Pack Life

Today at the dog park, a woman remarked on how well our pack interacts. From the way the dogs ran about, checked on each other, checked with us, and we all behaved, she was impressed with our relaxed, easy way with each other.  It is true. We do have a good pack.

Yes, Buster is a “butt” and Lola acts the crazy, face-licker, Skeeter Bess does her best to keep the other two in line. But, at the park most of that vanishes. Sort of. Skeeter still is apt to correct the other two. Lola will lick a face in reach. Buster is just afraid of most people. (since getting back from camp–he did MUCH better.)

Her effusiveness made me think though more about our pack and how it has changed us in a way. For most of our relationship, we relied on a lot of love and respect for each other as the solitary glue. Yes, we love the children and brought them up together. (at least the five younger children have all spent about half if not more of their lives with us.) There exists a serious and mad, deep love. Yes. A smidge of what the kids seem to think is joined at the brain and at the hip. We both work at home. We run errands together. We read and relax together. If one of us has a project the other isn’t working on, (art journal, quilt, knitting) we still are interested. Denise went to Stitch and Bitch with me and probably liked it better than I did. I go and look at all the cool art stuff with her. I read over her shoulder as she house hunts for our forever home.

At times, we tended to get a bit lost without the other. Come home–the dog misses you. Where are you? What is taking that errand I couldn’t run with you because of work so long? The hospital. The month of Pippin. The dog sitting in Charlotte. A business trip. There are those who’d claim some sort of codependency or illness beyond love-sickness. In the beginning, our lives were not a seamless mesh. The passion blurred that outside our house and inside quite a bit. There was still wrangling the kids priority, who did the dishes, how things were run in the home.

We’ve gotten older and settled. Less kid stuff each year in a way. Less new chore types of things to wrangle. We know how we share a kitchen. We don’t. It is mine to cook and hers to clean. Don’t trespass. Or “Get out of my damn kitchen” as Denise would say. No air freshener. No bleach. Yes, the bed is made. We were comfortable and together and nothing else mattered.

Then, we got the dogs. Skeeter wasn’t a big change except we had more cool things to do with her and with each other. (DOG PARK!) Then Lola. (her dog. Shrug.) Then came Buster. Her dog, but, then, suddenly, our pack. What? How did we end up with a pack of dogs? Me a solo dog person. Love them to death until they die. A daily walk. Time in the yard with her? That’s it. Seriously, before Skeeter, I wondered why people took their dogs to pet stores. Weird.

Then we gelled as a pack, like a retro Jell-o salad. A mixture of good, odd, bad, wonderful. We ended up with dogs as reliant on our dynamic as they have settled into theirs. It eased something within us too. Something I don’t think we knew existed. Something I might have not ever noticed existed–except that yeah, those paragraphs show I knew it though was not going to fix it. These dogs, the ones that have a fit if one of us leaves but not both. The ones who are just fine if we BOTH leave. The ones who freak out if just one of them heads to the vet or doesn’t head to the kennel. They actually have eased a certain focus. That one that clutches at the children. The one that walks in step with the other all day, every day. The one that is just as ordinary as our very ordinary lives. Somehow, bringing more pups into our lives–having a pack behind us has eased the singularity, yet has made me appreciate Denise more. She’s part of the pack. She’s important. We don’t run as well without her and we don’t run as well without me. The pups make sure we know that. But, they also make sure we know that we are each important on our own. So, yes, we do move well as a pack.

What does it all mean besides the fact that maybe instead of being an insulated couple with a bunch of kids we are a couple with a bunch of kids plus dogs? It means pack thought and movement, the ease of it and us with each other means that our sight lines have expanded. I play better with others. Like at BlogHer, I knew Denise had a solid “call back” and I didn’t need to keep checking. I could look, and see her or I could just trust she was with me and enjoy the other people I was there to see. She’d herd me from time to time like Skeeter. I would herd her a bit. Mostly though, we would spend time with others. Perfect.