Wren has it, fear of new things, neophobia. I learned this word when I wrote about wild rat behavior for a job I had before vet school. Rats don’t like novel things—strange, unfamiliar objects could eat you, right?
Today Wren refused to come in the front door because I had left a large cooler on the stoop and she thought: thou shall not pass.
I am not so different. I don’t like going to parties with strangers, or going to a new place, like a yoga class the first time. I don’t have a fear of coolers, though.
On Saturday, I had gone to get out of a current neophobic rut and rent a SUP, a stand-up paddle board. I had talked to my brother about his SUP estuary adventures and I thought, I love water, I don’t mind falling in. And then the current issue of Whole Dog Journal had a piece on how to train your dog to ride the SUP with you. It was a herding dog in the article’s pictures, not a chihua, but still.
I got to the small, quiet urban lake, and all the SUPs were sold out. There was a teenage boy’s SUP birthday party and a college-age crew playing what looked like a very slow and awkward SUP water soccer. So I rented a kayak and proceeded to drag my feet and hands in the water to cool down. The sun was pushing down and I really really wanted to get out of the boat to swim mid-lake, but I chickened out. I worried I couldn’t get back in, after. So much for trying new things.
Years ago, Sue rented a rowboat on this lake and took my red dog, Ouzel, and me out for a paddle. I wrote a poem about it, but I won't impose the whole thing on you. But indulge me below, with an excerpt, as a tribute, to my first dog, the number one in line of the heart of all the dogs I love.
My red dog leaned his head out to drink and we leaned with him so he could reach. Trees hid the city. There was a settling inside, a quiet yellow filling us, the boat groaning from its oars, and me staring back at you.
One can love light and the reflection of light.
The lake was my green home.