Heavenly Moments

Dogs are an act of faith. An act of desperation. Not sure why everyone doesn’t have a dog. Or why we can’t take them to church. More on that in a moment.

I think many of us were wired to be martyrs, which is another reason we have dogs.

To have a dog is to always have fuzz on your socks and a lawn that needs fixing. To have a dog is to never sleep late on a rainy morning.

I was chasing one down the boulevard the other day. She’d ripped her leash from my hand, and I was doing that “Stop! Stop! Stop!” thing you do when a dog gets loose in traffic, then a couple of cyclists stopped to yell “Stop! Stop! Stop!” as well.

Did you know there were still Good Samaritans left in LA? Me neither. But there they were, helping me save the dog that, at that moment, I hated very much, yet would’ve laid down my life to save (see “martyrs” above).

I am a reluctant dog owner. Inherited the husky from my late son. Inherited the golden from my lovely and patient older daughter, who went off on vacation and – like Magellan — never came back.

I am losing kids and gaining dogs. What do the economists call it? A zero-sum game? Pareto-optimal?

I miss them though. ’Specially the little rascal I call “Cakes.”

Meanwhile, I am walking my daughter’s dog, ensnared in their two leashes, with a poo bag flapping this way and that like a bag of jellybeans.

Then she picks up a stray stick. Golden retrievers are always picking up stray sticks – that’s their main job.

“Stop, no-no-no-no, give-that-to-me … give it,” I yell, badgering her with as many confusing commands as possible.

So, yeah, we’ve had some challenging walks lately, first the escape, now this splintered flotsam, a piece of Noah’s Ark raking my soft suburban hand as I try to pry it from her mouth, which has something like 50,000 teeth.

Great morning for a dog walk. We woke to drizzle. Unusual for September. In September, you’re more likely to wake to wildfires, record heat, blackouts.

We don’t care. Honestly, we just roll with it. LA. Whatever.

This morning there is also music. We pass a homeowner blasting John Williams out of her garage at 8 am on a Sunday. I mumble to the dogs – “What a nice lady, entertaining her neighbors like this,” as the “Star Wars” battle cry echoes down her street.

Her message: Wake up! Rejoice! Get going!

You’re familiar with Williams, right? Like Beethoven, only a bit more commercial. I mean, really shamelessly commercial. As in everywhere.

Don’t judge. Have you ever seen Frank Gehry’s sailboat down in the marina, with the teak and the super-expensive hardware? Total knockout. Floating sculpture. If a boat could be Ava Gardner…

Point is: These rich dudes have a few expenses too, just like the rest of us.

As you know, Williams writes the world’s loudest music, the kind where every musician is playing at full volume — the bassoons, the oboes, the Gallic horns. The percussionists stand in the back, windmilling their arms, as if falling backwards off a high ladder.

In a Williams piece, there are notations in the percussionists’ sheet music: “Just bash everything you can! The gong. The triangle. The glockenspiel. The snare.”

Anyway, during a Williams scoring session, the violinists saw furiously at their instruments, and the cellists are on the edge of their seats – gasping, pushing, as if giving birth. Push! Push! Just one more … push!!!

So, to recap, that’s the music coming from this woman’s open garage early Sunday morning. Don’t you love it? Wake up, petunias! Wake up, sparrows. Wake up, Russ and Moira. It’s Sunday! The Rams play in three hours! Wake up! Rejoice!

I look at it as a call to arms, much like September itself. September signifies change, and I embrace change.

FYI, there are laws of inertia that govern change. If something is fine, it changes. If something is broken, it doesn’t. That’s probably my best explanation for change.

For instance, why can’t you take your dogs to church? I’d attend much more frequently if you could just bring your dog. Always found a rather divine demeanor in dogs. My husky White Fang might, in fact, be a re-incarnated Russian rabbi.

Anyway, people drag their dogs everywhere these days, why not church? “Pups in the Pew,” I’d call it. “Honoring Our Dogs, Past and Present.” As they say, dog spelled backward…

I mean, can’t you just hear me, hissing near the back? “Pray, White Fang. For the love of God…”

You know, some say writing is a form of prayer. Well, so are dogs.

Email the columnist at Letters@ChrisErskineLA.com. For past columns and books, please go to ChrisErskineLA.com

8 thoughts on “Heavenly Moments

  1. Great! You gave away the secret I used when I couldn’t read the percussion notations in Middle School…“Just bash everything you can! The gong. The triangle. The glockenspiel. The snare.” Worked for me….

  2. You have described the dog owning experience perfectly. You should check around. Our former church in Laguna Hills allowed well-behaved pets, and several people brought their dogs regularly. One guy brought his rescue hen, Carmenita, named after the freeway off ramp where he picked her up. You may find a pet friendly church in your area…although the “well behaved” requirement may be a challenge.

  3. These early morning stream-of-consciousness high wire riffs are an art form, a delicate balancing act whose hidden delicacy can make you shiver with anticipation. Will he make it across the yawning language gap he just opened up; and then he does True artistry is always awe-inspiring, and awe is a form of prayer. As is reading, don’t you know. On this fresh, bright, clear, perfectly beautiful Autumn Saturday morning whose illuminate air makes all things glow, reading this Hymn To Dogs, I say Amen.

  4. As a dog rescuer you couldn’t have described it better. My wish in life is to buy a ranch (or winery) in Santa Ynez, wake up every morning with a hot cup of java, wearing my jeans and the most comfortable cowboy boots, hop on my tractor and just cruise my property with my 10+ rescue dogs behind me. Life is sweet!

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