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Art & Culture

various essays on, well, art and culture

Bookbinding & Conservation

lessons learned from this profession


ok, I'm not the guy from SNL,
but I still have a sense of humor

'Jim Downey' Stories

mostly true stories from my

Personal Essays

No matter where you go . . .
So I wander into this nuclear
        reactor . . .

Thoughts on This Day
The Power to Forget
Announcing:  Alwyn!
Martyr Complex
The Call
The Reality of the Situation
Comforting Presence
Guilt & Redemption


Iím at -7.13/-7.33 on The Political Compass.  Where
are you?


observations on the human condition


take a trip with me

8 March 2005

Announcing:  Alwyn!

So, I got a dog.

I wasn't really meaning to, and in fact had come to the tentative conclusion that we needed to wait until Martha Sr. was gone before I could/should get a dog.

Alwyn But Alix's business partner Linda (who lives about 20 miles outside of town, well out in the country), had a stray show up at her place.  Linda figured it was about 3-4 months old, had been probably living rough for some time, since he was a little thin and shy. She checked with all the neighbors, posted signs, et cetera, but it was pretty clearly a dog who had been dumped.  So, after a week of such efforts, Alix and I went out to her place and met the dog.

We were both surprised:  this dog could be the clone of Alix's dog Miranda, other than being male.  Same size.  Same markings.  Same mannerisms.  Whoa.

We all hit it off, and we decided to bring the dog home.  We discussed names en route, but didn't settle on anything which seemed to really fit.  Later that day, with recourse to a Welsh names book, we found one we liked and seemed appropriate:  Alwyn.  It's pronounced "All-win" and is the Welsh version of Alvin.

Anyway, the first couple of days were getting to know one another, figuring out how much socialization Alwyn had had, et cetera.  After a few missed cues and messes, I think we've sorted out the housebreaking issues already.  And this afternoon I built a temporary pen off the west side of the house, with a full fenced area to follow this spring.

The vet (his name is something like Frankenkowlskiczarinkannannabobanna - but he tells everyone to call him "Dr. Frank") came by today, and did his thing with Alwyn.  Typical for Dr. Frank, this involved him coming into the kitchen, meeting the dog, setting down his kit, then laying down on the floor and playing with the dog, all the while making assessments of Alwyn's temperament, vitality, and general condition.  Dr. Frank approved.  Alwyn approved.  Then the more formal exam, and we got the word:  29 pounds, will probably go to Alwyn playing 70 with good food and care.  Probably a mix of English Setter and Hound (maybe Blue Heeler).  Healthy, but a bad case of worms (treated).  4½ months old, according to his teeth.  Got his other shots and whatnot, scheduled to be fixed in three weeks.

And we've already bonded.  Alix gets along fine with him, and he has adopted the habit of going in to cuddle up with my mother in law whenever we are in the front room, parking himself right at her feet, being friendly and bringing a pleasant brightness to her eyes.  But he and I have bonded.  I'm "his people," and he isn't happy when we part.  Right now, getting him past his abandonment anxiety is our biggest task.  If anyone has tips, I'd love to hear 'em.

For my part, while the responsibility is a little daunting on top of being a caregiver for my mother in law, I couldn't be happier.  I've really missed having a dog in the house since Miranda died.  Except for the last few years, and a break while I was in college, I've had a dog all my life.  My time obligations with the gallery wouldn't allow me to properly care for a new dog, so recently my life has been emptier.

Alwyn alert If you're not a 'dog person' this might not seem like such a big deal.  But let me try and explain it like this:  Alix and I don't have kids.  A big part of this decision is because my family is subject to a genetic disease called Frederich's Ataxia.  Think Huntington's Disease (or think Stephen Hawking), and you'll be pretty close.  It's not a pleasant disease, and I've seen far too many members of my family suffer and die from it.  Fortunately, I don't have it, but a genetic test to see whether I would pass it on to progeny wasn't available until very recently, and that wasn't a gamble I was willing to make.  Partly, a dog (and our cats) helps to fill that void in my life.  No, I'm not equating having kids with having pets.  But for me, a dog is a companion, a friend, a playmate - a 'buddy' - who makes my life more complete.

So, I got a dog.  Come meet him, if you'd like.

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all work © James T. Downey, 1993-2006
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