Did I Hear “Treat”?
I am part of an unusual blended family. For the past 11 years, my husband and I, together with a dear friend, have shared being “parents” of Cosi, a spunky dog named after the Mozart opera “Cosi Fan Tutte.”
Like her two moms and dad, Cosi loves food. But I imagine you’re saying “what dog doesn’t?” What I like about Cosi’s approach to food, though, is her combination of exuberance and patience.
First, her exuberance. When I begin her dinner preparation, with the rattling sound of dry kibbles falling into her bowl, Cosi is on alert. Then when I retrieve the can of dog food from the refrigerator, she starts racing around the living room. Finally, when she hears me cutting chicken and adding it to the mix, she rushes to her basket containing four soft toys and two squeaky tennis balls, and hurls them one by one into the air. The favored, and most vulnerable, toy is “Lambie,” a stuffed white lamb with long black eyelashes and red booties. Poor Lambie gets shaken and tossed so vigorously that at times her cotton filling goes a-flying and she needs to be replaced.
Then, after Cosi has relished her dinner, she displays her patient side, slowly walking to the dinner table where we are eating and sits near me, quietly, hopefully. If I don’t respond, she gives me a very gentle nudge on my leg. I usually get the hint and give her a few canine treats. When I’ve run out, I say “all gone” with an appropriate empty-hands gesture that Cosi understands but does not like. I can identify with that.
This is the first time in my life I’ve had a dog. Talk about joy! Everyday, she makes me smile. Not only because of her antics around food, but because of her other doggie ways, as well. How sweet it is when she jumps up on the bed to take a nap with me, or does laps around the house when we ask “Want to go for a walk?” or runs so strong and free in the ocean surf barking at the seagulls, or huddles close when there’s thunder, or sulks when we have to leave her in the house when we go out. And of late, she is communicating more with whimpers and sing-song vocalizations. I’ve even taken to answering her with my own melodies.
There are more renegade aspects to her, as well, like her barking at turkeys strolling through the garden or squirrels hanging from the bird feeders, or her high-pitched yapping when she sees a family of deer walking by our gate. And then there’s her sit-down-pull-away, I’m-not-going-anywhere stance when it’s raining outside. That’s a fun one. It reminds me of one of my grandfather’s nicknames for me– “testa dura” (hard head).
A little while ago, I wrote this poem about our traveling doggie–
What I Learned from Our Stephen Stills Dog
Be picky about what you eat
and eat only when hungry
Drink lots of water
Warm yourself in the sun
Gaze out the window at the trees
Walk, run, play
And play again
Be ready for an adventure
Look cute, head tilted,
brown eyes shining
And “love the one you’re with”
especially if he’s kind to you
gives good treats
and takes you to the beach
so you can run free.
We love you, Cosi. Mille grazie for being a part of our family!