ode to tilly

more two, less three

it’s three of late to share with all

how long we knew thee

since then, sans bear and claw

2017 10 24 Tilly 03 Bite

Tilly made me call our big dogs “bear.” She’d put her paws on the picture window in the dining area, claws making whale-songs against the glass. Huge pads and long curls of hard keratin. I’d envision a grizzly wanting in.

I still hated dogs then (a small dog thing) and Tilly arrived small. Energetic. Chewing. Biting. And those claws. Mix Canadian wolf with German Shepherd and you get a force of nature. My daughter says it’s a wolf-thing to hold another’s limb in the jaws. Young with no bite control, she was a paper punch. At a year old, she had bite control. But you’d look down and see your forearm in the jaws of this wolfly thing, and yank your arm away.

Serrated teeth, I swear.

2017 10 24 Tilly 02 Play

She ripped the plastic dryer vent off the house. I replaced it with tin. She ripped that off. I replaced it with steel and it survived. She yanked a 2×4 runner off the fence and trotted up with it balanced in her teeth, proud as could be. Dug holes. Uprooted an 8-foot tree. Pulled the satellite coax cable off the back of the house.

The sprinkler system we used to have? She brought it to us piece-by-piece.

Yeah, I hated dogs. It was like my brother-in-law said. If you have a dog, you don’t have a backyard. You have a dog pen.

2017 10 24 Tilly 01 Snooze

Then, a year and a half old, she matured. Overnight. Stopped digging. Stopped teething on lumber. Stopped putting our body parts in her maw.

If that wasn’t strange enough, I fell in love with her.

She rarely barked. If she did, grab the flashlight and the gun because something is out there. Possum or skunk, snake or porcupine. And playing tug-of-war with a branch or toy, she never growled. Actually, that was creepy. I was used to the hyper little Jack Rat who thought he had to intimidate everything with his vicious snarls and snaps. Tilly played as if she were holding back, dialed from a 10 down to a 1, as if thinking: I must be gentle with my humans, lest I break them. If she won the toy or tree, she brought it back and waited patiently. C’mon, human. I’ll give you a chance.

All good things must end. We got Taiga. An escape artist. She could smell weak spots in the fence. Softness in the dirt. Whatever it took. But usually just enough for her smaller frame to squeeze through. Then one night she engineered an escape Tilly could take advantage of.

And we live right on a busy highway.

Don’t worry. I don’t get sad when I run across pictures of Tilly Bear. I smile.

2016 02 06 tilly


Above the post: Tilly would sit on the porch swing and gaze upon her domain. What was left of it.

As for the ode at the top, I hope you got a laugh. It’s funny in the original Vogon and all nuance is lost in translation.

(the real translation: I am no Keats)

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