At the invitation of my dear friend, I recently escaped the polar vortex to spend a week basking in the South Florida sun. We left with new snow on the ground and a temperature of 28 degrees and arrived in the full sun of a luxurious 75 degrees. What divine goodness it was to sink into a lounge chair, the Gulf of Mexico foaming inches away, and feel my bones creak with thanks as they absorbed a dose of Vitamin D. We slept in each morning until we felt like getting up, we took naps in the sun, we exercised as long as we wanted to and then walked some more. We ate when we felt like it, not according to the demands of the clock or a social calendar. Occasionally, someone even rubbed my back occasionally — with sunscreen.
In effect, for a week, I lived like my dogs do most of the time (lucky creatures). Here is my own dearly departed basenji Cleopatra. She loved basking in the sun, being scratched and running so fast she could not be caught.
Coincidentally, while on vacation, I read The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein’s ode to the humanity of the canine; a book I had been avoiding for fear of crying unremittingly the whole way through. By the end of the first page, I was sure my reluctance had been well-founded. Enzo, the motley mutt with a man’s mind, begins the book by telling the reader he is about to pass into the great doghouse in the sky.
Enzo has gestures, he tells us, gestures only. As much as he would love to be able to speak in words or write, he has never language nor opposable thumbs. But Enzo speaks loudly through his gestures. Through physical gestures Enzo is able to share comfort, enthusiasm, acceptance, and once, notably and hilariously, his disdain. I won’t ruin the surprise for you, but let me just say this: never give a dog a pepperoncini.
Enzo himself is full of love and wisdom, many times eclipsing the humans in his life. The only difficulty I had with this concept was in the vein of “how can those two villainous humans refer to Enzo as a dog?” To me, a long-time dog devotee, it is clear dogs are semi-human or perhaps even super-human. Science is coming to terms with the reality as well. For more information on a relevant study see: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1751-9004.2008.00087.x/abstract;jsessioni.
Read the book. I give it two opposable thumbs and eight paws (the combined total for my housemates Abra and Eliza) up. Enzo’s introduction serves as much as a benediction and blessing.
“This is what I love. I love to run in the wet grass, keeping my snout low to the ground, so the sparkles of water cover my face. I love to run and smell all the smells. All the life. When I return to this world, I will be a man. I will walk among you. I will shake hands with other men, grasping firmly with my opposable thumbs. And when I see a man, or a woman, or a child in trouble, I will offer my hand to him, to her, to you, to the world. I will be a good citizen. A good partner in the endeavor of life that we all share.”
Hot dogs would be an obvious choice, but I can’t stomach hot dogs ever since reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair in high school so I will suggest serving Enzo’s favorite two foods and have a breakfast for dinner party: Pancakes with Bananas. And here’s a recipe for Puppy Chow.
9 cups Chex cereal ( any kind)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, melted
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 -2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Measure cereal in large bowl.
Microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter for 1 minute on high.
Cook for 30 seconds longer or until smooth.
Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until coated.
Pour mixture into large Ziploc bag and add powdered sugar.
Shake until well coated.
Spread on waxed paper to cool.
Store in Ziploc bags or large sealed bowl.
If you have time, you could put together a really fun playlist of songs like:
Hound Dog, Elvis Presley
Hound Dog, Big Mama Thornton
Puppy Love, Donny Osmond (a personal favorite)
Dog Named Boo, Lobo
Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog, Johnny Cash
He’s a Tramp, Peggy Lee
Throw in a little Cat Stevens for fun
There is a movie in the works with Thomas Bezucha hired to direct. Originally Patrick Dempsey was to play Enzo’s owner Denny the race car driver and since Dempsey is a race car driver he would be perfect. As to Enzo, I think Eliza my dog would be perfect too.