An invitation to dinner

I'm lucky. At present, both in Washington and Idaho, I have good neighbors.

But there's a difference.

In Washington, my close neighbors are mostly dog-less. They know and like my dogs, but if I'm invited over for a gathering, I assume the dogs aren't invited.

In Idaho, the dogs are almost always invited. When I arrange to walk in the forest with a neighbor, dogs are included. In fact, that's the main reason for the outing - letting the dogs get some exercise and enjoy the smells and sounds of the forest. A dinner invite usually includes the dogs.

Often, I suspect certain Idaho neighbors invite me to dinner just so they can spend time with my dogs.

I'm referring in particular to Dave and Ruth the neighbors I wrote about earlier in this blog (July). While visiting over Labor Day week, they invite my dogs - and me - to dinner.

As soon as we arrive at their house, Ruth shows the girls where the dog treats are stored.

Finn realizes something good must be in there, but also recognizes that he probably shouldn't choose this moment to be pushy.

Dave and Ruth make a delicious pizza for us to enjoy. Ruth made the dough, Dave the sauce and toppings. Good team effort.

As we eat, they ask if they can give the dogs bites of crust. "Yes!" I say enthusiastically, marveling to myself how Dave and Ruth do things exactly as I do: dogs get the last bite, and with pizza, that means the crust.

My agreement with my dogs is that they always get the last bite. This requires that they patiently wait near the table - without drooling - until I'm done. I am happy to see them approach dinner with Ruth and Dave in the same polite manner.

After dinner and before an awesome desert of peach cobbler with ice cream, Dave encourages the dogs to explore the toy stash left behind by their beloved dog Nell. Sadly, Dave and Ruth had to let Nell go in February, at age 15. She was their heart dog, and they miss her dearly. I like to think that hanging with my dogs helps ease that pain a bit. 

First, Finn comes back with a toy. "Oh - he got the dinosaur! That was one of Nell's favorites," says Ruth. I immediately offered to take it away from Finn so he wouldn't ruin such a prized toy, but Ruth and Dave both insist that Finn should play with it.

"Look! Maia found the alien!" Huh? Apparently this toy, in Maia's jaws, is an alien, but you can't see that in this photo. This toy has a squeaker in it, so of course Maia wants it. I have to take it away, knowing that Maia will have the toy eviscerated and squeaker removed within minutes if left to her own devices. Dave and Ruth argue with me, but I insist. I hate seeing the remains of dead toys on the floor.

Meadow decides she'd rather sniff the various elk horns and other interesting nature smells around Dave and Ruth's home than pick a toy from Nell's stash.

We stay until after dark. It has been a most pleasant dinner and time spent with good people. Dave and Ruth worry about me finding my way home in the dark, offering a flashlight. I assure them that Maia's sense of direction is infallible, and with three dogs to guide and protect me, I'm fine. We head out with hearty thank you's.

Besides, it's hardly any distance. Down their driveway, up the road a bit, then up my driveway.

In fact, that short traverse turns into one of the highlights of this trip to Idaho. For whatever reason, I haven't yet taken the time to stand outside after dark, drinking in the sparkling stars in an expansive sky unpolluted with city lights. I can see all kinds of constellations I can't identify. As the dogs and I navigate our way in the dark, I frequently stop, looking up, soaking it all in. This is one big, beautiful, amazing universe. And my little slice of it in Idaho can be very welcoming and nourishing.
Rebecca WallickComment