Tag Archives: Zora Neale Hurston

Zora’s Advice to Human Puppies as they Graduate

image004We run Zora’s guest post each May as a tribute to all those graduating, and their families. Zora’s words are wise.

At this time every year, humans come in looking for graduation gifts. Apparently their puppies, or their sister’s puppies, or the puppies of a friend–humans have such odd kinship systems–are doing something called graduating. It is a time of great consternation for the whole human pack.

It all seems a bit artificial to me. Take that kinship system of who has to buy presents for whom: we canines have instincts for a reason, and we’re not much bothered beyond that. You either smell good or you don’t; you wag your tail and are friendly, or you’re a growler. Blood doesn’t matter, unless it’s about to get spilled.

But then, I’m a dog, so maybe I haven’t had enough of that “schooling” stuff.

Still, the “graduation” ritual strikes me as odd. I understand that the human puppies have done something that took a lot of time and was quite expensive, but we canines know that it takes a whole lifetime to absorb the learning that goes with being alive. In my experience, those that don’t keep learning get run over on the highway. Or left behind in a move. You have to stay ahead of those noises you hear in the distance: Ears up, nose into the wind.

The ritual seems to mark a day when it is acceptable for the pack to tell the human puppies how much they love them. We bitches love our babies all the time; they get licks and snuggles and we sing them lullabies. I know humans love their puppies too, so why wait for special occasions to say so? Every day alive is a special occasion for us. We call it “every dog has his day.”

Perhaps this is related to that weird thing humans do where they run around each other–or run away from each other–looking for love. In my experience, love comes when you’re sitting down minding your own business. Someone scratches you behind the ears, you look into each others’ eyes, and you got a home. Just don’t go messing it up by barking when a little kiss will do the trick.

One last thing. There are no books that will stuff into a pup’s head in one sitting all the things they haven’t got by now. In our world, we say “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” The time to tell ’em what they need to hear is all those years you’ve got ’em around the food bowl – kitchen table, I think y’all call it. Those toss-off evenings that tick by one by one, racing past ’cause you’ve got places to go: THOSE are the nights that count. Once they get old enough to go out on their own, they aren’t gonna listen any more. So get their ears full while they’re still wet behind ’em.

That’s what I’d say if humans could hear me. But y’know, they usually can’t, so never mind. And to all you puppies out there leaving the school, here’s my advice: keep your ears up, scratch when it itches, stick with the love you find, and don’t get run over.

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, reading, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, writing

DOG HOUSE

Jack’s guest blog this week offers praise where it is long overdue: to the staff dogs of the Little Bookstore.

...inter-staff relationship maintenance...

…inter-staff relationship maintenance…

We blog often about our menagerie of cats, but rarely write about our dogs. When we moved from Scotland to ‘The Snake Pit’ (as Wendy describes it in The Little Bookstore) we brought our cat Valkyttie and dog Rabbie with us.

Sadly, we lost Rabbie just as we were moving to Big Stone Gap – he got out of the yard at The Snake Pit (we hope not with help) and we never found him, though we tried everything. Towards the end of the search we got a phone call from a guy who thought he’d found him, which is how we were adopted by Bert. Bert is a ¾ size version of Rabbie.

About eight months before we lost Rabbie, Wendy had found a black Lab pup wandering the roads, and that’s how Zora became part of the family. As Senior Executive Dog, Zora taught Bert everything he knows. But of course, Zora was trained by Rabbie, who taught her everything from food-specific begging eyebrow movements to a stock vocabulary of menacing growls. It’s quite odd to see Bert exhibiting Rabbie tendencies he learned from Zora!

image004I always describe Zora as an earth mother with Eeyore tendencies. One hundred percent placid and never excited, she will happily yield the right of way to the smallest kitten, and in fact cuddles some of the orphans who foster here. She has a dog bed beside ours and when we retire of a night and she plods round our bed end, if she sees little Nike already curled up there in the plush, she will turn and head back to the less comfortable fireplace rug. Sometimes in the night we hear Zora emitting a low growl akin to a purr, which signals Owen is home from his rounds and bunking down with her. She all but tucks him in under her tail.

All our animals have bookstore duties and Zora is our human resource manager. Bert is the polar opposite, and takes his job as security manager VERY seriously. At the slightest incursion to bookstore territory (which he considers anywhere within his hearing) he will emit strident warnings and race out to the yard to launch guided missiles at the garbage men, the airplane flying overhead, the leaf that had the audacity to fall into the yard. Zora generally raises herself onto one elbow and yawns.

Those are our dogs, God bless ‘em. They put up with a lot from the cats around here, and never let it get them down. I suppose it was seeing Zora looking at the Portuguese version of Wendy’s book, which arrived yesterday. It features Valkyttie on the spine and flyleaf. Valkyttie is also slightly less obviously on the US and Korean editions – which doesn’t help at all. Zora never says much, but it was clear that she felt the wee bit hurt at receiving no recognition, so we thought a blog wouldn’t go wrong. The dogs are an integral part of our bookstore, after all; they just don’t have as good an agent as the cats.

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https://wendywelchbigstonegap.wordpress.com/

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, blue funks, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA