Colin & Kim
Colin plays rugby and writes novels, he is currently writing a story about rugby. Kim retired from work for a year (or some years) and is busy pursuing her art practice. They have a cute (but huge) dog named Humphrey. He loves bread. I personally never heard of a dog who loved bread so much. Once, he jumped up and stole a loaf of bread off the table so fast that a dozen guests didn't even notice.

Humphrey (2010-04-22): My dear dear Shie, I have overheard the intricate and rolling sounds of Kim and Colin who spoke of your pup and how all was not well. Then they spoke of how with industry and love you cared for the little one and now she resides in your cave with you and the man who eats a tremendous amount. The great dog has shone a light on you, and in its cast you most probably have seen in yourself capacities that a few moons ago you would not have imagined to exist. We have a saying that a mountain constantly knows and constantly forgets its spring flowers. It does not travel well in translation. Perhaps it is enough to say that gifts emerge corresponding to the season in which we find ourselves. I write to you tonight Shie because I have found myself in another season altogether. My hips have lost their capacities and one of my legs is stiff with the stone disease. I am in constant pain, Shie. And I think it is best to howl once more, across the many caves, to you. When the moon was in its full wane some time back Colin and Kim and the pups Nathaniel and Luke drove up to the mountains, and there I met the bitch I'm so fond of, she who is named Calle. Oh did we run and forage! But these pleasures grew terrible in my joints, and after a few blinks of the great dog's eye I could no longer walk. Colin had to lift me from the circle-shape legged transport, in whose rumbling belly I sometimes lie. He had to coax me to the tree outside our cave. I had no appetite for food. Soon they began to feed me a delicious substance - Shie, have you ever heard of peanut butter? It is delicious on the tongue but it adds a terrible drowsiness and soon I was lurching about like a goat who had descended to the orchards to feast on the fallen apples. In my state I was terrified of the pups who ran around and over me, and I could not lift my head, as it felt like a great boulder and the floor of the cave the soft ground. After a time I recovered and for some blinks of the Great eye you could not imagine how wonderful it was to prance about, and Colin and Kim admired my stride, and a certain heaviness lifted from the looks they held me with. But soon my legs began to stiffen again, despite the peanut butter, and I was once again in a great deal of pain. And the murmurings of my master's began to take on ominous tones, and I knew the ritual had begun. In the mountains, once an old dog cannot hunt, there is a time where he is given his portion, out of dignity and respect. But this extends only so far, and soon it is the old dog's responsibility to sneak off into the night, find a ravine and lie down in the presence of all of his memories and the creator. And in some occasions he is set upon by wolves and in others he is taken by thirst and hunger, but in all cases it is proper and what he endures is seen with pleasure by the Great Dog. Shie I knew many moons ago that it was time to steal away but I do not have this choice, and I admit to you that it has been humiliating to hobble about as one does who is past his due but is scared of seeing the Dog's eye in all of its fantastical colours. So this week I began not to eat, and I have not eaten for days, and I am lightheaded but feel that such is an honourable endurance in the face of things to come. It will be seen as honourable in the revealed eye. And all of my memories Shie will burn up in the colours of the eye and by transmitted for a full season on the winds for those with the gifted ear to listen to and recount at appropriate moments. All of my seasons, all of my moons, all of the loss and terror and joy will drift off like the pollen of the fields. And my body will join the mountain again, and flowers will grow on my back, and perhaps, if I'm considered worthy, a tree. I do not mean to be dramatic - you know I am sometimes capable of such a stance. I simply needed to speak to you this last time, and to tell you of the great joy your small barks gave to my heart. I will never see your pup, but she will be spirited, I am sure. Spirited with an appetite. As I said, usually we sneak off to embrace those radiant beams. I wanted to howl one more time for you. I wanted you to read and hear the echo of my call. I wanted you to know how cherished you are in my heart, and what an honour it was to know and call back and forth to you. Take care, my spirited friend! And feed your pup and also the man who eats a tremendous amount. I have always admired his energy. Live a long and happy life! And in all seasons, howl, Shie, howl! Your friend, Humphrey

Humphrey (2010-01-02): My dear Shie, Imagine my surprise when you arrived at our door a number of nights ago, flush with pups in your belly! It was early but I had a quick smell and I detected at least six Shie pups. Your mate was proud and ate much meat that night I noticed and this was a good sign for soon he will be hunting for many. His hair was lustrous and his chin high, another good sign, for with these things his pups will look up to him and understand when he bats them from his path. It was the same with my father as it is with Colin my master who I have returned to along with the two pups and Kim. Colin does not any longer swat me however which is a change and I have a sense it has to do with the strange thing he has begun to do in the mornings. He rises with the pups hanging off him and bathes the eldest who tends to splash and then dresses the eldest through much squirming and screaming like the cries of a goat in the paws of a mountain lion. And Colin whose power and dexterity are nothing short of a lion's is calm as a lion and never gets angry at the pup as a lion never gets angry at the goat - even though the pup is becoming stronger and now can run and jump and bark in a way that seems to make sense to his parents. However, I've lost the tracks as we say and will return to the strange practice of Colin's which is to provoke flame from a small thin rock of some sort and contain the flame in a yellow pit that he places on the wall. He then turns off the false suns and I can hear the pups and Kim below preparing their meals. They have been chased away but I am chosen to remain and I lie at his feet as he sits like a mountain, a peak rising high from the ground and two legs spread like the slopes at the paws of those great stone towers my ancestors knew but that I only dream of. And he sits without moving or making a sound and sometimes I watch him and feel that my dreams are true and there are such things in my life that contain the power my ancestors knew when they rested with their families at the paws of great mountains. And I must say that I am old now Shie, I'm an old dog, and perhaps this is why I wish my dreams to match my life, I feel these two worlds coming together at last, with all my formidable power and strengths draining from me, my haunches as thin as high mountain trees and my chest tender in spots, my teeth sore to chew and my fur less lustrous than before. These dreams are coming true and I see them as signs and I am content with the signs coming slowly. But this I'm afraid has begun to feel more like a death howl than a celebration of your pups and your coming family. From your smell I know the pups will come in the spring time, and will play in the flowers and warm air of that season. Please choose a name I consider appropriate with the lineage embedded, as we do. The pups should be able to name their ancestors by the time they make their first kills, if not before, for how will they thank the Great Dog properly if the names of their ancestors do not merge with the first fresh blood on their tongues? Please also generate a good deal of milk and the Great Dog will laugh and be joyous when he looks upon your pups. It was wonderful to see you Shie! My humblest regards and may the Great Dog smile upon you and yours! Your friend, Humphrey

Humphrey (2009-05-27): My Dear Friend Shie, Oh what a time it's been! Kim birthed another litter, again a rather dismal solitary pup, but no matter, it is not the number of pups but the amount of dog that counts, as we used to say. I must say Shie that this has been a peaceful time, as I decided to move to the den of the mother of Kim. Frankly, it is much more to my style...her den is carved from a cliff face that provides a view of the hill we are so found of and that sometimes I imagine to be my ancestral home only viewed from very far away (to account, you see, for the size difference). My mind is clear. My fur has its lustre back. My teeth are sharp. My tail is up. Shie! I have never been a good pack animal. I have always, truth be told, felt a stranger in the midst of too many. Surely with your strange concoctions of images from your head placed onto the walls of the dens of others you know the feeling of not liking people very much. I am of the same disposition Shie and I think this is why we speak so well together. I have just stolen over to Colin's house for a time, but the mother of Kim has taken the pups for a hunt and Kim is asleep, producing milk, and I am alone and finally able to speak freely. I like being alone Shie. I like to sleep and I like to exist as the sole heir of attention. I admit it! As you spend much of your time with the man who eats a tremendous amount, so much that even I Humphrey was impressed with the capacity of his stomach, thinking to myself, surely his belly will split, surely there will be no more room, and he will have to lie on the ground and doze and risk having mountain goats wake him liking the pieces of undigested meat from his jowls (they are known to do this) and this only in the first hour of his great eating. Even so, that he eats a tremendous amount cannot be the reason you are with him. It must be that he is very adoring of you and howls sometimes at the moon to impress you and romps around without furless so as to show the great girth of his belly. When I arrived at my new den I slept for three winks of the great dog's eye, I was so fatigued by being nipped, riden and teased by the pup. I eat now like a king. There is a finer breed of dog in these parts, I don't mind telling you. They can sense a well bred mountain dog, they know my lineage, my history. They speak, in effect, my language, Shie. It is pleasant here and I am pleased with myself and my surroundings. And yet when I see Colin, I think, yes, here you are, old friend, old master. And so soon I have to leave him. I feel his absence in the core of my bones, my dear friend. Oh if only the pups had not come! Oh Shie, I do hope to see you. Your small frame is always pleasant to lean upon. Take care my firen, I am too upset to tap out this letter to any further extent. May the great Dog bless you and your well spirited companion, may you not be strangers in your heart, may each of your hearts be the den of the other's howling. My best, Humphrey

Humphrey (2009-01-07): My dear friend Shie, It has been too many moons since we've last howled across the plain to one another and I must admit I've become old during this time. My hips are narrow, my feet unsteady, my coat less lustrous, my anxieties multiplied. I've developed an aversion to the great shock of light that comes from the unholy mechanisms humans hold in front of their faces at gatherings. I do not like clicks, bumps, whirrs, beeps or strange sounds of any kind that occur at random. I like to go outside but then feel alone and need to go back inside. Inside I feel the need for the wind in my hair, but outside the chill is uncomfortable. And Colin who seems not to age except for perhaps in a particular light the thinning of the once great forest on his lofty peak, Colin says, in or out, decide once and for all! But he can see that I am discontented in both states...I do not like gatherings and I do not like loneliness. I like to sleep, but often cannot, and so pace, which Kim is sensitive to. I lie down next to the bed and try so hard to stay lying down, as he and she command in the dark, lie down, I say, stay down, but then there is a click or a buzz, a beep or a whirr and I am up again pacing and panting. It is difficult for all of us. The wind is a terrible plague on my nerves, Shie. Do you ever get the sense that there are voices in the wind, calling you to your death? For me at my most vulnerable the wind is nothing more than a collection of howls from long ago and soon to be, past and future joined in some way to send me and me alone the notification of my imminent death: it is horrible, and even more horrible because I know my death is not imminent, I am still the dog I was once, able to prance, sprint, wrestle as I used to, even if for a short time. No, I'm far from death, but this is what makes me pace in the night. Being far from death, why does it plague me so? I have a feeling it has something to do with a dream I had that I had dug a hole in the dirt that Kim tends (this was a good dream because I am not usually allowed to dig even though I do so magnificently). I found a curled up wasp buried deep in the garden, and with the drool from my jaws I revived it and it began to live again. Soon I had more wasps visiting me and then further on I began to act as a hive does, being the body that all wasps in the area came to rest and depart from. And shie I do not know what wasps do and I do not know what hives do. I know my ancestors culled the goats from the cliffs so the mountains could flower and the Great Dog could be pleased. But in the dream I knew of no reason for the existence of wasps or myself the hive. What reason did they burrow in my fur and my ears, my eyes and mouth and why was I keeping them close to me? I woke with a yelp, and these wasps stayed with me for some time, and slowly they turned to all of my thoughts and memories and dreams, they all appeared to come and go using me only as a hive to rest in and depart from. And I began to wonder what I was without my thoughts and dreams and memories, and as soon as Colin and Kim and the pup, who is too immense to mention now without pain, had left I rushed to the computer and howled you this message across the plains, hoping you might have an answer to such torturous questions... It has been a long time since I've heard from you. I hope you are well. Many great holes should be dug in your honour my friend. Yours, Humphrey

Humphrey (2008-03-01): My dear friend Shie, Ah what a season! With each day comes new blessings. The snow has now reached the porch, as Colin has decided (wisely, I might add) to allow the snow to fall where it may, and not redistribute it by means of some large silver paw that now sits idle. After the first snows, you could not imagine the industry with which he tunneled through the snow. Hours of digging. Now, he seems content to squeeze through the gate that can only open a dog's width. But I bark across the snow-blessed expanse to inquire after your health. I worry about you in this season. Many a night when I'm basking in the blind eye's gaze, and my breath comes out in clouds so impressive and full, as if from the Great Dog's very mouth, I ponder the fact that you would not survive for two minutes in similar circumstance. And I wonder if it changes the spirit of humans, to know they are not fit for what the Great Dog has made, that they must, in effect, manufacture their existence, that they cannot simply live with striving as his chosen creations can do. You can imagine that the open end of the cave is my only place of rest, as the pup is now increasingly able to move about on four legs. Fast he is now, and stealthy, like a mountain cat. I am an old dog Shie, I enjoy my naps, but many of them are unpleasantly interrupted by the pup slapping my face or pulling my whiskers, biting my ears, or putting my paws in his mouth. Many times I've awoken from dreams thinking that a herd of goats has mistaken my coat for pasture, only to wake to the pup crawling atop me. And what can I do? All I can do is look at Colin beseachingly, and very often he says, "good, patient dog," which is, I admit, a consolation, but I have seen a new glint in his eyes, and in that glint is the reflection of my undoing if I were ever to so much as give the pup a helpful snip on his backside, as all pups warrant from time to time. He has changed Shie into a man who would kill. Of course, this only enhances his already noble bearing, his kingly aura. But still, I have stayed close to him, expressing my devotion in all aspects of our daily life. Whenever I get him alone I am generous with my attention, almost too much, as he invariably says, "what's with you, settle down." I only wish to say I love you master. And when he is with the pup and Kim, I stay at a respectful distance. The pup to his great credit understands my plight and feeds me all types of delicious foods. Pray tell, Shie, have you ever heard of cheerios? Kim hunts for them regularly, and, truly, they can make an old dog's day when fed to him by a young pup, who, despite all things, I love deeply. I hope this finds you well, my friend. Come to see all of us soon, perhaps when the mountains of snow do not frighten you as much, and the climate is more temperate, and easier to manage for your two small legs. Your greatest admirer, Humphrey

Shie (2008-01-01): A happy new year, Humphrey! A glass of champaign for the new year's toast (well, to be articulate, cheap sparking wine kind) made me sick and I was finally able to get up in the late, late afternoon, spending most of the day dreaming and missing the new year's rituals, such as taking a morning bath. It is like a good luck charm I grew up with, to start a new year "fresh and clean". Well, for today, I'm too late to take one now, without the natural light in the bathroom it wouldn't be quite the same. I'm just hoping that there is any way to gain back the luck somehow. It snowed like crazy and everything is covered white beautifully. I imagine you rolling over the ground while scratching your back, and covered with snow... All the best to you in 2008! Yours, Shie

Humphrey (2007-12-17): My dear friend Shie, Many times in the past days have I laughed at the idea of you walking through this great blessing of a storm! You would be buried like so many of those hard and foul smelling beasts that the Great Dog has seen fit to humiliate: where are your round and tremendously fast legs now, he might as well say to them, although I would never claim to know His thoughts. Yes, I have laughed but I have also worried. It seems to me that this would be difficult for you. I know you are a human of fine spirit, but perhaps you are also skulled like a goat, if I may use an old saying. Do not undertake a long hunt on some foolhardy attempt to prove something. There is no need to impress me. I'm sure there are difficult situations where you are from that I would consider uncomfortable as well. For instance, baths. I would not take a bath to impress you, my dear friend, so please don't go roll in the blessing, lest it become a curse, if you see what I mean. But all this to say that I have been thinking of you, and hoping that this fine weather has brought you close to your mate, who appears sometimes like he might not even notice the storm around his head. Do not let him wander far! My best to you on this most fine night, Your friend, Humphrey

Humphrey (2007-11-25): My gracious friend Shie, It had been a number of blinks of the Great Dog's blind eye since we've seen each other. Last night you and your mate arrived with strange smelling dishes of food that were not to my liking. But your presence made but for your gifts, and it was a pleasure to see that you are turning your attention to food in your scratchings. Some of your scratching were quite realistic, I would say, and made me hungry. Next time please bring over these objects rather than the food you chose to contribute last night. But this is besides the point. The question is why we have not howled back and forth across the city for such a long time. The first reason is of a technical nature: In the new cave, Colin ends each night by pressing into a small beeping face on the wall of the cave, the same pattern of beeps each time. Then for a number of dog's breaths the whole house is filled with a beeping that then goes silent. He then locks the door of his section of the cave. Perhaps it is his way of saying to the pup, time to go to sleep, but i admit that the pup is already asleep so this makes no sense. I apologize, I've lost my train of thought. The point is that he locks the door to his section of the cave and so I cannot sneak in and write you messages in the dark of the night. It is simply impossible! Second is that the pup, although just recently mobile (I am very worried about him, it has taken 8 or 9 moons for him to walk. In that same time, I would have had my first kill, if I had, you understand, been born in the mountains), as I said, just recently mobile, he is a constant nuisance. He climbs atop me as if I were a mountain. Although I feel it is my duty to show him what's what around the cave, I frequently grow tired in face of his youthful enthusiasm. I am an old dog, Shie, an old dog who only wants to rest, to eat well, and perhaps to engage in a blood fight once and a while. Each time I lay my head down however, I can hear his approach across the floor. I move, he follows, I move again, you can understand how this can affect one's nerves, and so frankly, there had been neither the opportunity nor the energy to howl across the mountain to you. Perhaps this man you speak of who lived many moons never had to deal with a pup. But look at me Shie, licking again my own testicles, I have not asked how the Great Dog has smiled upon you. I myself have been happy with the new cave. I have a high status at the Gathering of Strange Dogs and Humans, wherein I've participated in a few fights, of which, even coming into my tenth winter, I have proved valiant and worthy of the respect now afforded me. The only drawback is that all the dogs afford me a sort of royal distance, and so the Gathering for me is always a lonely time. At yet when a new dog approaches, my hackles rise, and I attack with ferocity, big dog or small, and then I am alone again. In short, I cannot help myself. As you saw, it has been a joyous time in the cave, for Calle, the bitch I've spoken about before, has come to stay for a while, and her presence makes the sun a little brighter, the Great Dog's fur a little colder. In short, she makes the Dog's creation more perfect, if that can be. I hope your mate does that for you Shie. He smells better than he used to, I admit. It is a great blessing, and I will submit that instead of eating fish bones and carrying other dogs around on oneself, a dog and a human should find another that as I said improves on the already perfect creation of the Great Dog, if that, I humbly repeat, is at all possible. My friend Shie, they return from their walk! May the Great Dog's cold breath bring you closer to your mate, blind and open eye together in these long and beautiful nights that are now upon us. Yours, Humphrey

Shie (2007-06-29): Dear Humphrey The beginning of this month, there was the St-Viateur street festival. I almost called you so that we could meet up since you lived very close from it. Then, I realized that it was your big moving day. Now, the month is ending soon. How are you liking your new house? well, you call it a "cave"? It sounds like a fun place! You can grow some flowers and have a BBQ in your garden. Very soon Nathaniel will start running freely outside of the cave. The pig tail passage going one level to the other seems very exciting and is something I would definitely love to experience one day. It is good for you too, you know, for your daily exercise, and to stimulate your forgotten but real "mountain dog" gene. This famous Japanese man(Keizo Miura) who was over 100 years old, he still spent half a year in the mountains skiing. His philosophy of being healthy is in order to be able to do what you love to do. Some of his tricks being well and healthy were drinking green tea, but he would grind the leaves and drink the whole thing, cooking fish with a pressure cooker and eat the bone and everything, and he would go for a walk everyday with weights on his legs. There are a lot more tricks, but I will need to study his books. Anyway, I hope you are doing well in this hot weather, maybe you got a bit of hair cut by chance? We'll see each other soon, XX

Humphrey (2007-06-12): My dear friend Shie, The pack has found another cave, it seems a seasonal ritual to move and this season is no different. Our new cave has two levels with small fields of grass on either end. To Colin's dismay, I have already dug a hole in the tail end of the cave, for we believe that upon finding new ground, it is best to bury the spirit of the old ground within it - so I dug my hole and said goodbye to the high view of the Great Dog's domain, the steep mountain that pulled the strength from my legs each day, and also the memory of the pup, first arrived, wrapped and blind and sqwaling. Now the pup is large and yapping but I have difficulty in understanding him, and I suspect he has no idea what he's saying. Colin and the pup carry on a conversation but it is lost to me, and i believe now that Colin is lost to me as well, for his strong hands and kind eyes rarely rest on my flank these days. He lifts the pup in the air so that it squeals, and presses his lips against its belly and blows, and carries the pup everywhere. I'm not surprised that the pup can't move on his own force, my God I was something at that age, and now I am something else, Shie. I don't mind telling you that I have a difficult time walking now, and although there is an open field where other dogs bring their masters, I have little time for running and jumping. i caught myself saying to a young one that I used to run like the wind, but he looked at me as if he couldn't quite believe it. Oh Shie, I felt a fool. So determined I was to keep my youth that I did something even more foolish. There was a dog with a huge jaw and cold eyes whose master didn't let him run free. I made my way to where they were and lifted my leg in front of his face, marked his territory, and then stood my ground as he went at me. Of course his master held him back, but the knowledge of this, I believed, did nothing to lessen the honour of my feat. I heard Colin's bark and when I returned, he said, "are you crazy, what are you doing?" "I don't know, I don't know," I said. Oh, I had become an old fool, and I set off the other way, but after a time, I felt that there might be something to my provocation of the black dog, because my heart was thumping with powerful beats, and my legs, driven by fear or courage, I'm not sure, suddenly felt many moons younger. I approached the dog again, but Colin was wise to me, and called me back, and soon after, the master dragged the large dog away, who had some unsavoury things to say to me on the way by that I won't repeat here, of course. On a more peaceful note, I have taken the tail end of the cave as my own and I lie out in the shadows of the cave all day. It is pleasant, Shie, and I hope you will come over soon and join me out there for a bit of peace. A thing that I find strange in the cave is the way in which we all move from level to level, as if we were walking up a wild pig's tail. The difficulty is that each step gives the impression that in the next step one will walk off the cliff. And yet, by following the steps, one walks in circles and ends up on the second level. I cannot fathom how this happens, but I find that when I don't think of it, and just take step after step, the Great Dog brings, me to safety. When I think too much, Colin has to tap me on my haunches to get me started, for to my shame, a mountain dog, used to such extremes (not through experience, you understand, but in the bones, as they say) gets paralysed mid-climb - all around me is open air, a precipitous fall below. I imagine you will have trouble too Shie, being so small - you might fear a gust of wind might sweep you off to the floor below, although this might be somewhat dramatic of me, because as I said before, this pig's tail is inside the cave, and there is very little wind. I'm sure you will be fine. So these are the new things I have had to adjust to, but you know what everyone says, "Old dogs learn like young pups," and "A new cave is a new life." My best Shie, and beware, the Great Dog's blind eye is nearly closed. Your friend, Humphrey

Humphrey (2007-05-02): My dear friend Shie, Please to not cry on my behalf. I feel more dog than ever before. A dog without a purpose is not a dog. The pup is growing quite fast now and is beginning to make sounds that resemble barks. Colin has begun to howl with him, but I have not yet joined in. Colin is mighty in his own regard but his howls are pitiful, and I worry he'll become sore that I've upstaged him. Still, it has been many moons since I've had a good howl. The moon's light for the past few nights has come right into our cave. I can watch the pup through the bars of its bed when Colin and Kim are sleeping. This is the glow of the dog's blind eye, a sign of good fortune. I admit, though, Shie, that with my assumption of responsibility and work, I have come to recognize in myself a degree of uncertainty about all of the stories of the Great Dog. This is not to say I don't believe the Dog exists. I have heard such talk, and find it ridiculous, and frankly, arrogant. Perhaps even small minded. I feel though that if we were to look up into the Great Dog's lair, the sky, and see the clouds travelling by, and focus on the clouds alone, we would be missing something of his majesty. To say the stories are true or untrue is just so much licking testicles. The possibility that they are true is enough for me, and as a simple dog, if from a noble lineage, I cannot pass judgment. However, and here I get to the point, as Kim frequently says to Colin, if we were to say that the clouds were like our stories (our superstitious, I know one yappy bitch down the block, would say), then to focus too much on the clouds, to guide our entire lives by the clouds, would amount to a day-to-day existence without ever understanding the unity of the cloud's container, the sky. To believe or not believe in the Great Dog is as silly as saying the clouds do exist, the clouds do not exist. Who knows, but their appearance has been cause for a tremendous amount of strife. The clouds, all we know of them, appear, and that is all we can say for sure. To say there are no clouds is as ridiculous as saying the clouds are the only thing that is important in the sky. A true spiritual journey begins when one understands that the clouds are part of the sky, but that the sky is greater, greater than our thoughts and emotions, greater than ourselves. Now some would say without the clouds there is nothing, and I believe it might feel like that to some people. The emptiness of the sky without clouds worries many dogs. But emptiness to me is also limitlessness. So when I acknowledge that I am growing old, do not pity me. I'm only preparing for my redistribution into the limitless of the Great Dog that is not really a dog but a limitless everything, and in death I will be just as much a part of Him as I am now, balancing on my forelegs, patiently tapping out this message to you. Strange how hard work can be of such use, can change the very representation of the firmament! We dogs, for many generations, have been cast in the role of counselors, supporters, entertainers, but in truth we are industrious, and it feels like I am growing to a new understanding, and also returning to a familiar state, even though I have never before felt like this. Shie, I feel as if my bones were suddenly howling with ancient songs. Now off to the pup, who is rising from his revelations, and has begun to squawk (somewhat like a bird, I'm forced to admit) for his mother's teets. Good day, and enjoy the limitless blossoming that is happening around you and your mate. The blessings of the Great Dog be upon you, Humphrey

Shie (2007-04-14): Dear Humphrey, I am crying as I read your letter. I hear many times on TV and newspapers that your kind brings miracles saving human's lives or detecting early diseases which are not detectable even with supposed- to-be highly sophisticated means. You brought the miracle, which you might just think it was a natural habit for a dog like you, having ancestors of hard working and herding livestock. It's probably built into your gene to protect and guard whoever you care very much. We all know that human babies are too vulnerable, and they are not like other babies who can stand up by themselves soon after their birth, but who knew that the most? Humphrey, you're amazing and I am so proud of you. I am also impressed to know that you've communicated well and how quickly Kim took that as an urgent sign, but not the usual need-to-go-outside. I wonder if it is something to do with mother's instinct and sensitivity which are hard to understand for others. Or maybe her being your raising mother, she just understands you well? She was telling me how you've changed since the baby came home; first, you ignored his existence for a while and acted as if he wasn't there, (I thought it was unlikely of you) then soon later, you never left him alone and have been very protective. I guess I am just curious about the transition, what was in your mind during the denial of the newborn and how you got to realize that he needed your attention. You are a full of mysteries, Humphrey. You concern your health these days? Don't be worried, it is just this never-ending winter, the harsh weather like this makes everybody depressed a bit and overly worried for nothing. I feel the same too, my joints hurt more, my feet are always cold, and my shoulders are hard like rock. I'm finding more dark spots on my face and so I recently spent a lot more money on my cosmetics! I know you're thinking that's silly. I also know that spending more does not guarantee anything. But you know there are some moments of despair and having some hope helps... It is already mid April yet it is not at all ready for a picnic under cherry blossoms trees (which is often enjoyed by the majority where I originally come from. For them to see this wet snow covering the whole city must appear surreal). Let's hope that the winter will leave us soon. Take care. Yours, Shie

Humphrey (2007-04-14): My dear friend Shie, I am writing in the pause that comes with the young pup's visit to the Bitch's world, where each dog sees himself, but changed. Fortunately, Colin and Kim have joined him and so I have been able to say hello. The Great Dog fooled me this week, what a pleasure it was the final great snow! But this morning as we walked between the cliff-cave dwellings, Colin and I could not find a spot on snow deep enough to bury my droppings. Each year I become so accustomed to the infinite bed for my droppings that when the Great Dog pants and his saliva reveals the buried ground, I am at a loss as where to go. "Hurry up!" Colin has said a number of times. But he shouldn't speak: his droppings always find themselves in a container of what appears to be hardened snow, although it is not cold and it does not smell like snow. How would he feel if three or four moons of the year, this container suddenly melted into the floor? Wouldn't he become somewhat anxious? I'm licking my testicles, as we say, Shie, and so forgetting the important event that I have been waiting for ten suns to tell you of. Colin had gone off to hunt, and the pup was sleeping. The burning eye of the great Dog had closed, his blind one was opening. Kim was in the other room, tapping on these keys. I was in the dark room with the pup when I noticed that his breathing was not right. I listened carefully, head up from my bed, and then ran out to the hallway. Colin and Kim and i have a simple language with which we communicate. Stamping my feet means I need to drop my droppings (perhaps this is why I was speaking of my droppings so incessantly before). I usually do a one-two-three with my forelegs, and then crouch, and then spring up, as if to vault them from their seats. The pup not breathing well, I ran into the hallway and I one-two-threed. In most cases, my first attempts are ignored. "Do you need to go out?" Colin will stupidly ask (the Great Dog forgive me). "Yes. Yes. I say, the rivers of the mountains are pressing on my bone." And I do it again. Anyway, Kim did not see this but only heard my one-two-three, her back was to me, but she jumped up all the same, ran into the bedroom, grabbed the child and rushed him into the light. Here was the child, colour somewhat grey, and now vomiting a terrible amount onto his chest, as if he had been choking on the Bitch's Revelations. For some time, Kim cleaned him up, and then I suppose they both realized that the pup might have heard the call, and the pup began to wail (he wails like no other pup I've heard, suddenly I'm understanding of why my mother used to nip me) and the surprising thing was that now Kim began to wail, even though the pups colour had returned and everyone was safe. Only a few minutes later Colin arrived to a scene with Kim crying and the baby content, suckling. I took an appropriate distance, but after acts of consolation unique to humans - I'm sure you yourself have sometimes entered into these grapplings with the forelegs - Colin turned to me, and said, "You warned her." And before I knew it he was grappling me, his strong arms around my neck, speaking to me saying "rescue dog" and "special dog". Colin did not cry. Rather, I think that he refused to imagine what would have been if I hadn't been there. I myself would rather not think of it, and yet, as Colin said, "the boy is under a lucky star, to have two such beings protecting him." Since then, he has drawn me into his arms more than once, spoken to me in such kind tones, even when no one else is around. He holds the child and leaning down lets me sniff the top of its head. And yet, the strangest of things has happened, Shie. For I am finally beginning to feel my age. I have trouble with the climb up to our cave. Sometimes, Colin has to gently tug at me to get me started. When I rise from the Bitch's Sleep, I no longer race away. I need a few stiff steps. The winter is gone Shie, but the ice seems reluctant to leave my four legs. I am becoming an old dog. There is no doubt now. Perhaps the pup has shown me this, as after a long winter the first look in the clear lake is always a surprise. I am melancholy, as you can see, but surprisingly content about my place. Perhaps the Great Dog spared my youth, my ears and my legs, in order for me to be able to alert Kim to the pup in distress, and now that I've done this, I no longer need to be as youthful as before. But I am not dead yet, my friend, and since the incident, I have taken to lying by the child each time he goes down. I used to lie at Colin's feet for my own purposes, now I lie at his son's feet for a greater purpose. The Great Dog has shown me this way, and I intend to follow it until, perhaps, the Great Dog decides that the pup is safe. My love to you, Shie, and all of your loved ones, Humphrey

Humphrey (2007-03-22): My good friend Shie, My frame is slim, my fur lustrous. Many believe me to still be a pup's age, not for my demeanor of course, but for my good health and vibrant aura. Who needs a sun when Humphrey is in the city? Yet I see the anticipation in both Kim and Colin. They share your need for heat. I on the other hand rue the fading nights. The Great Dog is shedding his snow. Soon with heat, he will pant, with each loll of the tongue a thousand rain drops come down. When we see the first flash of his teeth, the rolling growl of his throat, summer will be here. I am treating the pup well, even though for some reason he can't yet walk. If Kim continues to supply him the teet without any work on his part, how will he learn to hunt? Hunt? How will he learn to walk, to run, to sniff? He makes strange sounds, awake and asleep. Most alarming is that he remains completely without fur. Will an artist ever come up to Nathaniel and say, I have been trying to capture you, but you are uncapturable? No! His frame is not buried in darkness and light. He is not a mystery. And yet, I am still fond of him. Perhaps you can practice on Nathaniel and once you become better, you can try me again. But who wants to paint a being the equivalent of a mouth with five senses? Does he know anything more than the teet? Does any human? Considering Colin's behaviour, I would say not. I hope to see you soon, Shie, so we can speak of this. Perhaps I will allow a brief study of my better side. Blessings of the Great Dog be upon you my friend, Humphrey

shie Kasai (2007-03-20): Dear Humphrey, Finally we are getting some more sun these days. I can walk through the mountain to come home after work. I am so glad how sunny still it is. In my apartment, I can sit by the window and see the sun slowly moving lower while typing a letter to you. Well, in fact I sit my back facing to the sun so that my back gets the last bit of sun heat, as it is still chilly. Tomorrow begins the spring. Although you have not heard from me for a while, I have been thinking of you a lot lately. Actually I have been trying to draw pictures of you, Humphrey. It's been quite difficult, to be honest. I think it is because of your fluffy and decorative hair. I know, I know, this is your charm and that's something you proud of the most! For my point of view, it hides your body structure and I can never tell if you are fat or skinny. Anyway, I definitely think you are a really good looking dog. I just need to practice drawing your hair more. The sun is starting to hide behind a building. I have to go now, Dac is preparing the supper and it is almost ready. See you soon, Yours, Shie

Humphrey (2007-02-05): My dear friend Shie, Thank you for your extended howl. It was wonderful to hear from you. I can only imagine your difficulties with the Great Dog's white coat - although for me it is better than a blanket, even the mighty Colin has to wrap himself in a number of multi-coloured coats in order to survive our adventures. We have taken to walking along the white rivers in between the rows of caves and in the past few days I've found myself with an appetite for the frozen droppings of other dogs. This Colin finds disgusting and he chases me from these treats. "You never used to eat shit before," he says. "Why now?" It is an interesting question, Shie. Why was I eating the droppings of dogs, after so long passing them by. As you know, Kim brought a single pup home and he has been living with us for half a moon's wink. He is hairless and frequently covered in his own feces. He constantly demands the teet. When I was a pup, my mother would clean our den by eating our small droppings. As I ran away from Colin one time, another dog's droppings in my mouth, I considered that this might be a repetition of what my mother once did for me. Colin and Kim clean up the feces of the young pup (to my knowledge, they do not eat it) so I am left with this ancient desire and yet no droppings with which to satisfy its hunger. This was a turning point, Shie, for up until then, I admit to feeling somewhat jealous of the young one. Petting as an activity was reduced to the perfunctory. It became clear this pup was not a brother but my successor. Then, with this dropping business, after my epiphany, I looked upon him with wiser eyes. Shie, I dare say that sometimes he attempts to bark hello to me, and although he can't see me yet, when if rub my nose on his bald crown, he pauses from his cooings enough to greet me. Now this morning, Colin called me into the office. "Come lie at my feet Humphrey," he said, "as I tap out my genius." Well, Shie, I have always been one to warm his feet, but I felt there was a more important thing to do, for the pup in its little bed was mewing in some distress, and I didn't feel right to be in another room. So I came and lay down beside him, and fell asleep. "Are you in here?" Colin said, later. I could only raise my head and look at the pup, and he seemed to understand. I thought he would be jealous, but he seems pleased. He knows I can fight with courage. How small the pup looks in his great hands, and how wonderful it feels when he calls me over and says, "Who's this?" Well, Shie, he plays a game. Sometimes he is a fool. He knows full well that I am Humphrey, mother and father in one. Eater of droppings, fierce defender of pup. I will teach him everything I know - how to howl, how to lift one's leg, how to scrap, and most importantly, how to clean his genitals with his own tongue. Now I was interested in your letter, Shie, and it saddened me to hear of such a pathetic event, when the dog you encountered could only compulsively fetch and return your ball. Mankind has given us this terrible affliction. They have bred it into our genes. Does the Great Dog chase after shooting stars! Heavens no! Oh if only you humans knew how terrible it was to want to do something and so despise it as well. Can this pup return my forgotten self? No, but perhaps I have become the mother and father I remember, and so I return, yes, but in a different form. Instead of child, I am parent. Instead of leaving droppings anywhere, I now have them in my mouth. Keep strong in these days of the white coat. There is an old saying that roughly translates into, "The whiter the coat, the healthier the pups, the stronger the pack." Enjoy this good winter, my friend, and write again soon! Humbly, Your friend, Humphrey

Shie Kasai (2007-01-28): Dear Humphrey It's great to hear from you and I apologize for my slow response. I feel like I'm hibernating. It's been really cold these days. Every morning, getting out of bed is a struggle as it is perfectly warm, comfortable, and my feet are dry. I dream of staying snuggled with my man forever; besides, it is too cold outside of bed in my typically plateau apartment, over 100 years old. This place is not very energy efficient. When I leave outside, I put too many layers of clothes and pants that restrain my body movement. I can not bend my arms completely. I open the front door and breath in the frozen air from my nose which wakes me up all too well. Going down the slippery stairs while holding the bar tight, I think of if I should try catching a bus or just walk all the way to work. My watch says I have roughly 8 minutes which means that I have to run like a moron to the bus stop. And if I miss it, there will not be another bus for at least 20 minutes. As I know I am late for work again, I decide to walk through the mountain. The sun is very bright on my eyes but I must hurry, there is no time to pause and take my sunglasses out from my backpack. I might freeze if I stop moving. The air is very fresh and calm. There are always dogs in the mountain. I simply enjoy passing them by with a silent hello. Once in a while, I encounter some friendly kinds of dogs. One morning, this most friendly one ran up to me with his tennis ball in his mouth, stopped, and dropped the ball in front of me. He was like the dog who won the final prize in the movie called "Best in Show", a norwich terrier. To respond to his playful gesture, I picked it up and threw it away. The tennis ball was very used, wet and gross. He chased his toy, picked it up and dropped it in front of me again. He would repeat this again and again. We played this game about ten times until his owner, an older gentle lady, finally caught up with him. She thanked me as and they continued in the opposite direction. That was a good start of a day. Oh, Humphrey, the other morning, I saw a younger version of you. He must have been less than 7 months old. His four legs looked way too thick for the body. His hair was still shorter and really fluffy looking. I imagine you were once like that. I wonder if you ever remember when being small. Do you ever look at old baby photos of yourself? Maybe the new baby can bring you back your forgotten self. Are you excited? happy? Dac and I will visit you guys once you are settled, keep warm! Yours, Shie

Humphrey (2007-01-22): My long lost friend Shie, How many moon winks has it been? I think of you often. I know you have been seeing Kim and Colin because sometimes I smell you and your mate on their legs. Your smell last week reminded me of our correspondence - for days I've been trying to get a free moment. Colin has taken to shutting off his box of description when he leaves. We also went out to the mountains for the past four days with my friend Cal-leh, a sprightly young bitch with whom I sometimes tussle. She's the only one who doesn't listen to my sincere growls when I have a stick in my mouth. The hubris, Shie. All the sticks in the forest and she grabs onto mine. Then we are forced to do a ridiculous dance along the path, like two tame horses down a street - she infuriates me, I say so, and yet she won't let go. When I lie down, she lies down next to me. When I get up, she follows. She has the hunger of a she-bear. She eats her food in one gulp and would eat mine too if I didn't watch over it. Shie, I am a slow eater - I like to enjoy a meal, perhaps go and speak to Colin for a break. She forces me to eat like some pack animal, nose deep in the guts of a goat. She's too silly. She's too playful. she's too enthusiastic. And yet, Shie, home now in our high cave, Cah-lee gone, I feel somewhat melancholy. There's isn't a question that I find her trying, you understand, but I have to admit that in my glummest moments, she knows to be quiet and let me be. She is full of tricks: she must know her absence is felt, and however glum I am, the feeling of her absence immediately begs the question, why be glum when I can be with her? For a mountain dog, this kind of thinking is hardly something to howl across the valley. I find her then, and she acts as if there were no glum mood, and this allows me to forget it myself. I am especially glum today because we have left one another's side, but also because it is evident that Kim is getting ready to deliver her pups. Her teats are large and her belly is swollen. She moves with a certain purpose, somewhat like an avalanche, but one that's been going on for about two moons now. But the birthing is near...I know you're around because, as I said, I can smell you. Please write back. I am lonesome. In the mountains, with Cal-leh, I would enrage Colin by standing outside and giving a friendly hello to all of the dogs around the valley. In ancient dog, which I was happy to see many of the dogs spoke, with some shall we say imperfections, the greetings are long and detailed, recounting lineage, acts of bravery and physical bearing. this is all formal and boring but necessary, especially on first greeting, and yet I really never got half way through anything first because Cal-leh kept on tempting me with sticks and second because Colin would continue to interrupt by either rapping one of the glass holes and giving me a good stare down from behind it or coming out and calling me in his deepest voice, which of course I would have to obey. "What the hell are you barking at?" he'd say, "You couldn't understand, you will never understand!" I thought. Of course I couldn't say that, Shie, but upon being let out an hour later, I would continue where I left off. I'm not one of those pedants that has to start at the beginning again (there is a dog of questionable heritage two caves down that goes on each morning about his royal line in an anxious tone that protests more than I'm sure he would like it to) - as I said, I don't start again each time like the fool I just mentioned but my lineage is strong and my feats are, well, too numerous to mention here, so even my shortened version takes a while. Colin frequently becomes enraged - perhaps his heritage is questionable and it is a sore spot for him: but even so, even if this were the case, do not judge him shie, for he is tall and his hands are strong for their size. He has a stooped posture that belies a wise bearing, if not an alpha bone structure. I shouldn't even be saying these things, I'm only enraged because he must in every season let run the dogs of his loins and now what have we got but pups. I apologize, Shie. As I said I'm quite melancholy. And so, my initial point and the one I'll end on is that writing to you in this box is quite a bit like calling out across the mountains and not hearing any howl back. I don't like to think of myself as one of those dogs that goes on. Please respond, perhaps with some welcoming news about your present state of joy in the world. Rub behind the ears the man you live with. I guess he is eating meat now. Have his droppings become stronger in smell? My best to you, I must go, Your friend, Humphrey

Humphrey (2006-09-25): My wonderous friend Shie, How much you joke! I am long past pup-hood! Stack ten pups atop one another and they would not reach my snout. Why Shie, if I were to stand on my hinds my paws could easily rest upon your shoulders and we could look at one another, eye to eye. But yes, the pup is coming. Many times I've sniffed Kim's round belly and I'm afraid to say it will be male. This, as you can imagine, is disastrous news. For at first the pup will be blind, its teeth will be small, and its only desire will be for the teets of its mother. But soon, shie, soon enough it will grow. It will learn to bark and then to bite. I'm not a young dog. My looks are deceitful. I get tired, and I'll admit to having not much time for these wonderous creations. They inspire too much delight for my stomach. In my old age the young dog will take pleasure in pulling my tail and hanging onto my jowls. I won't have any peace. Surely, I'll be loved, but at what physical cost? I have seen venerable dogs taken out by these man-pups in no more than a few moons. They are a good dog's blight Shie. I've decided not to eat these past few mornings. Colin hunts for a different sort of food for me now, and neither my tongue nor my guts have taken a liking to this new breed of food. "Eat your food," he says, and however much I wish to please him, a sniff of the stuff revolts me, or perhaps only leaves me unmoved. How I used to gobble! I would take the food from my bowl, and in my mouth hold it until I had found a safe place, and then relish in its devouring alone, in silence, as my ancestors would on the mountains. Now I can only look at him until he takes pity on me, and lets me lie by him as he pecks away on this computer. What is life worth if it is a life that will be replaced! I feel as the moon, once bright and round, full of light, and now forever waning, waning to a sliver of myself. A new moon risng Shie, a new face in the sky. Deep in the winter months, when all is quiet, when the snow makes the world shine, we'll have a new pup in the house. I hope that will not always be so melancholy about this event. Surely, Colin and I will become closer, as Kim deals with the pup. We will perhaps go hunting on our own, leaving mother and pup behind to do what it is they must do. Of wonderous event, to be on the hunt with the alpha, to be chosen for such a role! I'm so glad I was able to exchange a number of barks with you Shie. Rather than the death of a moon, this might be for me a new dawn! Even now, looking out the glass hole and walking along the hard paths between the cliffs, red and orange leaves are all around me; the trees' eyes are starting to shut. The snow is not in the air, but soon, Shie, soon, and what can one pup do to put a blight on such a magnificent event as the first snow, the first roll, the first dig of the winter yet to come! His mighty steps on the stairs, I must run! My best, Humphrey

Shie (2006-08-14): oh my god, Humphrey, what great news! As you know, my days are not too exciting, rather, faced with deadlines at my day job, in a wrong season, makes me busy. Today for example, I sat all day drawing in my half-basement office, missing some sun light. The room has been so damp, I'd feel the wet hard-to-breathe-air and my arm would stick to the table. My boss finally felt sorry for me and brought in her old dehumidifier. It works good. By the end of day, the tank is full and I, or my coworkers, have to carefully carry it to the kitchen and dump it, or water the plant with that collected water. Hearing from you made my day, and the special news! what a surprise. Well, I hope you are ready for not being the only baby in the family!

Humphrey (2006-08-14): My friend Shie! It has been a long time since we exchanged pleasantries and sniffs. I do not know how your season of long days and shorts nights has been going. I have large and incredible news. I will no longer be bottom dog in the pack, as Kim is full with pups. For months I suspected, something in her smell was different, but now I am certain, and I couldn't be more pleased. Already her belly is taught and growing and each time I sniff for the pups I thank the Great Dog for such a blessing. Finally pups I can playfully nip and roll on their backs, show them the wonders of such a world. Of course, i will have to be careful that Kim does not take offence, and attack, fangs exposed. I will avoid the place in which she will lie down and let them tug at her teets. She will set up a den and even the mighty Colin will have to watch himself, as it is said that bitches are given the strength of the great Dog's first offspring, the raging rivers and great white mountains, to be able to protect their pups, and I cannot wait to witness this, as I hear from others it is a sight to behold. I will watch, then, from a distance, as blind and pure they reach and suckle and sleep under her watchful eyes. Surely Colin is proud of his efforts, and these I know will be mighty pups, as I'm sure I've mentioned he has immense strength and a fine noble character. He has made me nervous in these past days for he has taken to moving large things around the den, bracing them against his body and hoisting them in his first legs, oh what a sight it is. Then Kim walks in and in a series of soft barks convinces him to hoist the same thing back to where he has just lifted it, and then after another visit, hoist the same thing back again. Sometimes he stands with these large things in his first legs for what seems an eternity in the centre of the room as Kim looks back and forth to make a decision. I try to help by offering my back against his legs but he kicks me away. He has moved the rooms around, all, I suppose, in preparation for the pups. I'll admit Shie, to a certain anxiety over their arrival. Last night, just before dawn, I woke up Colin because of my pacing, but he soothed me, and soon I fell asleep. During this week, I have found myself frightened by the place where they prepare food, and have lost my appetite. At night, the wind tells me terrible things, that one of these pups will come to rule me, and it will be dominant, even as it is still slick from Kim's belly. Of course, this doesn't make sense, the world will have gone mad, but still the words haunt me. No, I'm not being perfectly honest: The wind says there will only be one, again, highly doubtful. Why must it torment me like this? For there is an old story that says that a bitch will one day give birth to just one pup, a first sign from the Great Dog that again he will soon walk the earth. Perhaps I will be able to tell this story, record the life of this pup so that others may know of the greatness. I cannot imagine such a thing, but again, the air of the whole world smells differently, and the trees, I don't mind telling you, are in a panic. The world seems on the brink of chaos and into this chaos only one pup will be born. Is it understandable now that I am losing my dreams, pacing the night away? And yet, Colin and Kim are very happy, and most days i see Colin growl into the star of Kim's belly. I have never seen anything like this, but it fills Kim with delight, and I suppose I'll admit to being soothed by the sight as well. For they are together, we are together, even in such uneasy times, and as an old saying goes, "As long as the night hears one dog call to the moon, the sun will light the world another day." My blessings Shie, in this uneasy but blessed time. Your friend, Humphrey

Humphrey (2006-07-12): My noble friend Shie, Thank you for your series of silent barks! The old dogs believe grass cleanses the body and the spirit. Your concern is normal. Colin and Kim share it, of course, because they have an obsession with my droppings, which they, for a reason I can't fathom, use old hunting bags to wrap up and throw into a raised hole that smells of all the dogs in the neighbourhood. Perhaps it is a ceremony, using hunting bags for the start and end of the cycle, but to what end, except basic superstiton, I can't fathom. Most times I try to cover it before they can pick it up with powerful kicks with my hind legs, although I admit Shie, my aim is not what it used to be, I'm out of practice, so they have never had any trouble locating my droppings. Don't dig up the grass, they say, and ruin our neighbours' lawns. Grass, I reply, has a sub-surface root structure, as anyone with a snout will tell you, and so will grow back, but they either ignore me, or fail to comprehend. I have no trouble comprehending the hunt. That you leave your cave each day and work long hours to find your food, I understand. You are a small human shie, I have tested you by leaning on you and I tend to push you back, even with minimal effort, and the humans in the room always exchange laughter. Your friend Dac however is stronger, and would hunt well, but since I smell no evidence on him of meat or entrails, I can only imagine you are foraging type humans, which of course would take more time, and give you less time to write messages to your friends. The humans I can't understand are Kim and Colin, who seem to lounge all day in the cave and then come back after the blink of dog's eye with sacks full of sweet smelling quarry. Colin takes many naps in the day, always barking out, wake me in fifteen, and perhaps that is why he hunts so efficiently. Not that I'm complaining. I'm happy to lie below him and fall into other worlds to the sound of his mighty snores. Shie, I apologize, you contact me and I spend most of my response licking my privates, as we dogs say. I hope you will send another message in answer to these questions - when you hunt, as you are small, how is it you manage? When will I see you again, so I can lean and produce much laughter? When you do visit, could you perhaps bring the heart and liver of a mountain goat, and if possible a leg and a section of entrails? The food of strange rocks they collect for me has become tasteless, and the summer is too hot to live life without pleasure. Thank you. Your friend, Humphrey

shie (2006-07-04): Dear Humphrey, I have been a hermit for the last few months and haven't contacted or seen not only you but many of my friends. Days seem to pass by so fast these days. I haven't been able to catch up with your writing. Just to refresh my memory, it was such a pleasant break for me when I went for a walk with you, a few weeks ago (already!), one Friday evening right after the long week of work. (Yes, I work at an office everyday, as I have to eat and pay my rent, like everybody else. For you, Humphrey, this might be a difficult concept to understand, but you are not missing out anything just because you don't go to an office. I imagine that being a good dog, like you, it is already a full-time job which requires some experience and skills. It can be even harder than my 9 to 5 job as you probably do not work for hours.) Anyway, walking along the train track, right after the rain stopped, the air still wet, it was really nice. Colin and Kim stood balancing on the track while you ate grass, yeah, I was concerned how much you were eating! I was hoping to see your wild side, running fast in a field, that was the exciting 10 seconds, then.... more grass. I hope you did not have an upset stomach afterward. And again, thank you for posing for the photo, I am sure that someone has told you this before but you are photogenic!

Humphrey (2006-06-22): Oh Shie, I hope you were not wounded a number of nights ago when the Great Dog in a fury opened up the sky. The Great Dog suffers just as other dogs do in the heat, and the sweat that dropped from His mouth was abundant, and His breaths made the trees shiver, the clap of His jaws came so close as to make me believe He would tear the city in half, but I did not dare see the flash of His teeth bared for, as all dogs know, to see the Dog's teeth aglint is to lose an eye. All day I sensed His irritability, and I, as any friend would, reminded Colin and Kim, time and again, that it just might be time to crawl under the bed. Unheeded, patronized, I decided to save myself, but then safe, I saw them walking around, chatting, and even staring up into the sky through the various glass holes in our cave, as if, Shie, to tempt fate directly. Driven from my place, I pleaded with them. Finally when the Dog began to drool, and his breath came cold and death-like, Colin opened the cave to His fury and stood on its edge, gazing out, fearless. I admit to you, Shie, my tail between my legs, I ran. Come, Humphrey, he said, Come from your hiding spot, and I said, I am brave, but I am not a fool, to dare look what I most fear in the eye. Oh the great clattering of His jaws was mighty, and the light of His bared teeth filled the room. Afterwards, whilst He slept, we walked, Colin and I, in the cool of the peace, and the city smelled wet, pungent like a well dunked coat, and I was no longer afraid. I ran into some brothers and sisters and asked them, as we always do, did you look into the open mouth of the Great Dog? Of course not, most said, but one small sister, said, bah, superstitions! When will we rid ourselves of these pesky flees! Shie, you must understand that when the great Dog sleeps, He does with one eye open, so shaking my head quickly, i said, sister little one, you know not what you say. But yipping abruptly she said, do not talk to me of the Great Dog, can you not see that we are the Great Dogs, and this idea of our ancestors was placed by humans into our collective minds to subdue us, to seduce us, to render us frightened and easily leashed! Oh, I had heard such things before at the running grounds but never had I heard Colin implicated, the one whose feet I lie at all day and all night. I said, now quite mad, little sister, your ancestors gnawed on bloody bones just as mine did, they covered their droppings with their own hind legs, just as mine did, and they birthed pups in dank caves, just as mine did. Perhaps that second coat of fur and four paws you donned during the winter have gone to your head, perhaps you think you should be human, and walk upsright, and make sticks fly, and own abundant stores of food for which you do not have to hunt. Are you perchance the type of dog that knows only high beds and tasty treats, and have you forgotten the savageness of life, and savage within yourself? Perhaps your feces do not smell of your soul. With that I gave a great growl that made her quake, and she ran terrified between her master's feet. You're crazy! Colin said to me afterwards. Such a little dog, not a twentieth your size, and you bare your teeth. I'm crazy? I'm crazy? I thought. Then on the next corner, the crazy one, a mut of many fathers and none, I hear, barked out, The Great Dog spoke to me, The Great dog spoke to me, those who look at his bared teeth do not lose their eyes but gain sight! As you can imagine, Shie, this was all too much. I strained ahead, passing brothers and sisters without even the rudiments of polite exchange, and behind my back, as I was meant to, I heard that I felt I was too human for other dogs, and yet the world seemed so confused I could not turn back and explain myself. Perhaps these messages I leave to you have filled me with a sense of purpose, although towards what goal I cannot imagine. How could I explain myself at that moment, in all my confused misery? Only here do I feel calm enough to, if I can say, chew on the bloody bone of my existence. You cannot please everyone, Shie, for most do not want to be pleased. They want to be bitten, or threatned, or licked, or bowed down to. No dog within the Great One's sight would first ask to be pleased. It is a lesson that the experience of the Great Dog's last fury has taught me, and I hope you keep it close to your heart in your daily travels around the city. Your humble friend, Humphrey ps. When you visited last, you took a number of mechanic blinks. One of them you have cleverly used as a crown to my letters to you. I am pleased with the results, as I'm sure are you.

Humphrey (2006-06-04): Hello Shie! Well, we are now in the peak of the summer, and this coat isn't helping my sanity. Days are long but my favorite time is in the morning, when Colin gets up early after the strange bird calls. sOmetimes colin slaps it very hard, and, dazed, it recovers in silence for a while. Then it squawks again. Disturbing to say the least, to wake up to such violence. He gets up and after urination, the sound of which I try to keep from my own ears, for he never seems to realize that I have a bladder as well, and I have to wait for Kim to wake (much later, same bird) to see the first of the day. By that time the sun is out, gathering its ferocity. On walks, I admit I'm slovenly. I eat stalks of tall grass. I see who's been where that day, and cover those I should. All the time she yanks on my neck. All these important things happening and seemingly no time for them. Sometimes I meet a dog I'm not keen on and so I go after him. What's gotten into you? she always says, afterwards. Nothing, I want to say, it's the thing I'm trying to get out. But perhaps she wouldn't understand. She rarely scraps with humans, and even then, it's a weak exchange of bad looks. Unlike Kim, Colin is a fighter. Three times a week he comes home and I can smell the combat on him, the dried blood, the bruises. He walks with a limp in his right leg, and I've located the source of the pain, his knee joint. When I lick it him brushes me off with a flick of his hand. I'm a large dog, shie, but the might of this man under whose feet I wish to always lie is awesome. When we play fight he can throw me off my feet within moments of the contest. To challenge him truly would cause a great upheaval and he would most likely tear me limb from limb. I believe that a change might be on the horizon. I imagine that by the end of the summer, Kim will be sleeping in my bed in the corner and I'll take her place on the high bed with Colin. Perhaps in the fall, when the sun settles. Or winter, when, with snow, I am at my best. I hear them at the door. I have to put on my face of joy. Hope to hear from you soon.

Humphrey (2006-04-06): Dear Shie, Great Dog it's been crazy around here. One day, I'm under the desk, the next day, there's no desk. I look around and everything is in squares, then I visit my friends Derek and Calle, then when colin comes back to pick me up, he brings me up two long staircases, I thought perhaps that we were leaving the world, then I was in another space full of square forms and all about was dust. Over the next cycle or so of the moon the square forms disappear and things I recognize are placed and new smells come to me but in this different place it seems more frightening than reassuring. Now everything has settled and you know I can barely remember the old desk. We Bernese believe we have a special place in us like that of the source of the underground stream in the depths of a mountain. well, I needed all of that strength to survive the first time they left me on this peak. I admit that I tore the hair from a spot close to my tail. I licked it down so they wouldn't notice but colin finally did and many worried expressions were exchanged. I return to it, sometimes, when they leave - can I be right when I say there is comfort in familiar pain? I have a glass hole out of which I can survey a small cememnt stream and transparent linked walls and in one of the boxes lives a winter dog that i was afraid for. All his feces all around, he walks around it and looks to the inside of the cave but it seems no one is there. colin and kim sometimes look out the glass hole. Our friend Allen visited and was shown what I saw through the glass hole and looks of consternation were exchanged. A few days later, my poor brother was no longer to be seen, but his feces had disappeared, and now there is very little of interest, and yet still sometimes when they are away I look for him. It keeps me from my wound. Now I find my only comfort is to be at Colin's side constantly. He takes it in a good natured way, but I know he's saying to himself, Humphrey, you're 9 winters since birth, can you not rest easy within yourself. I admit, Shie, I see his point. Perhaps I will work on it. When are you coming over? they displayed the painting of muku and coru prominently, and frequently I visit it by lying on the couch (only possible whent they are not home) just underneath the portrait. this too, brings me peace. when will I see you next? Could you not come over soon, with that strange guy who does not smell of meat? call me at 276-3803, but of course, I will not answer unless I am alone. My blessings. Humphrey

shie (2006-02-24): Dear Humphrey,One of my favorite books from childhood called Akademia pana Klelsa (original title in Polish) I borrowed it from my elementary school library and loved it. When I was about twenty years old, I happened to find the book, looking very old and antique, in a glass display case at a city library. I looked for a copy since then, but it was out of print until this year. Finally and happily, I have a copy with me now. Another book I really loved was a story about a dog who thought he was just like one of us. Too bad I do not remember the title so I can not look for it. It was fairly short and small, with simple but cute ink drawings, translated from a foreign language. The main character was a dog, though he did not think he was a dog, sat for the dining table with his family, held a pen to write his name on a piece of paper (apparently, unreadable), went along everywhere a small boy in the family went to. I can not remember the ending of the story, but maybe he realized that he was a dog?? To think about this now, it seems like he completely lost his "dogness" (according to you, Humphrey), and showing that how hard that is to keep it without any confusion. Anyway, I still look for this book if anybody knows about it or let me know the title...

Humphrey (2006-02-20): Sometimes Shie, I think I might as well have been trained to lead the blind, know what I mean?

shie (2006-02-20): Hello Humphrey, a comment from you made my day! I imagine you sneaked in Colin's office while he stepped out for a few minuets to get some bread from a Jewish bakery on the corner, sat straight on a chair in front of his computer and typed on keyboard quickly, as you always do when nobody is around. Your paws are big but precise, after pressing "spell check", the message was sent off. When Colin came back, he noticed some changes around his computer and wondered,"hmm, this is Shie's stuff, did I leave this page open?" You wagged your tail, banged a few things dropped off the desk. Colin picked them up, scratched your back hard, as you love, forgot what he was wondering and returned to work. I imagine your expression of face when Colin and Kim find out about your comment on their page..

Humphrey (2006-02-19): Dear Shie, Many dogs love bread. Why not? I'll eat bread if I want to. I have to admit, I'm quite drawn to your painting, not just for its elegance but for what it says to me about being a dog, and also, about being one dog of many dogs in similar cicumstances around the world . How difficult for me, a pack animal, to live with two humans, and yet manage to retain not only my dogness, but also my individual personality, meetings with other dogs, as I've become older, being rare and mostly disappointing. Your painting has allowed me to see other dogs in my every day travels around the house, and see more dog in me as a result. Our plights are only too alike, two trapped in a painting, in death, in representation, myself trapped in an apartment, in life, in this skin, oh so binding, however shaggy and loose. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Yours, Humphrey the dog



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