Living with Ari

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My wife has been getting on me about my dog lately. She has a habit of thinking just because my dog is a female, she should be all gussied-up.

When I was thinking of a name a year and a half ago for her, I came up with the name Artemis. Artemis was the goddess of the hunt and depicted as carrying a bow and quiver. I enjoy bowhunting, so it seemed appropriate. However, I was outnumbered by the females of the household (not sure how I can get outnumbered by female when there are only two of them and there are three males, but evidently females’ votes count twice), and while her official name remained Artemis, her voiced name became Ari.

I let it go. I can handle Ari as a name.

Then several months ago, the wife decided it was time to get her groomed. She waited until I was on a business trip for a few days and set the appointment. One day, I received a text apologizing to me for the way Ari looked. Not that she looked bad, the groomer had trimmed and combed and cut exactly as my wife wished. All her fluffiness had disappeared to the floor below the groomer’s table.

Instead of the white puff of dog that I loved so much, she was set to attend the Westminster Dog Show. Worse yet, she had a bow and a scarf. Shall I repeat that? My dog had a bow and scarf! Not a bow and quiver as a goddess of the hunt should have, instead she was more like Venus, the goddess of love and prissiness and belonged as a My Little Pony extra.

OK, though. Her hair will grow back out, and the bow and scarf were quickly removed shortly after returning home.

That brings us to the now. Ari is a little dirty, perhaps a little matted at spots, has foul breath and really needs another haircut based on what my wife says. So I have promised to do so only to break the not-so-real promise day after day over the last few weeks.

First, Ari is not very fond of baths. She hates them. It becomes a wet-and-wild wonderland when trying to bathe her. She shakes early and often, leaving as many suds on me and the bathroom walls as she has on her mixture of white and liver-colored fur.

More importantly though, everything about her right now reminds me of our adventures together.

Those feet that are mud stained, resembling brown socks? That occurred when we went to the field, grabbing the trail cameras and hunting stands after the season ended. My shoes were slightly tinted, to come to think about it. But we had a great day as she tagged along right beside me without need of the leash.

The sand spur that is stuck in the tassel of her left ear? That too was a wonderful day. We were hiking through the woods and ran upon a fox squirrel. She stopped and barked as if she were notifying the alpha male that she was in charge, all while backing between my legs and hiding behind me from that terrifying black tree rat with a big bushy tail.

Her breathe that smells of fish? I am not exactly sure, but I believe it may be when she got into a bucket of shrimp I was using for bottom fishing while we were at the coast. Could it have been that long ago? Maybe she found another stash of shrimp in the bottom of the upright freezer since then. It is kind of hard to tell.

And her marshmellow like puff of hair all over her body? That is what keeps her warm in the cold. It is also what rests against my side when we sleep in the bed of the truck camper while on our trips. It is like a second pillow.

But I am sure I have to fulfil my faux promise soon. Otherwise, my wife may take things into her own hands and I will end up with a dog with a bow and scarf again.

Bill Howard is an avid bowhunter and outdoorsman. He teaches hunter education (IHEA) and bowhunter education (IBEP) in North Carolina. He is a member of North Carolina Bowhunters Association and Pope & Young, and is an official measurer for both.