Life through the eyes of a very special pup

A Yankee Notebook with Willem Lange

This week’s offering is written from a lower vantage point than the usual; or, you might say, more down to earth. A reader suggested recently that, instead of describing the relationship between me and my constant companion, Kiki, from my elevated situation, I let her take over for once and limn the details of our life together from her, canine, point of view. Unavoidably, this will involve some projection, but I hope in a reverse direction: ascribing to myself virtues and kindnesses, rather than defects and darkness.

Hello. My name is Kiki, and you don’t know about me except you’ve read stuff written by my boss, Mister Lange. I got that line, by the way, from Huckleberry Finn, which the boss frequently reads to me, along with Winnie-the-Pooh. I came here to Vermont from Texas, where I was fostered by a wonderful woman named Heather who gave me my name. Before that, I don’t know where I came from or who my parents were. I look like what they call a Border Terrier more than anything else; but when the boss showed my picture once to a Scottish couple who breed them, they scoffed. So now he calls me a Godnose Terrier.

It was a long trip here from Texas, a bunch of us riding together in a van. Once we were here, we had to get our shots, they said, and I had an operation, and finally we got to meet our new parents. It was very confusing and stressful, but the man who paid my bill and took me to his car – the boss – seemed nice and gentle. But he held me tight, too, so no matter how I squirmed, I couldn’t get away.

We live together now, just he and I, on one floor of this pretty big house. When I first came, the boss’s wife was alive, but she wasn’t here very long, so we visited her every day at her nursing home. I always jumped up on the bed to look for crumbs on her chest, and she petted me; but she said she was worried that the boss wouldn’t train me to behave the way she would have. I thought that was just fine. But she sold the boss short. He’s never sat me down for a lesson with a bag of treats. Instead, he tells me what a great dog I am and pats me when I do things right. And when I do something stupid or naughty, like eating holes through fleece blankets and throws, or running down toward the road, he gives me the stink eye. I try to pretend that doesn’t bother me, but my ears always go flat and he can tell I hear him.

He told me once that he’d played a mean trick on his last dog with a puffball, and that she’d looked at him with such a look that he swore he’d never again do anything to betray the trust of another animal. So he doesn’t ever tease me. Still, I know he does a great Quasimodo – like, he comes out of the garage dragging one foot and growling, “When I catch you, I’m going to break every bone in your miserable little body.” It’s scary, but I love it! I get one of my favorite sticks and dance around him about ten feet away till he gets to the house. He can also do a good Edith Hamilton – “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!” in a really high witch’s voice. He says that mostly when I leave a stick in front of the back door.

He says that dogs like a routine, something they can count on. I guess that’s true: We get up at six; he lets me out, turns off the night light in the hall with a “Merci, Soleil!” and goes into the kitchen to greet his pal Monsieur Café. Weird, but harmless. Takes his pills, lets me in (if it’s raining or really cold, I’ve been waiting on the doorstep), showers, dresses, and starts breakfast. I get a begging strip and, when cheese-chopping time comes, a little hunk of Swiss. Then I beat it while he finishes up and eats with the news on.

We used to go for coffee mid-morning, but that’s out for now. So I sit behind him in the recliner or under the corner desk while he answers mail, writes, and corrects the spelling and grammatical errors of the meanest people on the Internet. I love going to the bank with him because I always get a treat at the window. The bank has the best ones, and they’re big! Post office, not so much. It’s government property, and there are men in uniforms there – the boss calls them los Federales – who get all upset if I go in.

In the afternoon we walk in the park, usually with a very friendly French woman who teaches French at the local high school. She’s taught me not to jump up for a treat (at least on her) – something the boss never bothered to do. We come back home, put the cars away, and the boss says good night to both of them – more weirdness. Then he has a snack of kielbasa, cheese, crackers, and whiskey, and I get little bits of all of it except the whiskey. Not good for you, he says. As if it’s good for him. After our suppers we sit on the porch in the setting sun – that’ll end soon – while he reads and dips a petit écolier into his hot chocolate.

So for the time being, at least, we’re living a pretty peaceful life here. It can’t last, of course – he’s getting pretty old and a little shaky – but it’ll do for now. When he sits, I sit nearby; when he stands, I stand between his feet, looking forward; when we walk in the woods, I scout ahead and beside, keeping him safe from squirrels, deer, bears, and cougars. It’s what Godnose Terriers are bred to do.

But my favorite time of all is after lunch, when he settles down in his recliner to read and nap. I wait till he’s settled, and then jump up, sometimes with my ball, and nestle between his legs. I know he won’t move without warning me, so I can relax completely. And as I do, I remember what he told me once: that, just like Bluetooth pairing between a cell phone and a car audio system, we match each other’s vital signs: we both slow down; our heart rates drop; our breathing slows till we’re sometimes synchronized, and our blood pressure drops. Or at least his does; we don’t have a sphygmomanometer (he taught me to spell that) for terriers. It’s at those moments that Texas seems far, far away – another world and life, almost – and I’m as happy as anyone could be, here in what the boss calls the centre of the civilized world.


Return to the
Windows to the Wild
Main Page

WINDOWS TO THE WILD WITH WILLEM LANGE is generously supported by the Alice J. Reen Charitable Trust and the Bailey Charitable Foundation

Willem Lange’s wardrobe is generously donated by The Kittery Trading Post


Watch Online

Moose Whispers

Willem goes looking for moose with long-time moose researcher Charles Willey in Colebrook.

Watch More Life through the eyes of a very special pup

TV Schedule

Full Schedule



Learn More...


Podcast

Listen on your favorite podcast platform

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Google Podcasts Subscribe on Podbean Subscribe on I Heart Radio Subscribe on Amazon Music

 

Thanks to our podcast partner: The Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication at Franklin Pierce University


More Video

Long Trail Hike In Vermont

Long Trail Hike In Vermont

A trip along Vermont's Long Trail.

Mount Auburn Cemetery

Mount Auburn Cemetery

Join host Willem Lange on a tour of a Cambridge oasis -- the Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Adventures With Floki

Adventures With Floki

Melissa Elam has hiked all of NH's 4,000-foot mountains with her cat, Floki.

Journey Across Ireland

Journey Across Ireland

Willem and a group of people from throughout New England took a trip through Ireland.


Scenic Railriders

Scenic Railriders

What do you do with a section of 170-year-old abandoned railroad track?

Eco River Run

Eco River Run

A North Conway family shares what they learned about the effects of climate change.

Changing Winter

Changing Winter

Gabriel Andrus will ski from the northern border of NH to its southern border this winter.

Rockhounds

Rockhounds

There are gems in the hills. Host Willem Lange learns there's a lot to rock hunting.

Record-Setting Hiker

Record-Setting Hiker

Arlette Laan is the first woman to hike all eleven of the National Scenic Trails.

Kayaking With Cookies

Kayaking With Cookies

Kayaker Betsy Wish set out years ago to meet the people who catch our lobsters.

Coastal Trek

Coastal Trek

Host Willem Lange is at sea on the American Eagle schooner.

All Persons Trail

All Persons Trail

The Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve is considered an ecological gem.

Rowing the Erie Canal

Rowing the Erie Canal

Competitive rower Erik Frid takes a break from competition to row 300 miles.

Outdoor Classroom

Outdoor Classroom

Susie Spikol is a naturalist at the Harris Center for Conservation Education.

Community Outing

Community Outing

Mt. Eustis Ski Hill opened in 1939 and was a community gathering place until it closed.

One Thousand Hours Outside

One Thousand Hours Outside

New Hampshire resident Susan Dromey Heeter is competitive.

Hiking with David

Hiking with David

David Krueger is a Language Specialist / Interpreter, you may have seen him.

Sectional Hiker

Sectional Hiker

Redline guide Ken Hodges hikes with Debby "Bear Repellent" Roberts.

Summits In Solidarity

Summits In Solidarity

Willem hikes with partners and participants of Summits in Solidarity.

Wood Island Lifesaving Station

Wood Island Lifesaving Station

The Lifesaving Station at Wood Island was used for sea rescue prior to the Coast Guard.

Wood Island Lifesaving Station (Preview)

Wood Island Lifesaving Station (Preview)

The Lifesaving Station at Wood Island was used for sea rescue prior to the Coast Guard.

Paddling The Saco

Paddling The Saco

Conway photographer Joe Klementovich uses a paddleboard to explore 130 miles of the Saco.

School at Sea

School at Sea

Students attend school aboard a schooner.

Season 17

Season 17

Join us for an all new season of Windows to the Wild with Willem Lange! Wednesdays at 7:30

A Hike With Friends

A Hike With Friends

Host Willem Lange is with friends on the Tucker Mountain trail in Vermont.

Hiking Back In Time With Tom Ryan

Hiking Back In Time With Tom Ryan

Host Willem Lange is off to Cape Cod w/ Kiki for a hike with bestselling author Tom Ryan.

Winter In The White Mountains

Winter In The White Mountains

Outdoor Afro volunteer leader Mardi Fuller will take viewers on a winter hike.

Hidden Treasures

Hidden Treasures

Jason Berard is the Stewardship Director at the Upper Valley Land Trust.

Hidden Treasures (Preview)

Hidden Treasures (Preview)

Some of New Hampshire's "hidden treasures".

My Hike With Laura Waterman (Preview)

My Hike With Laura Waterman (Preview)

In 1971, Laura Waterman and her husband Guy decided to leave behind a corporate life.

My Hike With Laura Waterman

My Hike With Laura Waterman

In 1971, Laura Waterman and her husband Guy decided to leave behind a corporate life.

High Places

High Places

The skill it takes to climb NH's breath-taking cliff faces.

Outdoor Classroom (Preview)

Outdoor Classroom (Preview)

Outdoor educator Scott Ellis is passionate about connecting people with the outdoors.

Outdoor Classroom

Outdoor Classroom

Outdoor educator Scott Ellis is passionate about connecting people with the outdoors.

Preserving A Way Of Life

Preserving A Way Of Life

Host Willem Lange visits one of NH's spectacular public properties.

Preserving A Way Of Life (Preview)

Preserving A Way Of Life (Preview)

Host Willem Lange visits one of NH's spectacular public properties.

Memorial Hike

Memorial Hike

Rachael decided not to let their dream die.

Memorial Hike (Preview)

Memorial Hike (Preview)

Rachael decided not to let their dream die.

Build It And They Will Come (Preview)

Build It And They Will Come (Preview)

When Marianne Borowski retired, she had a dream to create an adventure trail.

Build It And They Will Come

Build It And They Will Come

When Marianne Borowski retired, she had a dream to create an adventure trail.

A Trek Through Scotland

A Trek Through Scotland

Host Willem Lange explores the history, culture and natural beauty of Scotland.

A Trek Through Scotland (Preview)

A Trek Through Scotland (Preview)

Host Willem Lange explores the history, culture and natural beauty of Scotland.

Mountain Safety

Mountain Safety

Host Willem Lange spends the day at Pinkham Notch where he learns about staying safe.

Forest Therapy With Dogs

Forest Therapy With Dogs

She shows how to have a deep connection with our dogs and nature.

Forest Therapy With Dogs (Preview)

Forest Therapy With Dogs (Preview)

Forest Therapy Guide Nadine Mazzola and their dogs.

Taking On Mount Washington (Preview)

Taking On Mount Washington (Preview)

Mount Washington is a New England icon that dares people to challenge it.

Taking On Mount Washington

Taking On Mount Washington

Mount Washington is a New England icon that dares people to challenge it.

Classroom On The Connecticut

Classroom On The Connecticut

Vermont teacher Scott Ellis believes that real learning happens outdoors.



Visit video.nhpbs.org to see even more local and national video.


More to Explore

Bird Tales

Bird Tales

Counting On Birds

Counting On Birds

Journey of the Broad-Winged Hawk

Journey of the Broad-Winged Hawk

Lighthawk: Destination Conservation

Lighthawk: Destination Conservation

Plight of the Grassland Birds

Plight of the Grassland Birds

Saving New England Fisheries

Saving New England Fisheries

Saving Songbirds

Saving Songbirds