Gryfe turned five this week. He’s in that wonderful doggy sweet spot between puppy and old dog. He doesn’t chew things up that don’t belong to him (he never actually did), he doesn’t need non-stop activity and attention (he begs to differ), but he’s got energy to go hiking for as long as I want (always longer than I want), and he hasn’t yet started the slide into old, grey dog.
This morning, after singing him “Happy Birthday,” we were talking about how, if it hadn’t been for him, we wouldn’t have Darcy and Dory bouncing around in the goat yard right now.
You play this game, too, right?
The one where you reconstruct the trail of connections from one event to another that otherwise seem wholly unconnected.
Let’s see. How does this one go?
Oh right. If I hadn’t been looking for a Vizsla litter five years ago, and if I hadn’t looked online that one day and found a breeder whose dog was expecting a litter that week and who let me put our name on the list, and if we hadn’t gone to visit the puppies at four weeks old, and if we hadn’t gone to visit a Nigerian Dwarf goat breeder who lived near the puppies on that puppy-visiting trip, and if we hadn’t been talking goats with that breeder, and if she hadn’t mentioned the Golden Guernsey breed to us, and if we hadn’t been intrigued and later looked up the breed and made contact with a woman involved in the breeding program, and if we hadn’t bought three does from her…
There. From Gryfe to baby goats in one short paragraph.
Of course, we could go further back and trace the path that got us to looking for a puppy in the first place (start with our decision to get our first Vizsla, Phoebe, and work back from there).
How about this one? Darcy and Dory exist because…
M’s sister S moved to Boston. And because she was in Boston, M moved there. Which is where we met. And became friends and dated and married and moved to Pittsburgh and moved to Vermont and bought a dog, Phoebe, and then another dog, Gryfe.
Oh, and Hyla exists, thanks to S’s move, too. (I’m skipping a lot of small steps in there so that I don’t bore you.)
Okay, now this is interesting (I think). Let’s follow another branch. We moved to Pittsburgh because I accepted a TAship there for graduate school (if I’d made another choice, we might have ended up in Austin or Ann Arbor or elsewhere). Because we moved to Pittsburgh, M’s old friend (also M) decided to move there. And there he met his future wife, B, and because they met and fell in love, they had a bouncing baby boy. Now they also live in Vermont, and have dogs and cats and friends and bake amazing things and write stories and do all those things people do.
So the fact that S moved to Boston resulted in at least two marriages, two babies, two families living in Vermont, many dogs, cats. And, of course, Darcy and Dory. And who knows what else? This sweater I’m wearing. The books on my desk. The slope of my handwriting.
(By the way, thank you, S!)
Play this game enough and it becomes dizzying. You begin to realize (if you haven’t already) how unlikely it is that you—yes you, right there—or I exist at all.
What accidents of fortune and misfortune, what paths taken (or not taken), what choices made, what innocent, seemingly insignificant decision made by our great great great great great great great great grandparents resulted in me here, you there, me writing, you reading?
What did you do today that will change the course of your destiny? Or someone else’s?
I met a woman on the trail today; her three dogs greeted my one, and she and I talked. That was unusual. My walks are usually solitary. I’m thinking about her as I write, and wonder what tiny disturbances were set in motion when she and I stood talking in the mid-day glow.
It’s mind boggling.
The dog, however, doesn’t care about any of that. He had his walk. He had his visit to the goat barn. He had his extra treats with dinner. He chewed his squeaker-filled penguin toy until it squeaked for mercy. And now, birthday boy, he’s asleep on the sofa next to me, his paw twitching with a dream.