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Bella Luna

Luna the Aussie

The universe has a way of either laughing at you or smiling upon you.  Recently I was smiled upon and those are the moments you carry with you to make it through the other times when you’re being laughed at.

A friend of ours. Jim, has a love of Italy much like our own.  He and his wife bought a place many years ago in a small village about an hour and a half north of Rome called Blera.  They never moved here like we did, just visited for as long as they could while still working in the US.  His wife recently passed away and to try and mend his soul and his heart he spent some time in Italy with his dog, Luna.

Jim had to go back to the US, but wanted to return to Italy when his obligations were completed.  Luna is too big to fly in the cabin like Millie so she has to fly in the cargo hold.  And that is traumatic for everyone, not least of all Luna.  So Jim took a chance and asked us if we would keep her for a few weeks.  We were happy to help him out.  But I was a little apprehensive of having another dog around so soon after Millie left us.  Would I resent her because she wasn’t Millie?  Would I figure out her peculiarities in enough time to really bond with her?  Would I grow attached to her and have to suffer through losing another four-legged?  And worst of all, what if she didn’t like me?

And so Luna came to stay with us for a month.  Jim brought her to our house and stayed with us one night.  Luna adjusted to the new environment just fine, even sniffing out Millie’s favorite bed and claiming it for her own.  I was so thrilled about that.  I was wondering what to do with that bed.  I didn’t want to throw it away and giving someone a used dog bed didn’t seem right.  But now it’s going home with Luna as a supplement to the spaces she has there.

Luna on Millie’s bed

When Jim left the next day, Luna was a little bothered.  She’s a herding dog and she knew one of her pack was missing.  A very important part of her pack.  She spent some time looking for him, wandering around the apartment where she stayed with him.  I let her do her vigil and she finally started following me around.  She was damned determined not to lose another one of the pack.   In fact, she wouldn’t go for a walk with just me or just Steve.  I think she thought that if she kept us together there was a better chance of us both sticking around.  She finally got used to going with just me, but she still didn’t like it.  When we would start up the road, she would pause and turn around to look at the house, thinking surely he’ll come out now and join us.  I would nudge her on and she would reluctantly proceed.  Upon our return home, she would seek him out to make sure he hadn’t vanished.

Luna was a big, hairy Millie.  The similarities between them were astonishing.  Maybe that’s the way it is with dogs.  They have so much in common.  She was smart and gentle and loving.  Of course, there were differences, too.  Where Millie was anxious Luna was laid back.  Where Millie was food-motivated, Luna could watch crumbs fall to the floor and yawn.  But the differences made her so much more interesting.  And honestly, if she had been more like Millie, it might have too much for me.

I had such big plans for Luna.  I envisioned long walks on some of my favorite routes, stopping to let her send some p-mails, read some others, sniffing all the smells in Anghiari that are different from Blera.  But it rained every single day she was here.  We had moments of clearness, sometimes even blue skies and sun, but for the most part it was gray and dreary and rainy.  Walks were short and messy and not planned.  We dashed out when the rain stopped.  We spent a lot of time inside, Luna and I.  We had many great conversations and got to know each other very well.

I believe that animals, both wild and domesticated, have more of an understanding of the world than most humans do.  They must in order to survive.  And I’ve had enough pets to know that they all come with their own set of proclivities and and insecurities.  They are complex beings.  But such joyous ones.  The house was full with Luna here.  Caring for her was a reminder that no matter how independent we become our nurturing instinct is still there, ready to provide and love and put something or someone else’s needs before our own.

It was good to have a dog in my life again.  It made me think that it would be possible to allow another four-legged to occupy my space.  But not now.  I needed Luna, but my heart is still raw from Millie being ripped from it.  I’m glad to know that I have the ability to fall in love again and that one day I’ll find another dog to go through life with.  And if you think I’ve gone on way too much about Millie and the loss I’ve suffered, then you’ve never loved an animal.  It’s a love that is so complete and gratifying that it humbles you.

So for those few weeks when the universe smiled upon me, I was content.  I had a life with me whose sole purpose was to bring joy to the world.  And now I know that I have the capacity to love another dog, to let another dog show me what she is about and reveal her secrets to me.  To come up to me and nudge me with her nose for a pat or roll over for a belly rub.  And my fears about another dog in my space?  All put to rest with the first cold nose that brushed against me with a hearty tail wag.  There’s always room for more canine love in the heart, even in one that is still broken.

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