Puppy Love cures all. Well, maybe not all, but a heck of a lot. I couldn't get used to living without Lily. I missed having my little sidekick around. As my dear friend Molly put it, "Sky, you just need a familiar." She is right. I do need a familiar. As a woman who has chosen not to have children, I seem to need to find some outlet for my nurturing and mothering instincts. But, I not only missed my corgi companion, I missed the window she gave me into another world, the animal world. To see the world through the eyes of a pet is truly a wondrous thing that can bring us to place outside our busy thinking apparatus and inside the present moment.
My pets have always been amazing animals with developed personalities and complex relationships. Critters, if fed, cared for, and loved, can overcome their instincts and live peacefully with other species (more than we humans can do within our own species). This is the power of love. And the love grown between a human and a pet is a special manifestation, unlike any other.
So, in short, I just couldn't go on without another canine pal. Enter Zubenelgenubi (zoo-BEN-el-jeh-NOO-bee) a Miniature Australian Shepherd that we recently adopted from Underdawgz Rescue in Olympia.
He is named after one of the 57 stars used for celestial navigation which is something I someday wish to know more about. Zubenelgenubi is actually a binary star system in the constellation Libra. We've got some star charts and on the clear nights have tried to spot it, but haven't located it yet. We will.
Zuby, as we call him, is just a tiny little guy, the result of irresponsible breeding. At four months he just hit ten pounds. Breeders began selectively breeding smaller Aussies in the 1960's and 70's resulting in compact little shepherds under 18" tall. In recent years the Mini Aussie has become so popular that some folks have started making "designer Aussies" they call Toys. These tiny little dogs probably have other breeds mixed in to get them under 15 lbs. Since they could hardly do the job Aussies were meant to do - herd - they aren't really Aussies at all. Little Zuby is most likely the result of somebody breeding for small size over health, temperament, or purpose. Personally, I do not approve of this practice, but once the pups are here, they need love like the rest of us. We're hoping he'll grow up a bit, but will love him at any size.
There have been a lot of puppy mill busts here in Washington, and the horror of it would turn your stomach and break your heart. So please, I urge those of you looking for a new pet, go to a rescue, a shelter, or find a reputable breeder. Never buy from pet stores or online kennels that will ship you a pup, as there is no way to know the conditions from which the pup came. Most reputable breeders are very selective about the homes they send their pups to and would not allow their pups to end up in a store.
For those of you who don't know the breed, Australian Shepherds are some of the most intelligent, hardest working dogs out there. Bred for endurance, communication and herding both sheep and cattle, they have energy, brains, chutzpah, and stamina. This little fellow has the smarts for sure. He's already halfway through "Dog Logic: Companion Obedience" by Joel McMains. This book takes the standard, pack mentality approach to training. McMains loves and respects dogs, and it comes through on every page. Like any training manual, it is imperfect, but worth a read if you're new to dog training. And although Zuby cannot read, of course, he takes in a lot from the excellent illustrations.
Another wonderful book about human dog communication and the many misunderstandings that arise from our different use of body language and gesture, is Patricia McConnell's, "The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs." McConnell, PhD., has some great insight into the different interpretations of gestures between canine and humans.
At times, we also refer to our little pal as Dr. Genubi because he has the ability to cure my blues. His silly puppy antics are enough to mend any heart. Just look at that little pink tongue!
So for now at least there will be no need for antidepressants thanks to our new crew member. He's already adapted to the PFD (puppy flotation device) and getting good and wet. Soon we'll have him sailing. And in this household, we are ready to get back onto the water. Onward we go, Captain Steve, Number One, and Zuby-crew!