I met Isaac the first time I went to visit Patrick on his farm. At that time Isaac was the only dog and he was singularly focused on his human. As much as he could be. Isaac was gregarious.
Isaac had a lot of personality. He was smart and swift and naughty. And he knew all of these things. He knew he could charm just about anything from just about anyone.
He was a rambunctious fellow. Wildly energetic. Would run with your car down the road and then jump on it as you were slowing to a stop. When you opened the door he would jump on you and into your car, letting you know not only how happy he was to see or meet you, but also to let you know you'd entered his territory. If you sat on the ground he would come up from behind, put his front paws on your shoulders, kiss your ears and knock your glasses off.
Patrick taught me how to be alpha with Isaac soon after we met so that he would stop walking all over me. He was the first dog who trained me. Because they were such an impenetrable team, Isaac hardly noticed me until one day.
One day I stayed with at the farm until dusk. When I left the house to get in my car, Isaac followed me outside. 'What?' I asked him, but he just looked up at me, all serious. When I opened the door he climbed across the driver's seat and into the well of the passenger side. I said, 'No, you can't come with me.' But he stayed quiet and snuggled in.
To this day none of the dogs have willingly ever gotten into a car. They've only seen a leash once. (When I forced my will on them and took a road trip to the ocean.)
Patrick says there is a "driveway" leading to the levy where his little house sits in Napa. But I call it a road, as it has twists and turns, bumps and holes, passes a number of vineyards, and is about a mile from Highway 29.
Along said road I stopped the car many times and told Isaac to go home. I told him that I couldn't take him to my own home. He would not get out or budge when I tried physically encouraging him. Before I crossed the little bridge over the creek, close to the perils of 29, I stopped my car and opened both doors and pleaded with him to go home.
This was the first time Isaac spoke to me. He told me that I should stay. Overnight. With Patrick.
He told us humans we were in love and it was time we admitted it.
On September 13, 2006 Isaac, spooked by the sound of a gun being fired, ran away from Patrick and the other dogs on their late afternoon walk. Instead of running home, as all the dogs do when they get removed from the pack, he ran onto 29. He was struck and killed instantly.
Patrick buried Izzy near the river, where he loved to go.
One day, over the summer, Isaac disappeared while I was taking them on their early evening walk. It had been hot out and this was our second and last walk as any during the day would have risked heat exhaustion. An hour after getting home I heard Isaac on the porch. I opend the door to find a dog who looked just like him except this one was grey where Isaac had been white.
He had found his way to the river to cool off. And to roll around in the mud. To look silly. Big white eyes peering out of dirty fur.
We liked swimming together. He made it in every year, not matter how much the flood took away.
I miss him so much. This is what I wrote to my friends and lovers who met him:
"i hope that you remember when he met you he was silly and excited and liked you because you were visiting with me. he might have knocked you over or kissed your ears or left you with the image of his curling tail as he walked ahead of you on a long walk. I will remember how he could also prance and sing with a faraway siren. or how he was the only puppy who survived in his litter because the coyotes ate the rest. or how he taught Babette and Abu the ways of the farm."
As preposterously excited and playful as he was, Isaac knew when to slow down. We allowed him to sleep at the foot of the bed when I napped through the afternoons after a surgery. Once he made it known he wanted me to stay at the farm, he became my dog too: choosing many days to stay at my feet while I read in the sun, instead of following Patrick into the field as he wove up and down the vineyard on the tractor.
And when I arrived at the farm after work, Isaac would sprint out to greet me and bring me to where Patrick was located on the 45 acre plot.
When the dogs are sleeping, they sometimes twitch. Patrick always says they're chasing rabbits. In the family dynamics of our dogs Babette has always been the hunter. She has the nose and leads the hunt. Hunkers down and moves so fast she's just a blur below the irrigation lines. But because Izzy led the pack, Bebe had to give the kill first to him.
We say 'rest in peace.' But for you, my dear dear friend, I hope you're running through the fields, swimming in rivers, and catching rabbits.