Saturday, January 12, 2013

Manna in the Morning

After many months of research and discussion with breeders of Flat Coat Retrievers, my wife Christie and I brought home a new addition to our home; a 16 pound 11 week old bundle of high energy wrapped up in coal-black fur. We have not had a dog in our home for over a year after our last golden retriever passed away, and I was a little leery about bringing a puppy into the household. We had raised a puppy before and new what we were getting into, but at the same time, like many things, you tend to forget about the negatives of such a venture. That said, on a trip to Oregon to see family, we picked Manna up and flew with her under our seat in a carrier to her new home in San Diego, California. We live in a small 1926 bungalow near downtown and Balboa Park. It has a fairly good size back yard useful for dog play, and a wonderful dog park a few blocks away. Our area of South Park is a wonderful walkable neighborhood with a small quaint commercial area of restaurants and specialty shops, surrounded by mostly early century craftsman and bungalow style homes. Since bringing Manna home, we have created certain routines (as routine as you can get with a new puppy), and experiencing the many joys and frustrations of puppyhood. One of the sort of routines we have entered into is my early rising with her (around 4:30-5:00 AM) as this seems to be her limit of sleeping. We have been crate training her from the start, still experiencing a few frustrating nights, but over all she seems to be settling in just fine. This Blog is just my thoughts, experience, and wonderment of the morning hours she and I share.


James Scott Fleming said...

It has been a wonderful cool and rainy winter here in San Diego so far. A few days of rain then a week of extended sunshine, then more rain. A bit unusual, but welcomed in my book. We seemed to have brought back som Oregon weather with us when we brought Manna home. This early January moring is unusually cold, but clear. The racing on the thermometer was 38 when I first let Manna out of her crate at 5:00 AM. Naturally, Benjamine the cat also wanted to be let in the back door. She and Manna have so far forged a tentative understanding and tolerance of each other. Manna wanting to play; Benjamine having none of it. These early mornings have started to give me a new appreciation for waking early, though I must say I think i would at time rather be snuggled under the covers in bed. However, as this boring, I get to see things that I wouldnt normally be experiencing; the beatifule red sky in the east at the sun's early dawning, the old oak tree in the back yard coppery with the tinges of the early rays of light. I stand in my robe and sox in the yard with coffee cup in hand as Manna does her business, and sniffs around expectantly in the grass and bushes. There are two brown squirrels who live in the pine tree behind the oak that scamper around in the bar twisting limbs, hoping I will go away so they can come down and swing on the bird feeder filling thier jowels with seed. Manna is
particularly vivatious this morning, it will take a while to calm her down to the point where she will be resting on the couch with me in the time before Christie wakes.

James Scott Fleming said...


This refers to a quote from a book by the Monks of New Skete, an order that writes about and trains dogs as part of their tradition. "Dogs are subjects in the kingdom of now, fully present to the pulse of each moment". Boy, is that true. The early morning dawn hours seem to be a time to let one's self be present to this thought as a temporary respite from the day ahead's many challenges. When I look at Manna sitting there while I pour my first cup of coffee, here eyes wide with an expectancy i can't fathom this early, I ask her out loud; ""what is it puppy?" Is it food, play, or some other need I'm unaware of ? It turns out that it really doesn't matter, because whether I feed her, take her outside and throw a ball or stick, or just pick her up and hold her for a moment, she has a positive response. She's not worrying about whether or not that Client's late check finally comes today, or how much hassle is this afternoons meeting going to bring, or if I'm going to meet a certain project deadline. She's wrapped in the moment for only its own sake. She is lucky enough to enjoy that particular time for all its sacred wholeness, being of one with it and only it. And then of course, after that nano second of sweetness, she is off to the bedroom to grab a shoe or some other object that is laughingly suppose to be banned from her puppy jowls. The sun is just now coming up, but I can still see a few bright stars through the reaching limbs of the tree as I stand on the back porch, Manna rooting around in the large jade plant tearing off large chunks, and I worry a little what this yard is going to look like a few months from now. But, there I go again thinking about tomorrow. Maybe for the moment I'll just stand here and feel the warmth of my coffee mug in my hand in the cold morning air, the frigid concrete on my shoeless feet, listen to the caw of that large black crow that comes every morning and sits on the roof of the back garage, and join Manna for a little time in the Kingdom of Now.