Dog-Child.

I never thought I’d be one of those people who told a dog to go “get Daddy” or “say hi to Grandma and Grandpa.”

It took about 3 minutes. We found her on a family farm in northern Oklahoma, precisely ten miles south of Kansas and five miles down a dirt road. The locusts were humming like power lines, and there was standing water in the fields from summer flash flooding. She was one of two Bernese Mountain Dog puppies left from a litter. They chased each other through the tall grass and quickly disappeared, only to be located under the barbeque, eagerly licking out the greasetrap. I despaired of ever choosing between them. Ryan didn’t hesitate. “Look at her eyes,” he said. “That’s our girl.”


(Assata and Ryan, ten miles south of Kansas)


We named her for Assata Shakur, a Black Panther and Civil Rights activist who was wrongfully accused of several crimes in the 1970s, and who escaped to Cuba, where she was granted political asylum. (Assata: The Autobiography of Assata Shakur). Not sure what Ms. Shakur would think about having a dog named after her, but its given us plenty of opportunities to tell folks about a woman of extraordinary eloquence and dedication to the American people. Once we’ve corrected them. “No. not like Carne Asada. Assata, like the Black Panther.”

(post swim in the Sierra Nevadas, on the road trip home, July 2007)

The name means “She who struggles.” Our girl doesn’t, much.



(Washington state ferry headed into Seattle)

Mostly, we call her The Bean. It morphed out of Assata, honeybee. Which became Assata B, and then, somehow, Bean.
Yes, I am that dog-mom.
And Ryan is that dog-father.

(At Ghost Ranch, one of Georgia O’Keefe’s favorite places in northern New Mexico)

And, while they may never have thought of themselves as those kind of people either,
our friends and family are those dog-aunts, and dog-uncles, and dog-grandparents.

The Bean is mighty hard to resist.(in west seattle)

(rallying for elephant rights at the Woodland Park Zoo)

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2 Comments

Filed under Assata

2 responses to “Dog-Child.

  1. Sharkfin

    Yesterday, after a wonderful morning beachwalk with Duke in Oceanside (Chieffy can’t really walk on the rocks anymore, so I take Duke), I was walking up the sidewalk to the coffeeshop, when I noticed two beautiful Burnese running up the beach. I was looking west at the beach while walking east toward the coffeeshop and walked smack into a tree.

    All because of your dog.

  2. Heather

    Well see, eight years later and you can understand how loopey I get over the little mongrels. Can’t help it can you???
    Bax turns 3 in 5 days and Kota is nine in a month. They will always be the first grandchildren in Susan’s eyes.

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