Sunday, June 15, 2014

by any other name, he is just josie

Josie has arrived. He settled right in.

Napping.

Elliott was miffed, perhaps a bit disgusted. But he’s coming around. If only Josie would stop trying to play, trying to chase, trying to have a little undignified fun, then everything would be OK.

The plan is: keep him at arm’s length.

Josie arrived last Saturday and the only trouble was settling on a name. Henry, Oliver, Abner, Ebenezer, Rizzo, Satchmo, Sancho, Floyd … to name a few. Then we latched on to Josie, a name I didn’t much like but which seemed to fit and which, for a brief time, became “Jonesy.” My sister said maybe I was having a brain wrinkle. The first dog I knew was “Joey.” Indeed, this past week has felt warped. The wild columbine and trefoil are blooming. The grass is a foot high. It feels cold, then warm, is dry, then wet; mosquitoes are the talk of the town. And  I say “Goldie” every time I mean to say “Elliott.” Goldie was the cat who a hundred years ago helped me raise Buster. Or was that just yesterday?

The Oliver stage.

My mother said “Josie” sounds like a girl.

Late entrants in the name game were Ernie and Bobby D.

But Josie sticks.

The spelling drove me nuts. Should it be Josie, Josey, or Joesy? How about … Josy? For a while it was Joe Z. And it’s fun to call him “Joisie,” like he’s from Jersey, maybe a cast-off from a Broadway play, but, in the end, officially anyway, I think’s he’s just Josie.

Yes, this is Josie.

Josie is spirited, bright, fun-loving and loving. He is also like Velcro, stuck to my side. If he is awake, there is a 98% chance that his tail is wagging. At times, this makes his whole body move. He prances when he walks and hops when he runs. In a single hop he can leap tall grass and wildflowers. He knows the words “sit” and “outside?” and is learning “stay,” “come,” “go home,” “Moosey,” and “Mr. Racoon,” the latter two being his stuffed squeaky toys. (Mr. Raccoon is, by far, the favorite.) He may know words that I don’t know.

Josie and Mr. Raccoon.

Josie is maybe a year and a half old, maybe 10 or 12 pounds. His coat, for the most part, is short, sleek, the color of rust. Around his neck, muzzle, and midpoint on his tail his coat is long, rough, and somewhat the color of amber. Six or so of these lighter, longer hairs sprout from the top of his head. But they lie flat—he is not Alfalfa. Some of these longer, rougher hairs make a faint jaunt down his spine, ending in a rough patch at the base of his tail. It is fun to stroke his back, and he likes it, too. Josie has triangular flap ears, a black nose, short and sturdy legs, a long body. The folks at the shelter believe him to be a cairn terrier mix. I think maybe with a dash of dachshund. At night, he burrows under the covers, snuggles into my side. Sometimes, he brings Mr. Raccoon along.

All these pictures, you’d think he was the cutest dog
in the world or something.

One afternoon it was warm and sunny and breezy enough that the mosquitoes were cowed so Josie and I went down to the river. The deep frost of winter caused one area of our high bank to lose a lot of ground, and the ground fell in such a way as to make a switchback trail. We zigzagged down and sat by the water. I sat, Josie explored. He stood in the water up to his chest. He would stretch out one front paw or another, tap the water, let the paw sink, draw it back. This stirred up some muck, and bits of debris swirled atop the now murky water. Josie pawed at these bits, snatched at them with his mouth, sunk his muzzle into the murk, drew it back. Once in a while as he moved along the water’s edge a leg would sink into the muck and he would watch it disappear, then pull it out. The sun and breeze felt nice. The water flowed and swirled, up against the bank it was nearly still. Josie did not want to leave—the Velcro loosens just a bit—but then he came along at a quick hop.

Josie finds home.

Officially, Josie is my foster dog. It is the way it must be for the next few weeks. But then we’ll make a lifelong pact and celebrate. We’ll chase butterflies and deer, Moosey and Mr. Raccoon, and we’ll even chase Elliott, with dignity, of course. (Bah!) We’ll run around the yard in circles and hops then flop on our backs, roll in the grass. We’ll explore the river and explore each day and at night we’ll burrow under the covers, dream of the next day, and maybe, even, the day after that.

For a while, I really did want to call him Hank.


The matchmakers who brought Josie and I together are at
Our many thanks.