8 February 2009

Finally starting to catch up to date with my website entries, I now must share about the most amazing change in my life….

The last week of September I brought home my newest family member, a little Miniature Pinscher, named Maestro!
Actually, being part of the M-litter at the Bellocean Kennel, his full name is Bellocean’s Marvelous Maestro.
I can’t help it, I have to share a whole bunch of pictures, because he is soooo adorable, and he is growing up so fast. Although I can’t promise I won’t publish more pictures of him, I can speculate that it will not be as frequent or in as high quantity as today…

I used to have two cats. Sophia and Leicha. They were the sweetest little friends, and I loved them so much. Both of them died in 2007, having had long and good lives, and having spread an amazing amount of TLC to everyone they knew.

I started contemplating getting a dog I could travel with shortly after I lost the cats. Partially because I missed them, and partially because I became more and more aware just how much more sane and emotionally normal I had felt when being in contact with animals daily.

So, I started looking for a kennel in the south of Sweden, seeing as I would be in Malmö for a long enough period to get at least a little bit settled with a new puppy. And I found Bellocean’s, run by a lovely young woman named Britzyk Bell Mantilla. I found the puppy for me there. Britzyk guided me through the early process of choosing the breed and gender of my future dog, and I also got a lot of helpful insight into what this all would entail.

In the end of July the M-litter was born. Four sweet puppies for lovely mom Tali.

The name Maestro was suggested to me by my dear friend Evan. Evan is a former violinist and has played under the baton of dozens of the past century’s most distinguished maestri, and for some reason the name suggestion just kept me smiling and giggling. Especially since I know something about the breed of my future dog, it seemed somehow appropriate that a feisty, small dog with a huge personality should have such a name. Somehow Ben or Fido just didn’t do it for me. I hadn’t quite made up my mind, but then Britzyk sort of sealed the deal for me.
Maestro is the one with his nose in the air ~ closest to his Mamma…

I also call him Baby-Roo, because he bounces like a kangaroo, or alternatively he lifts off like a helicopter.

I saw him the first time when he was three weeks old, already displaying his insatiable kissing urges…

I didn’t see him again until he was 8 weeks, but I couldn’t take him home until two weeks later, after my premiere of Death and the Maiden.

At first he spent most of his time sleeping, or keeping me from sleeping…. I figured that the most important things to teach him besides the normal doggy behaviors, was how to cope with my singing as well as how to travel like a pro. I started by taking him to a practice room at the opera house, for some vocalizing. At first he looked at me and tilted his little head as if to ask, “are you OK?”. Then he promptly asked to jump up in my lap, and while I sat at the piano, he then proceeded to curl up and fall asleep, and stayed that way for 90 minutes while I hollered Strauss above his little ears. In fact, he can sleep through almost anything. Amazing!!

But then I thought I had to see if he really could find his place in my life, so I took him on his first plane ride up to Stockholm. He was a model jet setter, staying in his bag and being very quiet and calm. Of course he charms everyone he looks at (like all babies), including his by now hopelessly enamoured owner. It is lovely to see the otherwise stern security control guards crack smiles and ask to take the leash for a few moments….

In Stockholm the autumn leaves were turning and my niece Sandra got these lovely photos of the two of us.

I finished my time in Malmö and headed back to the States. So, this of course was the big and scary test for the new dog owner, as we now had an 8 hour flight ahead of us. I took all the good advice I could get my hands on, timing his food and water rations, taking him for a 90 minute run on the beach before leaving, and trying to stay calm myself ~ and lo and behold, he was as perfect as if scripted. He liked the meatballs I brought and he was so sweet and still the whole flight. Ten hours later, he put his little paws on American soil, immediately did his business, and then calmly hopped into the car and said hello to his new friend Tim, who picked us up.

Since then we have flown to San Francisco, Chicago, and South Carolina, and he has proven that he really can handle this life style I’ve dragged him into, and with flying colors, as it were…

We spent Christmas and New Year’s with friends on Hilton Head Island, where he ran his little self tired on the miles of open beach and played hysterically with his new Labrador friend Megan. He loves other dogs, is very careful but sweet with people, and thinks birds are just the coolest creation ever. He can easily do a 3-4 mile run, despite his small frame. He’s now 11.5lbs and very feisty.

Unfortunately, he is not at all growing into his name. He follows me everywhere (who ever heard of a Maestro who did that), although actually, rarely when I want him to…. And he doesn’t like being in the center of attention AT ALL. In fact, it makes him very upset. If you ever meet him, don’t look at him, and no hands please. He’ll sniff your legs and a few minutes later he’ll be your friend… He has discovered his voice, but is rarely angry or confrontational, and he always wants to play with the others of his kind… No, he’s not a normal maestro at all. But he is mine.

But the term is really originally for someone who is masterful, isn’t it? Someone who teaches and mentors. He does that. He is teaching me patience. And forgiveness. And gentleness. He is teaching me to be consistent, or forever hold my peace. And to have fun…. EVERY DAY!!! He reminds me to take naps and to gleefully distribute wet kisses even if uninvited… That every day is a new beginning… And that sometimes, all you need to be happy, is a stick of your own!