For all the days of her life that she lived with me she knew she was loved. But she never forgot the abuse and fear she had for the first year of her life. She never could go anywhere without being afraid of people and other dogs.
She learned to trust only a few. She never knew the joy of a dog park or excitement of walking down a busy street.
Yet, she did know out of the way places. The private places we found together. Kelly Point Park, Smith-Bybee Lakes, along the Columbia and the Slough. The Columbia Pioneer Cemetery. I treasure those secret places.She learned to relax in these places away from people and other dogs. Just her, me and the soft rustling of trees.
When I read these stories of animal abuse and how some of these poor creatures were tortured and suffered even more than my own Stormy, and yet they learn to trust and love. I wish that she could have learned to trust the world more but then maybe she had her reasons to distrust.
On these windy days, in between raindrops, I go out in the backyard and throw Ozzie’s favorite squeaky football. The rushing of the air and creaking of the trees are only some of the sounds you can hear above his toy. My neighbor has wind chimes that play a very melancholy tune. They make me think another windy day when I buried my dog Buster beneath the lilac. He is now joined by several cats, some parakeets and a goldfish.
There is a huge maple in that corner of the yard. In the winter, the branches crackle against each other when the wind blows. In the summer, the leaves shimmer and swoosh. The wind chimes play the same tune whatever the season. I close my eyes let the sounds lift me up.
The song of the chimes, the swoosh of the maple and the lonely sound of the fir trees have become a part of me. Chocolatey smell of fresh baked cookies from the Nabisco plant, the train whistling on Lombard; these are the sensations that wind brings me in my backyard in Woodlawn.
When I grew up in Lake Zurich, Illinois we didn’t have many trees. Ours was a new development with three kinds of houses. Door on the left, door on the right and door in the middle. The only trees were planted after I was born. They grew as I grew. There was no sound of trees around our house. Only, a lonely prairie-like wind that in the spring brought tornadoes. We didn’t have a lot of birds because of the blankness of the landscape.
I could write a poem about a tree, but it’s been done. I am glad I have some and I have my own portion of the sky and wind and the music they all make.
I confess, I am a fan of Perry Mason. Not a fanatical fan but a fan. I have watched Perry ever since I came to Portland in the early 70’s. It became a comforting habit on sick days to sit in front of the TV at noon sipping on Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and wait for the signature theme music.
I love the fashions, the stylized, over-the-top acting and the corny dialogue. Perry was cool, Paul Drake suave and Della classy. The plots are filled with stock characters from doe-eyed ingenues to oily drifters, hot babes and sweet, larcenous old ladies. The cases end with Perry zeroing in on the truth and the guilty-one sobbing a confession in court.
Everybody smoked, in a time when it was cool. But the only women that smoked on the show were the kind that the music changed to a sultry jazz when they entered the room. Paul Drake smoked but he was …well we all know what’s on Paul’s mind.
Now that I have become a woman of leisure, and can watch Perry every day if I want to, I arrange my work and chores around him. I make lunch and have a sit down. Both my sister and I watch Perry. Her in her room, me in the living room.
Our biggest challenge is identifying all the character actors we can spot and figure out where we have seen them before.
For instance, there was an episode recently, with a young actor I recognized from an old Star Trek episode. So I looked up the cast and found out his name was Michael Walker but he was the brother of Robert Walker Jr. the actor from Star Trek. Both Robert and Michael are sons of Robert Walker and Jennifer Jones. Later, they divorced and Jennifer Jones married David Selznick.
The name of the Star Trek episode with Robert Jr was Charlie X. He also appeared in Easy Rider.
These are the things you learn while watching Perry Mason.
I am inclined to believe in reincarnation. And I have often wondered if animals also have past lives. When I look into Ozzie’s eyes there is a wisdom beyond his years. It’s like he knew me from another time.
He fit into our life so easily as if he was always here. In many ways he reminds me of my Buster, a dog from my past. Both of them medium sized brown mutts, floppy ears, part German Shepherd. Smart, intuitive and deeply affectionate.
I have loved all my dogs. Each one has a special place in my heart. But for the past few years I have lived with senior dogs and Ozzie is a change of pace. He has brought back the joy of the walk into my life. He cuddles me at night. His pure joy in chasing his squeaky toy can bring sunshine into my heart at the darkest of times.
I look at him every day many times and can’t believe how lucky I am to have such a wonderful companion.