going to the dogs

Took my morning coffee outside to take in our Los Angeles view — which I don’t do enough, since you really do ignore the things that are literally in your backyard — but on a clear day you can see straight over the city to the ocean, you can pick out the tankers and boats and see where the blue of ocean meets the blue of sky, you can trace the dark shape of Catalina Island. Today was not, however, a clear day, smog drifting over the cluster of west-side skyscrapers, heat baking down from above and rising up from the Spanish patio tiles (which I despise and want to replace).

Dinora, our wondrous nanny, told me how she caught two snakes yesterday. She lives in the Valley and every summer she deals with the snakes: they come out when it’s too hot, they come down from the burning hillsides, like hissing uncoiling refugees.

Watched my two dogs have a moment. Hamlet and Leroy were nuzzling around peacefully but then got into it over a yellow squeaky football parked beneath the bougainvillea. A moment of snarling and then frozen posturing: Leroy challenging Hamlet, eyes acid-bright, tail up and curled, body planted on the tiles, lips wrinkling back to show white teeth. Hamlet returned the challenge for maybe two moments…then his tail sagged and his ears and head lowered. Leroy trotted round Hamlet to give him some inspection, then came back round to Hamlet’s front and licked his nose. There followed some moments of mutual nose-licking and tail-wagging — you could practically hear one of them saying, Yeah! Friends again! — and then Leroy went over to the football and Hamlet wandered over to drink from the water fountain at the far edge of the yard.

Thing is, yellow wily Leroy is a ten-pound mutt, son of a minature-dachshund mother and a yorkie-terrier father. Hamlet is our black-and-white Great Dane, strong and sleekly muscled and in his prime at 160 pounds, scaring the crap out of the big burly workmen who come to work in the yard and encounter this beautiful beast barking at them over the fence. When Hamlet and Leroy play tug-of-war, all Hamlet has to do is lift his head to swing Leroy clear off the ground.

When they play tug-of-war, Hamlet always lets Leroy win.

Leroy has his number.


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