I am missing my yoga partner. She was demure, quiet, never one to impose. Now she doesn’t show up, even though I haven’t changed the time or place. Carla doesn’t do yoga anymore.
She would always wait until I had already started. Then, suddenly, she would just lie down next to my mat and stretch out. Carla was never one to impose, but she had the kind of self assurance that one apparently gains from being born beautiful and always loved and admired. She was always welcome. If I was lying flat on my back I could usually reach over and give her a rub at the same time. Then, if I needed to turn my back to her for a different position, she would just casually walk around to the other side of me and give me a gentle nudge with her paw. If it took me a while to respond, she would give me another nudge, perhaps not so gentle. I don’t know what all the gurus would say, but to my mind it was perfectly okay to interrupt a yoga session to play with a basset hound. In fact, I would recommend it. After a short session that might involve belly rubbing , ear scratching, or, if I was feeling brave, some dewlap dawdling, Carla would give a contented snort and hoist herself up to the futon and leave me to the rest of my session. She was never an in your face, look at me, needy kind of dog, but she always wanted company and not to be left alone. These last few days, as she began to lose the ability to follow us around the house, she began barking for us to come and be with her, until at last even barking was too much work.
Carla came to us at the end of June in 2007 because a very nice man named Carlos had to find her at home. His small family loved her very much but dogs were not allowed at the migrant worker housing that they lived in and it is very hard to hide a basset hound anywhere. They are the cutest puppies imaginable, all soft and cuddly little fur balls, but once they get growing they remain forever cute but otherwise problematic. They howl for one thing and, for another, they tend to wander, following their very adept noses. Thus, when we adopted Carla, she had been trained to very quiet and she did not bark for the longest time.
Despite her great beauty, Carla had flaws. Somewhere along the way, she developed back problems, which is not uncommon among the long and low hounds. Also, she was a bit lop sided, so that when she ran or danced she frequently followed a path that was unusual even for a basset hound, sort of a series of semi-circles. It was hilarious and the sound of our laughter fueled her excitement until suddenly she would stop and look at us like we were crazy.
Oftentimes, she would bark and bark and bark for what seemed to the casual human observer to be no reason at all. She’s daft, I would think. Over time, though, we began to realize that there was a reason, such as an animal or human approaching that mere humans could not so easily detect. Carla was a good hunter and a good protector. Never, however, has a more gentle soul lived, unless of course you were another dog making the mistake of approaching her food dish. She seemed to prefer murky water to clean water, but over the past recent months she began to drink more and more water, which should have been our clue Her kidneys stopped working until, finally, on Beethoven’s birthday, renal failure did her in.
Dog owners give their dogs names, of course. We named Carla after the man we got her from, and it was a good name. Over the years, though, nicknames and other affectionate terms develop. Sometimes she was Squishy. Sometimes it was silly, like making the first letter of her name a B and calling her Barla. For me, I couldn’t stop talking to her throughout any walk, short or long. So it became good girl, which eventually became , “That’s a goo!” and then goo goo until it finally became Goo Goo Gulewski. Now I have to do yoga without her. I don’t like that at all/