A Corgi Named Hank

IMG_3501Our friend Cassie found the four-year-old tri-colored low-rider at a pound in Nashville. She sent us pictures of him with his big warm brown eyes looking up at her through the metal bars of his kennel. The dog looked happy despite his confinement, and we were immediately smitten.

My husband Peyton and I had talked about getting a dog for years and he desperately wanted a corgi, not because he had one growing up, but because “they smile!” he said. I volunteered at a local humane society and couldn’t bring myself to purchase a dog from a breeder with so many homeless ones out there. Cassie had gone on the hunt for us and became our hero for discovering a purebred canine we could save, fulfilling both of our needs.

Once Peyton drove the corgi back to Massachusetts, the dog ran into our house as if he already knew it was home. He excitedly sniffed everything thoroughly while the cats scattered like roaches when a light switch is throw, hiding in dark corners. His physique was totally foreign to me; his long back, barrel-shaped torso, stubby legs and lack of tail didn’t fit the picture in my mind of “dog.” Despite my online research when trying to find a dog to adopt, I had never seen a corgi in person before.

Hank weighed in at forty pounds during his first vet check-up, easily ten pounds chubbier than recommended. The regimen required for him to lose a quarter of his body weight made him cranky at first, earning him the nickname Mr. Grumbles, but then turned him into an avid fan of lettuce spines and baby carrots as well as tennis-ball-retrieving and long hikes in the woods.

In addition to his thick double coat of gold and white fur, Hank has a black “saddle” on his back and a thin white blaze that runs from the top of his forehead to halfway down his nose. “It looks like someone poured a little cream on him!” Cassie said in her sweet Southern lilt, while I looked at him, imagining an odd dwarf horse. One of Hank’s ears always stands up tall like a soldier on command, the other usually flops sideways endearingly. He has a black olive nose, looks like he is wearing Egyptian eyeliner and really does smile.

When Hank goes downstairs, he hops, his fluffy white haunches bobbing like a rabbit’s backside. When Hank is very excited, he not only barks excessively, he wags his nubbin ferociously and we try not to laugh. When he wolfs down his dinner in seconds, we often say, “Corgis don’t know how to savor.” When Hank sleeps, he snores softly in a way that makes me incredibly sleepy.

Sometimes, he falls asleep on his back, white and pink belly skyward. His foxy snout points, upside down, in one direction as his petite back legs point in the other, hovering a few inches above the ground. His front legs curl in front of his chest and it looks as though he is dreaming that he is flying.

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The Stealth of Deer

White_tailed_deer_NebraskaThe deer traffic here,
The deer from the forest
With their considerable bodies, they cross, stepping
Soundlessly through camp,
As if possessing some magic

Over mounds of brown dry leaves, littered fallen branches
Without a crunch or snap, without even a sigh

Though the dog occasionally catches
A whiff, her snout arching upward, on the air
Apparently, they have a scent undetectable
To me, nose-blind

Their single file hoofsteps have pressed bruised lines
Into green shoots on the side of a path
Tracks give them away, lead to shady spots
Under purple blossoms,
Where I envision hidden fawns, like baby birds
In ground nests, sheltered, secret
Snowy spots on their fur to match
A sun-dappled forest floor,

You hide in the shadows
Turn a gentle look at me
With some trust and some distrust
Understanding
As fleeting as
The white tail that follows the tawny flanks
Into the blackness of the woods.

They become accustomed, after time,
To our faces on the deck
Our curiosity, our wide eyes-and hush
We speak in whispered clocks
“She’s at your two o’clock”
“Where?”
“There, between the trees.
See her big ears?”

We have a staring contest
She waits a long time to take
Her next bite of leaf

Deer rely on privacy, critical
For surviving in these dusky woods.
As soon as I see a tawny ear poke above the bushes
Like a redder leaf among the green
It is gone again
Camouflaged within the tapestry of leaves

While chipmunks cause a stir, bringing attention
To themselves, micro-divas with their fancy stripes
Noisily dancing
In the pine needles and undergrowth

All day
I sense the deer with a sense that is unnamed
Everywhere
Obscure in the dusk.

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