Hey, Mix Six fans! I’m on a much needed vacation this week, so Jack Feerick is going to be in charge of the mixing duties for a couple of weeks. This mix is a
tail tale of the complex nature of love and loss — with a very cute creature in the center of the narrative. So, click the link to the tunes, read on, and I’ll meet you back here in a couple of weeks. Take it away, Jack! –Ted
…or, “I Got 99 Problems But a Bitch Ain’t One.”
This is the bitch in question:
The name they gave her at the shelter was Katya. When we adopted her in May, they told us she was about two years old.
“Walk,” Not Drowning, Waving
I’m trying to get Katya leashed for a turn around the neighborhood. We live on a big loop road, about a half mile around the circuit. With grass and trees and rabbits making for interesting smells, it should be an enticing proposition for any dog. Katya, however, is having none of it. She circles around the rooms, never letting me get close enough to clip on the lead. We spiral into a standoff: me on one side of the easy chair, her on the other, just out of reach, each waiting for the other to break left or right. Both of us watchful, frozen.
“Sled Dog,” the Choir
Katya is a Husky mix, born to haul heavy loads through snow chest-high — bred to the whip. But when she was found she had no pack to run with, and the beatings she’d taken came without purpose or cause. We’ll never know what happened to her or how she lived those first two years — what drove her to run to the fields and woods till she was half wild and half dead, her blood thick with heartworm. We’ll never know what abuse she suffered to put such fear into her, to make her cringe and flatten when I finally slip a hand under her collar. We’ll never know. And I’ll never forgive.
“This Is Home,” Lucy Kaplansky
Katya’s a runner. They had to use a trap to get her into the shelter — she simply wouldn’t come near anyone, even when lured by food. We can’t let her out without a tether, and we don’t dare let any door in the house stand open for too long. She first ran away from us only four days after we got her, breaking free as I tried to leash her for a car ride; she shot across the road and vanished into miles of countryside. For a day and a night we despaired of ever seeing her again. After two days we got a call that she’d been spotted near a local roadhouse, and after long hours of searching she was recovered. Less than a week later she took off again.
“The Hungry Wolf,” X
Only my wife D has been able to get Katya back on the leash. I’ve heard anecdotally that adopted Huskies tend to bond intensely with one member of the household, to the exclusion of others. What I see between D and the dog — the way Katya follows her, gazes at her, relaxes around her — it humbles me. It seems to combine the finest qualities of human love and animal devotion. It is tender, and it is ferocious, and when I look at them, I can’t help but think: Thank God. Thank God they found each other.
“Husky Team,” the Saints
D is in training for a 5k run, and does long routes around the neighborhood. Her goal, she says, is to work up her speed so that she can run with Katya — really run — for more than a few minutes. Katya moves like a thunderbolt when she cuts loose; it is both wonderful and slightly terrifying. They run together in the early mornings, then I walk with Katya several times during the day. With me, she affects a desultory plod, tail low, skittering at every unexpected noise. When D and Katya run together, they are a pack of two; when I walk with Katya, I am her jailer.
“I Found Love,” Lone Justice
It’s late at night, and we are sitting in the kitchen, D and I, listening to the final inning of a Red Sox game. The Sox are winning, but grief is gathering on us nonetheless. The screen door stands partly open, because there’s no reason to close it now. The dog is gone again — bolted for the third time in as many weeks; she slipped out through that same screen door in the late afternoon and was quickly lost to the fields, the rain, the gathering dark. The whole thing feels like a bad dream, like an episode of heartbreak that will not end. This beautiful, screwed-up creature will not stick around to accept the love we are so desperate to give her, and all our good intentions count for sweet fuck-all. “I don’t know if I can do this anymore,” I say to D. “I just don’t think I can handle it again.”
And as we sit there, grieving, a snout pokes its way through the gap in the screen door, and Katya, miraculously, slinks into the kitchen as if she’d never left. I am laughing, almost crying. I would drop to my knees, throw my arms around her, and scratch that dirty neck, but I know she would never allow it. Something unclenches in my chest, and I am filled with a certainty: Love will conquer fear. It will take a long time, but it will come right in the end. We have found Katya, over and over, and now — just in time — she has found us.