4 degrees this morning. 12 degrees at noon. Did you see? Chicago was voted the fifth least desired destination to live in the USA! Yes! We're almost #1! One reason listed was that people can't stand the winters. Buck up, chappies!

I have been pondering a small thing. The haiku masters would see it as a meditation on wabi/sabi. All that sorrow and tenderness and ephemeral sweetness of a fleeting life. But, you know, I'm just thinking about dogness. I know the world is ending, and the people are losing their jobs, and the motor companies are failing. (Good-bye before I ever got you, Mustang GT 500!) But dogness prevails.

We have this runty little bastard named Rudy. He's half Chihuahua and half Rat Terrier. And he can't quite figure out which half is which--he's small, but all muscles. He's willful, yet cowardly, yet fierce, yet trembly, yet ferocious yet google-eyed. He thinks he's a Great Dane.

Sadly, he has the curse of sudden, catastrophic seizures. I don't know why--neither does the vet. He's a young, robust dog, but sometimes he goes into terrible shaking fits that seem as if he'd about to die. The women in the house flee in terror and weep, so it ends up being Dad-Man who holds him and tries to ride it out.

A few nbights ago, we were watching TV--it might have been the crap on the tube that put him over--and he went into a bad, bad attack. His eyes were so huge--all he could move was his eyes. He was rigid and rattling and drool fell out of his mouth. It was helpless and terrible, and I held him and promised him it would pass. How lame does that sound? Like some cheesy doggy novel for Cub Scouts, but's that's the way it is. If you have animals, you know.

He pulled through, of course. But it made everybody in the house cry.

Now, here's the thing--ever since his attack, Rudy seeks me out. He makes it a point to lean against me, or to climb in my lap. He comes to wake me up every morning. And, for the first time ever, he always comes to me and licks the back of my hand. Over and over, he licks the back of my hand, then lays his head against me.

He knows, doesn't he? He understands in some way that I helped him. I think...I think he's actually grateful. It's amazing. It's amazing for me, as a writer, because I see something happening in my home that I can't figure out how to put in a book or story. I'd never get away with it. It's so...maudlin.

Real life, man--even with fleas, it trumps the alternative every time. Stay warm. Stay alive.

Adios, amigos--

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