For a moment after I wake up I think I am in my house in the Midwest. But the room seems unfamiliar, the first pale glimmers of light come from windows on the wrong side of the room, and I am facing a wall.
Ah. This is Los Angeles. This is my home now, this strange, unfamiliar landscape, this desert of hot sun and cold nights and streets that stretch for miles and dense thickets of humanity.
Back in the Midwest, it is a bright winter day. The sky is a clear brilliant blue, and the fresh layer of snow is pristine in the early morning. The house is quiet, and Indi stirs slightly in her nest beside my bed, waiting for me to wake up. When I get up she stretches and wriggles her compact little terrier body, shakes out the night, and is instantly wide awake and open to the possibility of play and mischief. She hunts for a sock that may have been left on the floor, or a toy she can run with, circling from the living room to the dining room to the kitchen and back down the hall to me, where she pauses, her tail dancing, challenging me.
I play with her for a few minutes and then we go to the back door and I open it onto her yard, neatly enclosed with chain link fencing, and big enough for her to run in circles when she has a burst of energy, or when she plays with her best friend Olive. Indi and Olive’s play dates, here or in Olive’s back yard, are the highlights of Indi’s week.
Wrapped up in sweats and warm socks, I take a cup of coffee to the dining room and sit at the round oak table and write and plan my day. Outside, Indi comes to the door and presses her nose against the window, only her head visible as she silently begs to be let in. I let her in, feed her breakfast, and continue my writing. I am working on a novel, and it is not going well. I am three-quarters of the way through it but it will not open up its secrets to me, and I am frustrated.
At her request I pick her up and hold her on my lap. She is just the right size for me – a real dog, sturdy and strong and perfectly proportioned – and she settles on my lap and is content but still alert, looking around and outside through the sliding glass doors. We sit there, together, while I struggle with my novel.
When I put the novel aside for the day, after a round of toast and more coffee, I get dressed and take Indi for a walk around the neighborhood, where she ‘reads the newspapers’ and catches up with current scents. Then I go to the computer in my studio, where the real business of the day begins, and I become, through its portals, a citizen of the world.
Indi joins me, between circuits in her yard, until I stop for the day, or prepare for upcoming appointments. If it’s a day for dog-friendly errands, I take her with me – to the post office, the hardware store or, best of all, the pet store. She loves to ride in the car, and is a quiet and polite passenger, always ready for the next adventure.
If I must leave her behind, it is always with guilt, even if she doesn’t whimper as I open the front door. Her whimper breaks my heart, but I would gladly let it crack and break if I could hear it now.
And then it is the end of the day, and I am at home again, and Indi greets me with ever-new enthusiasm and love, and we take another walk, or play in the yard, Indi leaping in the snow and circling the yard in a final burst of energy.
The evening settles around us as I prepare dinner and measure out Indi’s dinner, talking to her and sometimes filling in her side of the conversation with a “she says.” The cooking odors attract her, and she patters around the kitchen, alert for crumbs and spills. I say, “Hot! Hot!” when she gets too near the stove. “Not to worry,” she says. “I’m pretty smart for my size.”
After dinner I fill Indi’s roll-about toy with treats and she noses it about, clanking it against walls and furniture until she releases and devours every last morsel. If I have no evening plans, I read or watch a movie, and Indi curls up on the couch near me, close enough to touch, so that I must nudge her playfully now and again because she is so near. She stretches and sighs, sometimes lifting her head to take a quick, reassuring look at me. We are comfortable and cozy and content. The snow is like a blanket surrounding us, and we are warm inside our home.
But I am in Los Angeles, where it rarely snows, and for now she is with Bev, her breeder. My Indi has the freedom of a spacious farm, and the companionship of a half dozen female terriers. From all reports she is the leader of the pack, the chief mischief-maker, and is having a good time.
So Olive must look out for a new BFF.
And Indi is not with me.