White Dog

image of Frances & White Dog in Soquel, CA, 1980

Frances, “There’s a dog at our door, Timothy.”

Tim, “They’re really loud, the mice.”

(Frances: I lay on my stomach on the big bed, kissed and rekissed the inside of Timothy’s knees… I had a feeling of great warmth. Then I heard the scratching on our front door.)

We get up, flip on the porch light and peak out from opposite sides of the curtain, carefully, nervously, as if in a ghost story. There he is, the white dog. He looks up at me.

“I want him to come visit,” knowing that Timothy doesn’t like dogs.

I open the door, he comes in slowly as if he’s lived here all his life. He goes straight to the kitchen with his nose near the floor, slowly circles back, looks up at us benevolently, quietly lies down in front of the piano and goes to sleep. After a few minutes I forget about him.

He is white and clean, as if he’s been laundered. There is a wide satin ribbon tied around his neck. How comfortable to have him here, and how protective he seems to be. It has been a long time since I’ve had a dog, maybe he’ll stay. But how will we carry him around in our Volkswagon with the cello and all the instruments? And almost nobody will rent a house to somebody with a dog. And he’ll eat too much. There’s no room in this house for a big white dog… He might get run over by a car. I don’t wanna get attached to him and have him get killed, like the dogs of my childhood.

But we wouldn’t have to take him with us. He’s a big dog, he can hang around outside when we’re gone.

I dog-dream for a couple hours that night until the dog gets to up to stand quietly by the front door; I can feel him there. I move into the front room to tell him goodbye. I open the door and he leaves, quietly, silently. I close the door and lock it, look at the empty space where the dog slept. The room seems very large and empty, though it is really quite small and very occupied. I imagine White Dog saving us from burglars and mad men and young Mormon elders on the make for converts. I imagine he is Christ come to see what we are up to, he has those kind of eyes, soft and sad, lonely.

I’m glad to be alone again with Timothy. I climb into the big bed, snuggle up for a long winter’s night.

Tim: “When I heard the unusual sound at the front door, I was frightened. Didn’t want any company, not the neighbors, not the police, not even the relatives. So I heard mice in the kitchen. I deal in generalities. I mistrusted any intrusion on our creative cabin, prejudiced before I saw him. But he seemed harmless, an unlikely chap to drop by for a visit, needing a warm place to take a nap. He may be on a big journey. It felt good, offering our dry place and sound space for awhile. I really didn’t worry about his not leaving, I enjoyed seeing you enjoy his presence.”

Frances: “I had the same feeling about the dog that I did about the white bird who circled in front of us as we sat composing a song on that moonlit night in Jeffers country, the Carmel mountains, nearly a year and a half ago. The bird circled, turned around and looked, as if he wanted us to follow him. When White Dog walked out the door, he turned and looked at us as if to say, “I’ll be back, my friends.”

image of White Dog in Soquel, CA, 1980

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