Friday, February 25, 2011

Chance Encounters

If you stop to think about it, life is a strange thing. We weave through the tapestry of existence, our journey a single thread crisscrossing countless other journeys and lives. And we often never know which encounters hold greater significance than any others until much later. A conversation with a stranger in a coffee shop, like the infamous flutter of those butterfly wings across the sea, can set into motion a sequence of events that would never have happened had you decided to skip coffee that day. Even encounters with books and movies can alter the color of the tapestry and shape our lives. 

Lady is a member of this family because of an American author and ecologist I've never met. Anne LaBastille wrote the book Woodswoman as a memoir of her experience building a cabin in the Adirondack Mountains and living completely devoid of modern conveniences such as electricity, running water, or telephone. In it and her next book Beyond Black Bear Lake, she chronicles her friendships, romances, her close bond with her German Shepherd dogs, the ebb and flow of nature, and her conservation efforts. I was in my 20s when I read these books, and I was captivated. I wanted to build a cabin in the wilderness and live there with my German Shepherd dogs. Never mind that I had a perfectly good job in the city, and no dog at all. But the seed was planted. 

I never built that cabin, but I did fall head over heels in love with the German Shepherd breed. I felt like I knew Dr. LaBastille's shepherds Pitzi and Condor. When I was finally at a place in my life where having a dog made sense, I knew exactly the type of dog I wanted. 

Jessie turned out to be everything I'd imagined a German Shepherd to be. Her intelligence astonished me. Growing up, we had what I'd considered smart dogs, but Jessie was way beyond "dog-smart." She was "people-smart." She understood English, and was perceptive in a way that amazed me. Lady is a completely different dog than Jessie, but she has many of the same characteristics I've come to love in this breed. She's beautiful, sensitive, and loyal beyond all reason. I love the way she watches out for every member of the family, human and furry alike. She seems to sense that kitties and children need a higher level of supervision, and acts accordingly. I am grateful that the thread of Annie LaBastille's life touched mine through her writing. My journey has been richer because of the German Shepherds sharing it. 



  1. So true how we are all drawn to different breeds, experiences, people, etc., and amazing how they influence our journey. I love your sentence "We weave through the tapestry of existence, our journey a single thread crisscrossing countless other journeys and lives." My first cherished breed was the Collie; my best friend has GSD's . . . whenever we went anywhere, people would say, "Oh, look, there's Lassie and Rin-Tin-Tin." :-) And thanks for mentioning those books; never read them, but am putting them on my wish list now.

  2. a wonderful commentary on life (with dogs)
    my journey is so much richer because of the
    companionship of dogs. They say in silence
    what humans can never put into words.
    dog's i view

  3. So interesting. It's true that you never realize what an impact someone might have on your life, or even what an impact you may have on someone's life and not even know it. Very well-written.

  4. What a sweet realization about how threads are intertwined and passed along to others. We all make a difference and an impact on those around us. Sounds like you may have gotten the best part of your encounter with Annie LaBastille's chronicles - your love and relationships with German Shepherds. But who knows, that cabin may still be out there somewhere!

  5. Thank you for coming by our blog. You have a great blog here and this is such a wonderful post!

  6. Chance is a wonderful thing --and shepherds are, indeed, special.

  7. I love this post! Not just because it has a photo of me and my FAVORITE German Shepherd, but it glorifies such a fabulous breed! I love Lady!