Small Conceits

Musings. Stories. Poems.

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Dead Smells

(Overheard in the living room:)

Coyote: “OK, so help me understand. You find that nasty half-a-dead-squirrel in the yard and try to bring it inside, and I have to suffer through getting my teeth brushed.”My dog, Sachi, chewing an antler

Sachi: “Squirrels are yummy!”

Coyote: “It was barely a strip of leather with a tail attached! Why’d you even bother to pick it up?”

Sachi: “Squirrels are especially yummy when they get ripe for a few days!”

Coyote: “You’re hopeless! Next time, swallow it whole before Mom sees you! I don’t like the toothbrush. Makes my fangs feel weird.”

Sachi: <continuing, lost in her own thoughts> “Ripe squirrels smell delicious. When I find them, I just want to roll in them.”

Coyote: “Well it’d be better than eatin-… Wait. ROLL in it?!”

Sachi: <quivering in ecstasy at the thought> “Dead smells all over my body…”

Coyote: “Are you NUTS?! She’ll give us both BATHS!”

Sachi: <sighing happily, oblivious> “Mmmmm. Dead smells…”

Coyote: “You’re just…wrong.”


Dance of the Good Dog

This was a post from a couple of years back, when Sachi, my Golden Retriever, was still with us. My girls were generally a good team, but sometimes their worldviews simply clashed. (Go figure — a Golden and a husky at odds…) There were times I swear I saw Coyote roll her eyes…

Overheard from the living room:

Coyote: “OK, what did she do?”

Sachi: “She patted me on the head and smiled at me.”

Coyote: “That’s IT? Did she say anything?”

Sachi: “Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. She said I’m a good dog.”

Coyote: “Oh, brother.”

Sachi: “Because I really am a good dog.”

Coyote: “That’s not the point. I sent you in there because she seems to understand you better than she does me.”

Sachi: “I am a good dog, though.”

Coyote: “Yeah-yeah.” <thinking> “Did you wag?”

Sachi: “Yup.”

Coyote: “And point your nose at the back door?”

Sachi: “Yup.”

Coyote: “So, she doesn’t get me looking meaningfully at her and putting my paw on her leg — that just got me a belly-scratch and a smile…”

Sachi: <musing> “That was so nice.”

Coyote: “And she didn’t get your wagging and pointing and big brown eye thing…”

Sachi: “And she told me I was a good dog.”

Coyote: <frustrated> “Quit with the good dog thing already! I’m trying to figure this out!”

Sachi: <defensively> “But I *am* a good dog!”

Coyote: <huffing> “Whatever. OK, so what do we try next? Maybe rush her and dance around her a bit?”

Sachi: <flatly> “Say it.”

Coyote: “Say what?”

Sachi: “Say I’m a good dog.”

Coyote: <incredulous> “WHAT?!”

Sachi: <firmly> “Say I’m a good dog, or you’re going in there and dancing all by yourself.”

Coyote: <sighs> “Fine. You’re a good dog.”

Sachi: “You don’t mean it. You have to mean it.”

Coyote: “I might have to bite you.”

Sachi: “That’s not good-dog behavior.”

Coyote: “You know, you’re such a human sometimes!”


(I think my dogs need to go for a walk.)

Sachi, peering from under table

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Brushing and Other Worries

Coyote: <squirming> Ow! You’re torturing me!My dog, Coyote, in the tub

Me: Oh, fer pete’s sake. It’s just a brush. Stand still.

Coyote: Chris never tortures me when I stay with her.

Me: Chris isn’t responsible for your daily care. Besides, she gave you a bath. That’s torture, right?

Coyote: Yeah, but she cried the whole time she was doing it.

Me: That was you.

Coyote: <snorts> Details!

Me: Uh-huh, but let’s get them right.

Coyote: The only reason I got a bath was so I’d be clean for you.

Me: That might have originally been true, but then you leaned up against a freshly-painted wall. So it was your fault.

Coyote: Again: Details.

Me: Again: Get them right.

Coyote: By the way, food at Chris’s always comes with gravy on it.

Me: *sigh* Chris gets to spoil you because she doesn’t have to live with you. Gravy is expensive.

Coyote: You put gravy on my food last night!

Me: That was a “welcome home” celebration. You’ve been welcomed. Game over. Now, hold still.

Coyote: Ouch! Chris is ALWAYS happy to see me.

Me: Chris, Chris, Chris… Keep it up, and I’ll start comparing you to Sachi. How would you like that?

Coyote: Fine. You can start with how I’m smarter than Sachi.

Me: <teasing> Who isn’t?

Coyote: <tongue-in-cheek> I rest my case.

Sachi: Uh…hello! I’m right here!

Me: But she’s much more cooperative. And I don’t have to negotiate everything with her.

Coyote: Well, that’s my prerogative. I’m part husky.

Me: <tugging> The stubborn part.

Coyote: Hey! Don’t brush so hard!

Me: By the way, you have a vet appointment this afternoon.

Coyote: With shots?!

Me: Yep.

Coyote: <accusingly> You like torturing me.

Me: Do you have any idea how much those shots cost? And the “senior panel” tests? Old dog.

Coyote: <offended> I’m not old. I’m well-aged.

Me: Well, keep your well-aged butt still unless you want me to bite it.

Coyote: I hate when you do that.

Me: It’s all — ALL of it — for your own good. I love your all-stubborn, part-husky self.

Coyote: <huffs her disdain>

Me: Careful, or I’ll take you back to Chris.

Coyote: Yes, please.

Me: Without Sachi.

Coyote: That silly dog? <pause, then sighing> I can’t do without her, though.

Me: And we can’t do without you either. So there.

Sachi: Geez, you guys…I’m. Right. HERE!

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Sachi and Coyote

We’ve always been a dog family.

Growing up, it was springer spaniels, whose happy energy helped them live up to their names. As an adult, I started a love affair with Golden Retrievers, the gorgeous goofballs of the dog universe. My first Golden, Sachi, was a gorgeous little blonde with a wicked sense of humor. My current Golden, Bodhi, is a big, robust red boy with the most expressive eyes — and who cracks both himself and me up on a daily basis.

But before Bodhi came along — and before my Sachi left us — I let Coyote into my life, a husky/white-shepherd mix who turned my life inside out and our household upside down. I adopted her to provide Sachi with a much-needed friend. I used to joke that if I wanted her to learn anything, I first had to negotiate with the husky side and, if she felt there was something in it for her, the shepherd side would codify it into law and so it would be forever.

Except when it wasn’t.My dogs Sachi and Coyote

Sachi was my best friend, the apple of my eye and bananas of my day. She charmed me into play, fussed over me when I was sad or anxious, guarded my bedside when I was sick. The book from which I got her name translated it as “child of joy,” a kind of play on my own name, which often translates to “joy.” She was joy personified, my sun dog.

Coyote was named for the Native American trickster god. When she was younger, she was my escape artist, the sergeant in charge of Squirrel Watch, the Fun Police when things got too rowdy. But, as with the Coyote of Native mythology, she is also a source of hidden wisdom, the silent observer, the sweet, shy one. She has always been my moon dog.

So these are the characters who started the dog dialogues. As do many people who have furred and feathered creatures in their lives, I started mentally captioning my dogs’ postures and expressions, imagining conversations. And, because it’s what I do, I started writing them down. And posting them to Facebook.

Because, obviously.

So, that’s my introduction for the main cast of characters for the Dog Talk section of this blog. I’ll start by reaching into the past a little and work my way forward. There’s plenty to post. My dogs are nothing if not chatty.