The Shop Dog Diaries: Mom Dog

Shop dog Lavinia, at home in the golden hour

We, the Shop Dogs of Parnassus, have a long and noble history of respecting our elders. Oh sure, we love a good puppy (looking at you, Barnabus), but there is a warmth and wisdom to be gained from those who have already fetched their share of tennis balls in this world. More than one of our pack is now hoisted out of the car in the mornings. They are good and humble servants, these shop people who love us.

When Lavinia moved from East Tennessee with Heather and Marlee three-and-a-half years ago, she felt she was too old to go to work. “You two go on,” is more or less what she said. “I’ll have supper ready when you get home.”

But let’s face it, even if you’ve worked your entire life getting the kids up in the morning and greeting the kids when they come home from school, playing with the kids in the yard, and snuggling in with them for stories at bedtime, being home alone all day is a drag. The kids had grown and gone, and even if Lavinia had reached retirement age, she still had plenty to contribute. Sure, she could have been a greeter at Walmart, but she didn’t know anybody who worked at Walmart. Heather and Marlee drove to Parnassus every day. One day, Lavinia decided to come along.

Supervising work in the back room

What does she ask for? Nothing, that’s what. She doesn’t need a dog bed or a blanket. That nice cold linoleum floor in the back room is perfectly fine. Every morning she stakes out her spot, the only place in the store where a dog can monitor the back door, the hallway to the restrooms, and the back offices where the shop people are working (and the other shop dogs waste valuable time begging biscuits off Pete). Lavinia fills the work environment with soothing reassurance. Yes, you may pet her head. Anyone can come into the back and pet her head. She would enjoy that.

What you might not know is what a looker she was back in the day, somewhere between an Australian cattle dog and a large sea creature, maybe a manatee or a walrus. Guys used to pull their cars over when she walked down the street. “What kind of dog is that?” they wanted to know. They said they’d do anything to have such a good-looking dog in their life. “Beautiful one,” they would murmur while rubbing her velvet ears, “do you want to come home and live with me?”

What a bunch of hooey. Lavinia was never swayed by compliments. She was never going to leave Heather, even for a good-looking guy with a mouthful of pretty words. And even though Marlee was an irritating addition to the family at first, Lavinia pretty much has her trained now. Lavinia supports Marlee in her ambitions: being a service dog, jumping through hula-hoops, going into grocery stores and movie theaters in her smart jacket. The young dogs today, they have a whole other set of opportunities.

Lavinia (right) with sister Marlee

But Lavinia was happy staying close to home. She enjoys books on cooking and nature. You know, the simple things.

Come by and say hello to the dog who could have been our own mother. The dog we love and cherish, the one who we may have to walk around but who always has us in her sights. We feel safer there.

Lavinia Recommends (as dictated to Heather):

Lavinia is very fond of food and believes everyone should eat well. And share generously. Among her favorite cookbooks right now are:

Rodney Scott's World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day: A Cookbook Cover ImageRodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day: A Cookbook

Nothing better than a barbecue with lots of friends to share with.

Serial Griller: Grillmaster Secrets for Flame-Cooked Perfection Cover ImageSerial Griller: Grillmaster Secrets for Flame-Cooked Perfection

This guy has a sense of humor. There are even recipes for vegetables in here, which aren’t really necessary, but some people like them.

Meat Illustrated: A Foolproof Guide to Understanding and Cooking with Cuts of All Kinds Cover ImageMeat Illustrated: A Foolproof Guide to Understanding and Cooking with Cuts of All Kinds

This is from the folks behind Cook’s Illustrated. Lavinia loves to peruse this at bedtime. Sweet dreams!

The Original Guide to Barbecue in the South (Wildsam Field Guides) Cover ImageThe Original Guide to Barbecue in the South (Wildsam Field Guides)

By Taylor Bruce (Editor) & Jessica Fontenot (Illustrator)

We’ll wrap the cookbooks with this handy dandy guide to Southern barbecue.

That leads us into Lavinia’s other passion: car travel. With the windows open. And it’s best if there are fields of grazing cows.

Slow Roads America: Photographs and Tales from the Nation's Back Roads Cover ImageSlow Roads America: Photographs and Tales from the Nation’s Back Roads

Jerry Park’s newest book, Slow Roads America, is fabulous…

Sandra Boynton: Hidden Cows 1,000-Piece Puzzle (Workman Puzzles) Cover ImageSandra Boynton: Hidden Cows 1,000-Piece Puzzle (Workman Puzzles)

…especially when paired with Sandra Boynton’s Hidden Cows Puzzle.

And as she settles in for the night, Lavinia likes to curl up with a copy of Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods or and of John Muir’s essays, especially Steep Trails.