August is my birthday month. Mine, that is, and Milesâ€™. I like having my birthday towards the end of the month because then I feel entitled to celebrate all month long. And since Milesâ€™ birthday is also this monthâ€“on the 19thâ€“itâ€™s extra great. And his is coming up this week.
I know the exact date of his birthday because he came from a breeder. I did not buy him myself. He was given up to a woman who routinely called breeders to ask if they had any dogs they were planning to give up. Her idea was to save the dogs from being put in the pound or worse. Miles is supposed to be a miniature poodle, but he is rather large. Heâ€™s taller and beefier than miniatures usually areâ€“a great size for a dog, I feel. But I imagine he was not a very good advertisement for that particular breeder. So she gave him to the woman and then that woman could not keep him and passed him on to a gal who finds homes for dogs.
As it happened, I got Miles on his half birthdayâ€“February 19th. He was exactly six months old. And having been in a crate or a variety of crates and other enclosures for most of his six months, he was quite exuberant to be out. I can still see him, in my mindâ€™s eye, on the day I met him, bouncing with excitement at the end of the leash. And then, on our first walks in the neighborhood, he tried to go up the walks and front steps of just about every house we passed. â€œWho lives here?â€ he was asking. â€œIs this our house? Is there a dog inside? Can we go in? Can we??â€ He sure was a happy dog. (He still is.) The breeder had reputedly said, â€œHe has a gentle soul.â€ And he really does.
So we have two birthdays to celebrate this month. I usually get him a large rawhide bone for his birthday and then he gets a slightly bigger helping of dinner, even though he’s watching his weight. I like to sing â€œHappy Birthdayâ€ all throughout the day. To be fair, I sing it throughout the day on my own birthday, too. Miles gives me many kisses and his usual super soulful, loving looks. Same as every day, as he makes a fuss over me every day of the year. Every time I come home from anywhere, he acts as if Iâ€™ve been gone for weeks. Still, even twelve years later. Thatâ€™s my darling Miles.
I wrote this poem after having traveled, as I often do, to California to see my siblings. Miles was not quite three years old then.
How simple a thing it is to be at home
again where oneâ€™s heart is
to occupy oneâ€™s own bed, the covers skimming
oneâ€™s bones as they are known to do
the familiar clock and lamp at the elbow
the special mug for tea now full, now empty
to see the neighborâ€™s green house outside the window
to feel upon oneâ€™s thigh the known weight of a beloved dog
whose two baby teeth lie downstairs in a small blue bowl
where they could be found, admired, touched
whenever one wanted.
How simple, how simply grand.
I still have those two baby teeth. 😉
If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on myÂ website. And if you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.
Thanks for listening,
P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”