Sunday, June 08, 2014


One of the recurring themes when I reflect on my life with Sancha is the question of our sameness, and whether we were two peas in a pod and that's why we chose each other, or whether we mutually molded each other in our own image. Either way, for at least the last 10 years I would say that neither of us did anything that the other hadn't already anticipated.

But I would be lying.

Backstory: Sancha was a resolutely non-aquatic dog. She didn't need to be bathed often, as she was pretty delicate about dirt and puddles and her fur had a preternatural self-cleaning (i.e, massive shedding) function, but when she did: she did NOT enjoy it. She would submit to the torture, but it was always with her patented ASPCA look and surreptitious escape attempts when I relaxed my guard. Over the years she got better about doing her business in the rain, but she was very clear that once her business was done, she wanted back in a dry, warm sweater box. And while I don't think I ever tried to take her swimming, her body type did not suggest she would be aqua-dynamic. I am not a swimmer, but it never occurred to me that I was projecting my own water awkwardness onto her.

In summer 2013 I spent 10 days doing research in Spain and Sancha stayed with her amazing petsitters. I think it was the first time. They posted frequent pictures on their Facebook page of the dogs in their care, and although I felt guilty/paranoid about checking Facebook in the National Library of Spain, I legitimately had nothing else to do while I waited for my books to be disinterred and delivered from library's inner recesses. (It's not an open stacks library.) So while archivist gnomes hunted for my demonology guides and histories of confessions, I glanced around to check that no Franco-holdover guards were patrolling my row, and when the coast was clear, headed over to FB. Dogs playing. Dogs eating. Dogs on couch. Sancha on couch. Very cute, absent mother's mind at ease, just about to click away....and then I saw:


I don't think I have ever been so surprised in my life. I nearly fell off of my chair. Was it photoshopped? Did Jason have another dog who looked just like Sancha? When I had recovered the use of language, I wrote a quick email to the petsitters. Nope, Jason replied: that was Sancha alright! Apparently she not only surfed, she swam like a little "furry torpedo."

As soon as I got back home I tried to recreate this experience on my own. I didn't have a surfboard, but I took her to the exact same spot and prepared to launch my furry torpedo. Furry torpedo behaved exactly as I would have expected had I not seen these pictures. I.e, she gave me the "Do I look like a dolphin?" face and paddled desperately to shore. I tried once again a few weeks later and had the same results.

I have never really figured this out. Jason's theory is that it was a pack activity, and since I didn't bring along 5 other dogs, she wasn't into it.  My suspicion is that there are some things a girl will do when a hot guy in swim trunks is encouraging her that she just will not do with her mother.

And that I can relate to.

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