The old Celtic name, Conchobar, means ‘lover of hounds’, and this is the origin of my family name. Wherever I go dogs find me. They become my allies. I dream about them, walk with them. So many dogs have touched my heart at different times in my life, from the foundling of my childhood to the dogs of the mountain.
Everything on the mountain is their territory:
The small farm on the summit, the chickens, ducks, rabbits, goats, and cats, the donkey, the pig, the trout in the pond, the cliffs and the lake, the road, the forest of maple, oak, cedar, the pines, the mossy rocks, the squirrels, groundhogs, racoons, porcupines, the ravens, all the creatures, and me and the red cabin.
I hear their footsteps in my sleep when they walk across my verandah. They leave bones on the land. How will I ever leave them? Read more
She is the only one, of all the dogs, that comes down with me to the lake.
I lie on the dock, listening to the sound of her splashing with the stick. She pushes it down with her paws and looks at it under the surface. She puts her face underwater. She breaks it up with her teeth, and then has to choose between all the broken pieces. Or she goes looking for another one on the shore and finds a giant rotten log that she yanks out from underneath its forest covering. She never bothers me. She entertains herself. Sometimes I lean over the dock and she nudges the stick to me. Then I throw it across the water and she swims out for it. She’s like a black seal, Selkie from the Otherworld. Read more
Of all the dogs on the mountain, the boxer has the greatest heart.
He is, by far, the most beautifully-shaped. Small wide head, long neck, sloping haunches, long legs, four dainty white paws and a smooth cinnamon brindle coat, but his elegance is eclipsed by a flat flappy snout, wide saucer eyes, and clownish face. I held it against him in the beginning. I hope I am forgiven. Read more
From the moment I met him I called him, ‘Lion Dog’. He would purr if he could.
Other dogs will come in greeting, then disengage, shake the energy off, and move on. He basks in attention. He can never get enough. In the beginning this made me feel sad, this insatiable longing. Then I realized it was me, always looking for a home to come from the outside, something that does not exist. His presence is so strong, you can not ignore him. In time, I have learned. The introvert perceives the outer object as a sensation in the body, an inner intensity, and is always reaching for it. The lion is the colour of gold. He embodies the earth, the senses, the realm of acceptance and rejection, the quest for balance, the bridge between the worlds. He is master of self-control. He is the sun king, but he rules the night. Read more
I met them in October. They were lying on ample cushions on the floor -the biggest dog cushions I’ve ever seen-, and the woman was making coffee.
“Do they ever move?” I asked.
The woman laughed.
They were my first clients as a dog walker, and my first experience of Deerhounds. They met me at the door, pushed me aside and went to stand on the driveway. They didn’t do anything, just stood there like statues. I walked up the hill under the pines towards the leafy forest. I expected them to follow, but they were still on the driveway staring up at me. They became smaller and smaller as I walked to the edge of the forest. I called, whistled, pleaded. They never moved. So I went into the trees and sat on a log. After some time, I heard the jingle of a collar. I peeked out and saw them wandering down to my car. I waited. Then I heard a rustling through the branches. I looked down at the driveway. It was empty. I saw a movement through the forest to the left. They were fluid like the shadows, nimble-footed, swift and silent. Read more
I once lived in a little blue cabin. It was one of the happiest times in my life. Now I’m looking at the past from the other side of the fence and I feel like I’m in a museum. I can see the red oil lantern hanging on the right side of the green door and the wreath hanging on the left side with the piece of deer antler stuck in it, the long eavestrough pipe on an angle under the window on the north wall, the balcony at the back to the east, and underneath where I kept my wood and hung my tobacco to dry. I see the juniper bushes and the old white plastic chairs on the grass, and the road covered in orange pine needles where I drove up, where I used to throw sticks for Ti-loup and Bee. No one lives there. Ti-loup is dead and Bee is an old border collie with grey hair. She does not roam the way she used to. Read more