Lina is my companion, my loyal friend. My greatest joy. Before I found Lina I had a dog whom I loved utterly and will always love, named Zeppo.
Zeppo is sublime. He has a disease of the eyes, and everyone he meets asks if he has cataracts. The entire orb of eye is coated in milky blue with a sheen, and the effect is akin to gazing at large azure pearls. His ears seem as if they'd sit more comfortably on the head of a biggish elf, and his coat is a wiry scruff of orange, with cowlicks and curly hackles. To make you laugh he grins and bares his funny teeth, will make you scream Clown! in delight. His visage in these moments is a mix between Cujo and the Nutty Professor. Yet Zeppo makes up for being weak-sighted with those lofty ears of his, ears which grace him with a skillful pay-off in the service of his greatest talent. That dog sure knows how to croon.
I love to sing, and sing around the house often. When Zeppo came into my life, my instincts told me he'd be tuneful so I proceeded to try a few songs on for his size. The day I pulled out the Merrie Melodies songbook and “I Love To Sing-a” by Owl Jolson was the day sparks went off behind those blue pearls and he joined me for our first duet. His notes arched to meet my pitch and would fall off as did mine, rising softly again to meet a trill. What a miraculous doggie soprano! Zeppo was also very fond of singing the soundtrack to Kander and Ebb's Cabaret. We sang often, we sang loud, and the joy we felt was contagious to all who witnessed.
The same person that brought Zeppo into my life and shared him with me took him away one day. I haven't seen him since. Not a day goes by without me thinking of his little clown smile, his croon and his steadfast love. Zeppo was my very first dog. I had no idea he would be the one to teach me how to love and be loved by another creature unconditionally. A dog will never hurt you, betray your trust or lie to you. Dogs lay their cards on the table and are loyal to the end. They know when you're happy, can sense when you're hurting and they instinctually understand just what to do to calm your heart. Can one find a better teacher on the path of love? Just as I will love Zeppo to the end of my days for the pure joy he embodies, I know in his little doggie soul, he misses his singing partner. I pray that he has a good life and will forever mourn the loss of his company.
I didn't believe I'd ever have another dog after Zeppo—the thought of replacing him was too much to bear. Then one day I nearly walked right past a fenced-in cluster of pooches on the sidewalk. Rescues up for adoption. I paused. And there I spied a little freckle-faced girl dog. She looked up at me with brown mournful eyes and my heart nearly broke the bars of its ribcage. I brought her home and now hardly a moment goes by when she isn't right by my side.
Lina is named after Cicciolina, the Italian politician and former porn star. This was the obvious choice of name, since she'd come to me from the streets with political aspirations. Her being part Italian Greyhound probably explains how she can clear five steps in a single bound. Flying squirrel, meerkat, or dog? I wonder. Lei è miracolo! When I meditate, Lina sits in my lap. When I dance, Lina dances with me. She can't carry a tune to save her life but I nearly named her Pina Bausch for her twinkle-toed step work. She sleeps as close to me as is caninely possible, we cuddle through the night and in the morning when I'm about to feed her breakfast, she does the pogo at the kitchen counter and my heart just melts.
While it is true that Zeppo will never be replaced, he is now accompanied in heart-space.
I guess I can finally say, I'm lucky in love.