Pancho and the German Shepherd in Spear, North Carolina

It’s good for a male dog owner to have a female dog. In our nine months of “running the back roads of Appalachia during the pandemic”, my doggie Panchita has been a real partner. I have given her tremendous amounts of love, freedom and exercise.

She has evolved into quite the extraordinary dog: brave, athletic, and loving to almost all people and other dogs – except those she dislikes.

She was initially intimidated by the big steps into our new/old camper van (Narwal the Whale), but now scrambles up them with no problem.

She has picked up many more English words – and has developed a very sophisticated vocabulary for telling me when she wants something: little whines, yips and chirps. Or, nonverbally, she will put a paw on my leg or lightly rest it on my foot.

She hates leashes because she is on them so seldom. But if I need to put her on one, like to go into a grocery store, she accedes to my request and walks right at my side like I paid $2000 to teach her how to do that.

And, different from many of my female human friends, she doesn’t mind it one bit if I call her a bitch – as long as I smile when I say that.

She seems to understand that it is just a word – and I think she may be aware that, in her case, that specific word is technically accurate.

A year ago, after 18 months of living in the seniors apartment building with many yappie little dogs whose owners did not know how to manage them – including a couple of very genuinely aggressive dogs – she got really scared, and for a while became aggressive towards all dogs herself.

Lots of love and reassurance and protection from other dogs melted her fears – and she began to return to her natural state of liking her own species.

At this point she likes or loves most dogs. She seems uninterested in older dogs – or maybe just any dog who seems kind of “out of it”.

And she is completely crazy about big dogs. She only wants to run and play with them and is pretty much beside herself with excitement around them – as you’ll see in this short video:

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These days all of my identities are converging: whether I am offering a blessing in the grocery store checkout line, offering a prayer in a poem or experiencing the kinship with all life while walking my or a client's dog - it's all the same. It's all Life.

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