42. Mourning

Dear Tera,[1]

            Hello little pup.  I missed seeing you in the park today.  I tried to get Alpha and the Pup out the door in time to meet you and the others at the usual time, but my humanoids apparently had an agenda of their own. 

            Humanoids can be so irresponsible at times.  They watch that noisy box in the corner of the living room when, as we all know, they should be out getting their exercise.

            So we didn’t have occasion to exchange news and smell scents.  And play.  You seem to bring out the puppy in all of us.  Even Jacob-dog, with his arthritic German Shepherd hips, musters up the enthusiasm for a romp across the frozen mud when you’re around.

            I must confess that I’ve never been one for frolicking with exceedingly young dogs.  At six months, you haven’t yet reached the age where a good old rough and tumble is possible.  And I know that one of these days I’ll have to teach you a rather sharp lesson about staying away from my ball.  But you’re such a pleasant and excitable young scamp that no one seems to have the heart to remind you of your place in the Windsor Park pack. 

            And certainly you know how to treat the older dogs with respect.  Who could ever get cross with such a respectful young pup, so willing to go down on your belly and give a little yelp of submission?  You have good manners, I’ll say that for you.

            I’m writing to you now because, with all your carefree puppyhood, you may not have remarked the end of an era.  We have lost one of our most senior and most respected members – the dean of Windsor Park doggies, my old beagle buddy, Boomer.[2]

            The way you run and prance up to humanoids to greet them reminds me a lot of Boomer.  She carried that same joy of saying hello with her through all her years.  Even from a distance, you could tell it was Boomer, the way she loped toward you, all stiff in the joints, but with a spring in her legs nonetheless, and always a smile on her face.

            Her longtime companion, Jasper,[3] was a different character altogether.  Jasper waddled about like a crotchety old queen who didn’t care what anyone thought of her.  Or whether anyone was calling to her, for that matter.  Off doing her own thing, Jasper was.  But Boomer was the sociable one, and made sure everyone at the park felt welcome.

            The two of them made an excellent team – world class – in that time-honoured sport of Two Directions.  The object of the game, as you may have learned by now, is to confuse your humanoid by having two or more dogs take off in opposite directions to leave our deposits.  Humanoids can get quite flustered as a result, and you score extra points if you can interrupt your humanoid in mid-conversation with one of his or her kind.

            As I say, Boomer and Jasper were real champions at this game.  I had the honour and privilege of joining with them occasionally for a variation – Three Directions.  And one morning, when the Pup was scarcely more than a lump and had to hold on to his daddy’s hand for support, he worked with us for a true tour de force – Four Directions.  All at once.  It was a marvel to see Alpha trying to keep us all together.  He hadn’t a hope, of course.  No humanoids are given the herding skills that some of us – come on down, Wembley![4] -- have in such abundance.

            But first Jasper, and now Boomer have left us.  We’ll miss them terribly.  And we will count on you and your irrepressible puppy enthusiasm to cheer us up in the months ahead.

                                                Howling in memory of the greatest howl master of us all,


[1] This is the first reference to Tera – apparently a younger dog who frequented Windsor Park.  All of Zoscha’sremaining letters would be directed to Tera.

[2] Boomer had been the recipient of Zoscha’s letters from the time they first appeared in February, 2000. She had been ailing for some time.  See Part 41, “Champion,” February, 2004.

[3] Jasper makes her first appearance in Part 5, “The Dog Days of Summer,” August 2000.  She predeceased Boomer by several months, see Part 36, “Dog Party,” September 2003.

[4] Another dog of Windsor Park during that period. In her recent lecture at the Carleton University Institute of Interspecies Studies, Professor Glenda Carruthers has suggested that Wembley may well have been a border collie.