I wrote this this last night and this morning.
The New Economy
The dog showed up on my doorstep, whimpering and shivering, minus collar, tags, or known history. Yes, I know, I know. Wisdom says, don’t feed him; he will never leave. But what would you do? The leaves had fled the poplar trees in my yard, the rime of frost was thicker each morning, daylight was migrating south. The mercury plummeted, and snow flakes gathered, readying for the long-dark-night-of-the-soul winter.
I am a cat person. I do not want a dog. He wagged his tail. He said, “I’m here to work on your relationship skills.” Those are the first and the last words he spoke to me—which is par for my relationships.
Fool that I am, I lay down the rules: You will not lounge on the couch. You will not track mud over the floors. You will not put your paws on me. You will bathe frequently.
But, true to form, before I realize that I am the one changing, I learn new habits. I make space for him. I buy and prepare special foods, treats, toys, a new bed. I use a term of endearment when I call him for dinner. I change my routine. I check with him before I make plans for the weekend. I think, “This is really sick.”
One day, while sitting at my desk, paying bills, I say, “Dog, you gotta carry your own weight around here. There are no sluffers in this family. Everyone contributes, each according to his means.” I say this sternly. He, of course, does not answer.
The next day, after an expedition roaming the neighborhood, Dog drags home the thigh bone of a tyrannosaurus rex. I heave a sigh, imagining mountains of debris I will have to clean up when the yard next appears, probably in May. I know Dog isn’t going to pick it up. I watch as he buries the bone in a mid-size drift, then sits, tail gouging angel wings in the snow, altogether pleased with himself.
I have an ‘ah-ha’ moment. This is when our relationship begins to turn around.
I don’t want the neighbors to see me. I wait until dark. A sliver of moon guides me to the spot marked in my memory. I pry t-rex from its frozen grave, and drag it into the house. I fill the stock pot with water and boil that bone with the butt of a celery stalk, a couple onions, a few cloves of garlic, some carrot tops, assorted herbs dried from my garden. I boil that bone about 30 hours, strain the whole mess and can 6 quarts of prime soup stock. I toss the cooked and softened bones back into the yard.
A couple days later I serve dinner to friends. They rave about the soup. I smile sweetly and say, “It’s all in the stock.”
Every few days, that dog drags home a new animal part. I note where he hides it, and under cover of night, slip outside and dig it up, throw it in the stock pot and simmer a new batch, pat dog on his head. Best relationship I ever had.