After dinner I picked up the dishes as usual, Alanis’s from outside the kitchen and Miró’s from beside the sink. Miró eats from a standard, stainless steel dog bowl—he wouldn’t care if it were a paper plate or sterling silver. Washing Alanis’s royal blue melamine bowl, I remembered my search last year for a bowl she would eat from. She wouldn’t eat from a metal bowl because it was too noisy; she wouldn’t eat from a bowl with too-steep sides, yet I couldn’t serve her kibble on a plate or the food would wind up all over the floor. Also, it couldn’t be an expensive bowl because I didn’t know at the time how many bowls I’d have to buy before hitting on the right one. I went to three stores, looking at every bowl on the shelves, checking weight and the sound of a nail tapping the side.
When Alanis first arrived and was too afraid to eat or drink, a friend wise in the ways of dogs wrote to me, “I believe dogs truly think they will die when removed from their packs.” Weeks went by before Alanis ate like a normal Airedale, which is to say, happy to eat anything without hesitation. She still has a ladylike way of taking food, hence the need to feed her some distance from Miró who inhales twice as much kibble in half the time and then dashes over to check her bowl.
I rinsed the blue bowl and thought about the events that led to Alanis’ arrival: the illness and deaths of my previous two Airedales within six weeks of each other one year ago, the bleak and utter silence of my life when they were gone.
This house is Alanis’s territory now. She barks when she hears the other neighborhood dogs, when someone comes to the door, sometimes even when my son comes up from downstairs, as if she has forgotten he has been living here all summer. Miró has started joining in, with an even deeper, louder bark. I can hear them from the far end of the back yard, the street, my office upstairs. If they decide to bark when I’m talking to someone, we can’t hear each other. It’s terribly annoying. I laugh every time their cacophonous noise fills the house.