In 2018 and 2019, Sue and I were on the road much of our time. We had talks about getting a cat and a dog, thinking about the practical side and what they would bring to the table, or perhaps the floor below the table. Our cat, Minnie, insists on drinking water from my water glass on the kitchen table. We live in a rural setting, up on a ridge where many folks grow corn and soy and raise cattle. The ridge is called Pea Ridge because the soil is so rocky that the only thing that would grow on it were peas. Our modified “A” frame cabin has two floors Sue likes to call an attic and a basement. In the basement, in the winter, we have seen mice. A cat is a good mouser, so there’s a seasonal job. Though we have neighbors a few acres away, we liked the thought of a dog that could perhaps bark when something was up outside, whether the four legged or two legged.
Sue thought of an idea while we were on the road touring in 2019. She thought wouldn’t it be fun to rescue an older dog and do a tour called The Old Dog Tour, giving an older dog a chance to kick out the jams one more time. When we got back from our west coast tour in 2019, Sue found that old dog while volunteering at the animal shelter near where we live. She got home one day in early December from the shelter and said, “there’s a dog at the shelter I think you should meet.”
I asked myself to describe Maya in four words, and I came up with sensitive, loving, spirited and hopeful. If I were to add a fifth word, it would be musical.
Maya was different from other dogs I have known in two respects: when we would sit by the front door to put our shoes on, whether we were taking her for a walk or going out for other business, she would disrupt the tying of shoelaces. On so many occasions Sue and I would say, “Would you hold her back so I can tie my shoes?” We assumed she didn’t want us to leave. Even when we tried letting her know, “We’re going for a walk that includes you,” she would put her snout on our feet preventing us from tying our shoes.
The other way Maya was different from other dogs that I had known was that she loved to sing. We brought Maya home from the shelter at the end of the first week of December in 2019. We were told to give Angel, her previous owners given name, a month to settle in. About a week before Xmas we watched the holiday film, White Christmas, and when Bing Crosby started singing the song, “White Christmas.” Maya started singing with him. She also loved the NBC network news’ theme music and the opening brass arrangement for NPR.
For a dog that slept as much as Maya did, there was an abundance of activity as well. In that sense, she was a balanced being.
And she needed that balance when she was looking for rabbits. On our daily walks, there is a spot where she always suspected the rabbits were. As she approached the spot, she would start hopping and on her landings, the balance paid off, like an Olympic gymnast. We sometimes wondered if the hopping was her way of pretending to be a rabbit, so that the rabbits wouldn’t think she was a dog?
Popcorn night was music to Maya’s ears. She knew what the sound of the hot air popping machine meant, popped and un-popped kernels finding their way to the floor because hopping in the bowl just wasn’t in the cards for them. They were meant for Maya. We make popcorn about once a week, two big bowls that take about twenty minutes. Our popping machine is a small one. Maya would be at my feet the entire time just waiting for a kernel to drop. She was always ready to be helpful, to make sure the floor was free from fallen food from the counter.
Wilma paid a visit this morning. She and her companion, a Great Pyrenees, usually stop by in the morning, uninvited. Wilma, a friendly, snorting, rooting pig is our neighbor’s across the road. We haven’t gotten the name of their dog, but she seems friendly as well. On a morning like this, Maya would be protecting us from the flesh eating omnivore. She would be at the west facing floor-to-ceiling windows, pushing away the curtains and barking incessantly at the inhaling, overeater. We wondered if Maya’s previous owner had ever given her bacon?
She came to us as Angel and left as Maya, that is Maya Angelou, after the poet. We wanted to have our own name for her and thought, Maya Angelou still had Angel in it.
Maya was a rainbow on cloudy days. Maya was amazing because she wasn’t normal.
Maya got very sick over the summer and decided to move along. She joined up with The Old Dog Tour.
Here’s wishing everyone a kind, colorful fall season. Thanks for supporting the music and reading the blog…
Here’s a demo of a song that I wrote just after Maya joined The Old Dog Tour.
p.s. Black Walnut Ink is for sale again. Please write if you’d like to purchase any. I sell two ounce bottles, $8 each. Great for letter writing and song lyrics (see above) with a dip pen…