Now one of the most widely traveled and accomplished aquatic dogs of all time, Roo, who will turn six on November 11th, has swum or splashed in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, the Sea of Cortez, the Mississippi, Ohio, Colorado, Connecticut, Missouri, Snake and Salmon rivers and a hundred others. She’s been in waters from the Great Lakes to the remote San Pedro River, a thin ribbon of water running through a paradise in the northern Sonoran Desert where it runs from Mexico to the United States across the border in southwest Arizona (and which, if any vile con artist ever gets wish to ruin with a wall, I promise you that I will lie in front of the bulldozers welded in chains anchored in boulders and have to be physically removed by cops and blowtorch crews). She’s been in lakes on the Canadian border on the east coast and west, in bays fronting the oceans from Casco to the San Juan, in melting glaciers that no one but the beavers and bears have seen in years to reservoirs, ponds, streams, brooks, creeks, waterfalls, swimming pools, under hoses and faucets in every single one of the lower 48 states, with the exception of New Jersey, the toxicity of whose waters I would have been too much to risk.
But it all started in a bucket in Los Angeles. Roo had been with me for about a month. She had just gone from foster dog to daughter dog. I hadn't been completely decided about adopting her until a growth on her shoulder appeared and had to be biopsied and I knew that if she was freshly adopted by someone else, an immediate vet bill and the prospect of a tumor of some kind could send her back into a shelter, and I knew that I wasn't able to maintain the distance you have to with a foster dog any longer. I loved the little girl and started to think of her as mine, or as much mine as any great spirit can be. She was still on edge, but not in the constant panic she was in at first, when just the sight of that bucket made her try to hide, and she was getting to learn about enjoying the things dogs love. It was a mistake, because I thought the wound would stay dry and a little water got to it and it had to be restitched.
The only thing that hasn't changed is what an idiot I am.