My companion is a 14 month old German Shepherd named Shya (after the last named Shine and the one before named Shelby-you see the pattern).

She stands at my bedside at 6:00 a.m. and whines, first soft then with increasing strength and pitch.  I trundle down the stairs to let her out.  It is cold. 15 degrees below zero.  She stands in the hallway looking.  No she doesn’t want to go out.  She wants me awake.

She doesn’t want food.  She wants me awake.  She wants me to be awake as she is, experiencing life consciously, immediately, fully.  She is awake and wants to be awake with all the world that is important to her.  The world doesn’t have to DO anything–just be awake.

Mary Oliver has a wonderful book of poetry called Dog Songs.  This one reminds me of Shya’s desire for me to share the awakeness of the world.


He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I’m awake, or awake enough

he turns upside down, his four paws
  in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.

“Tell me you love me,” he says.

“Tell me again.”

Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask.
I get to tell.

of course there is the afternoon nap…when I am awake.  But I find joy in watching her sleep too.



today, I took the puppy to the dog park.  That is my 1 year old 68 pound german shepherd puppy. She has been so pent up with our cold weather.  Whining at the door, I open the door, she looks at me and I close the door.  

But she needed to run and wrestle.  for her mental health as well as mine.

I stood in a huge field in the prairie (which is now owned by the Airport Commission).  With 6 other people totally wrapped up.  And 8 dogs frantically playing as the wind gusted at 50 miles an hour, blowing snow in huge white clouds towards us.  

Oooh, we love our dogs.  And we are intrepid.  And ooh are we fortunate to have places to go that are warm and safe.  A woman told me that North Dakota took a very long time before it became a state.  She thinks because it is so cold, nobody wanted to stay past the first winter.

I felt noble and in pain with frozen hands and feet.  I am keenly aware that the 21st century is very very different than what came before…very very different in America that is.