Friday, October 10, 2014

Dog loving writer discovers her happy disorder is genetic

Cookie with Nick and Nora on a walk in Davis, Calif., during which time she embraced her genetic dog disorder.


"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole." -- writer, photographer Roger Caras.


Cookie's mother, Ellen Nystul and her beloved Scottie, Jinx, in 1941 in Columbus, Montana.
Jinx ate shoes, books and the legs off a piano -- but Ellen loved him dearly.

Cookie and her sister Robbie with Nick, near Carmel.
The wind was blowing, and Nick's ears were back, too.
  "A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself." -- Josh Billings, aka Henry Wheeler Shaw, humorist.

Nora, left, and Nick, enjoy the Fess Parker Doubletree
from their oceanside perch in dog friendly Santa Barbara, Calif.
Cookie's mother, Ellen, loved labs Drexler, left, and Pfeiffer.
I INHERITED MANY traits from my mother:  musical talent, a love of travel, a fondness for tomatoes, snapdragons and the color purple, a painful lower back, less than perfect vision, and a lifelong love of dogs.  My mother had dogs all her life, as did her mother and her mother's mother. Apparently, I come by this affliction honestly.

ALL MY ANCESTORS were great storytellers and had many stories about their beloved companions.
Cookie's great-grandparents had many dogs, too, including this miniature cocker
 spaniel.  Some think her name was Marlene. Others think Trixie.
My mother's most notorious dog was her adored Scottish terrier, Jinx.
Like all terriers, he was spirited, feisty, loyal,smart and quick.
He was also, apparently, aptly named.
Sigmund Freud said, "Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, unlike people who are incapable of pure love and always mix love and hate." 
Nick and Nora enjoy the Pollard Hotel in Red Lodge, Montana,
one of more than 200 pet friendly hotels in which they've stayed.
JINX HAD a long record of loving.  But he knew hate, too.  He hated when his favorite slippers were removed from the bedroom and he disliked the removal of the socks after laundry time -- before he could sample them. He was the family's most pronounced failure in our inability to train dogs.  Despite numerous attempts to reform Jinx, he ate shoes, books, boxes of candy, thawing meat and the legs off a baby grand piano.
Nick's prancing attracts admirers and dog lovers wherever the writers go.
He learned nothing from hundreds of dollars of obedience lessons.  He was also beloved until his final day -- my mother swore that he could sing -- and Jinx probably died with furniture slivers and shoe leather in his mouth.  MY MOTHER'S grandmother loved dogs, too, and had many terriers and cocker spaniels. I, in turn, would come to love my first cocker, Beau Peep, a gift from my daddy's cousin Sally Jane, who found him in a camp ground in western Montana and brought him to us when I was five years old.
Cookie, Keller and the Yorkies - bonded forever on the California coast.
BEAU FOLLOWED me to grade school each day and I'll never forget the day I walked home -- frightened because Beau had not been there to meet me. I saw the blood on the road in the snow as I approached the house.  Beau was done in by a milk truck, skidding to miss him on icy streets. My thoughtful parents and grand folks hastily took him away to the ranch for burial before I could see his mangled body. 
AFTER SHE married, my mother began a campaign of dog salvation and child rearing.
She and dad rescued ranch dogs who tested the patience of their owners, failing to herd properly and making friends with the bears who broke into the hen house. 
BONGO DRUMS was named for the sound his tail made when he thumped it on the hardwood floors.
Goldie, not very originally named, was a beautiful golden retriever who swam the Stillwater and Yellowstone rivers until she grew too fat from grandma's hamburger. 
 "Dogs are better than humans because they know but do not tell." -- poet Emily Dickinson.

BLONDIE was a circus dog, bought by my daddy for $10 after the gypsy circus ended and all the animals went to homes in our small Montana town. I never knew who took the Elephant, Rosie. Blondie was as big as we could manage. She jumped through hoops and was a delightful companion for years.  Her final resting place was a small coffin lovingly crafted by my carpenter grandfather Gustav.
So many dogs, so little time.
I've loved them all well and now understand that -- like all things "in the genes" -- this delightful disorder cannot be helped.
Only enjoyed.

The Barrister Bed and Breakfast, aptly named because its owner is
a well respected retired Helena attorney, beckons guests.
COMING SOON: We're sorting more than 2,000 Glacier Park trip photos, chronicling our odyssey from the Stillwater Valley through charming Fairfield, Montana, into Glacier and back through Helena, where we found a bed and breakfast fit for a king -- or a barrister! Follow us Wednesdays and weekends at: for travel insights and entertaining banter about food, wine, fun, romance and being alive and on the road!
And remember -- "Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." Author Robert A. Heinlein said it best.

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