1 of 2
Musings - Love Me Love My Dogs
2 of 2
Ron Marr: mug
By Ron Marr
Love me…love my dogs
I came very close to leaving the Ozarks a few years ago. I’ll spare you the grisly details, as they really are of no consequence to anyone but me. Suffice it to say that the story involved a woman, a proposed move out of state, and my two elderly dogs. As I’m still flying solo in the Ozarks (with the dogs, whose resumes state something about being lame, blind, and a smidgen incontinent), you can probably hypothesize a reasonable facsimile of what happened. Just fill in the blanks, if you so choose. It’s really not important to know the past, especially the past of others. What matters more is the future.
What matters more than both is the present.
When it comes right down to it, all we really have, the only thing of which we can be certain, is this hour, this minute, or this second. Anything more than that is a roll of the dice. Life is all about disappointment; it’s an unpleasant and unavoidable facet of our existence. But, if one elects to function with more light than dark, life is also about finding the silver lining and understanding the lessons inherent to disappointment.
Mick Jagger taught us that while you can’t always get what you want, you can sometimes get what you need. What Mick didn’t mention was that, more times than not, what we need is also what we really want. We’re just unaware of the fact or afraid to admit it. I’ve become reacquainted with a truth I already knew but had chosen to ignore in the midst of an emotional fog. I am not only where I need to be, I am also where I want to be. Should events have transpired as originally planned, I suspect that my happiness, sooner or later, would have waned. I’m simply not cut out to be a city boy, and my pups are not cut out to be city pups. We are not meant for the loud and frenetic. We are not meant for the status quo or consistent responsibility to others. We function best in places where few feet tread, where the crack of a limb or the caw of a crow causes ears to perk, heads to snap, and eyes to widen. We are at our peak when we take one day at a time, thinking, pondering, and beholden to others only on a sporadic and voluntary basis.
Perhaps that is not the way of the world, but it is the way of my world. There are few words that hold more wisdom than “to thine own self be true.” My corollary is “to thine own self and thy dogs be true.” As I write this column, the nights are cool; the days are on the cool side of warm. There is movement all over the Mark Twain National Forest, with which I share a border. During the day, creatures both large and small skitter about in preparation for winter. At night, the screech owls set up a never-ending chorus. You have to hear them to believe it, but their most frequent song sounds a bit like a young colt with a head cold. The coyotes are just beginning to howl—a mournful wail broken with yips and yelps of pure ecstasy.
The bugs, thank God, will be dormant as soon as we get one good freeze. I can’t wait for that, as my main job over the summer was serving as a buffet table for ticks, chiggers, and mosquitoes. The copperheads and cottonmouths are looking for a more temperate haven, which is dandy by me, as they were thick as thieves this year. Acorns and walnuts are falling with reckless abandon, splashing into the waters of the Gasconade and peppering my roof.
It is true; my dogs won’t live forever. Henry, the red dog, could last a day, a week, a month, or a year. Boris, the blind malamute, perhaps has a bit longer. They have been a part of me for a decade and a half and will be with me always. But, they will someday shed this mortal coil. On that day, I will cry, wail, and gnash my teeth. And then, I will rescue another pup that has been abandoned, just as Hen and Boris were rescued, as were an entire litany of pups before them. But, that is the future.
For now, we celebrate each moment we have. To thine own self be true. You make exceptions to this law at your own peril, and the peril of others. A chapter has been finished. An epilogue has been completed. A book has been written, read, and put back on the shelf. It is time for a new book, and as I await the first chapter, I am at peace. I am at home, where I should be.