going down.
Our relationship has seen everything and more than that and yet here we are. Through it all he remains the half of the whole of us who sees the fullness of the half-full cup first. He listens when I talk about what I talk about mostly – dogs – most especially our dog Boo.
Three dogs have shared our lives – first was Rosie, my better angel who returns, time after time, to save me. Rosie revealed Sadie in a dream and indicated how I would know she was “the one.”
Sadie was next, the mirror that brought me face-to-face with all I did not want to see in myself. I don’t know that I ever loved as hard as I love Sadie. Toward the end of her life I began to call her Boo. Sadie made Boo’s bed in my heart.
Boo arrived two weeks after Sadie left and I intended to name her Rowdy. When she ran to me I knew who Boo was. Rowdy became her secondary name.
Boo has thrust me into rooms filled with doors I had no keys to open. She is the catalyst hurtling us – a fierce, ancient, connection her guiding force – down a crazy Rabbit Hole of Resolution. What a wild fall from – and more often now to – grace the tumble has been.
In July 2019 we hit the deck as an apparent wind we struggled to tack blew us into a room filled with new doors. We opened and closed them all with a charted course of solid conclusion.
Next 2020 blew us head to wind into the “Year of the Shed” – not – the sheepherding kind. Nine months later my lighter self finds the most difficult shed has been completely relinquishing the task of working Boo to Mike. It hurts in a thousand ways.
My husband likened my sore heart to an accomplished baseball player/coach that finds he cannot coach his own son. One day he watches the child connect for a rope to the gap, dig in and claim the extra base standing up, eyes meeting in a moment that is only between them as the world falls away. The wholeness of resolution connects them on a new level of the playing field.
Mike tells me I taught Boo all she knows and that putting it all together is the most difficult part. Though he is sincere, it is humbling and difficult to stand on deck while another sails the vessel you spent endless hours on choppy seas preparing. I realize it was crazy to believe I could train a dog like Boo in sheepherding knowing nothing about it myself. You don’t know what you don’t know – though once you do know – you no longer have an excuse.
At the Farm, I have been working with my friend Kathy’s son Michael and his Border Collie Winston. The work has been a lot of fun – I enjoy Michael and very much understand him. Winston is Michael’s first dog as an adult – he is committed to resolution and to do whatever he can to help his dog. Michael does not realize that Winston, in the way a dog will, is healing him.
Recently we were standing under the pepper tree watching Mike work Boo. I was amused to see “the look” of entrancement on Michael’s face. I know “the look,” have seen “the look” on many a dog owner’s face and have worn “the look” on my own face; people normally do not wear “the look” while Boo is working.
“She’s amazing,” Michael said. A few weeks prior at Dr. Amber’s she offhandedly said to me, “What’s it like when everyone tells you how awesome your dog is all the time?”
I was just as wordless with too many words to get a word out at Dr. Amber’s as I was at the Farm. We watched as Mike sent Boo on an outrun, sweeping perfectly. So pretty.
“I taught her that,” I said to Michael. As Boo neared balance she hesitated, crossed and attempted to bowl for sheep. “I’m responsible for that too,” I said. Dogs sure do keep you honest if you listen. We laughed as Mike moved off, taking the sheep with him and straightening Boo out. The work continued without a hitch, Boo settling in behind the sheep.
At day’s end I was in the duck pen and looked up as I heard the short field gate clink. Boo’s line lay loose on the ground, the muscles in her body filled with the stillness of instinct. Her eye on the stock, she waited for a release as Mike turned his back to her and closed the gate.
Boo was working.
Mike turned and released her with a soft “sshhh” and a short wave. Relaxed though intent, Boo curved off and out. I watched as she moved with steady purpose and – once again fluid and strong – to the perimeter. I stood quietly though the little ram next to me stirred from her pressure and drew Boo’s attention.
As I looked at my dog our eyes met for just a moment on a new level of the playing field where it is no longer about how we got there – instead – it’s all about what we are going to do with it.