WARNING: This is one of those “it’s-my-blog-and-I’m-gonna-get-personal-if-I-wanna” posts. And it’s probably also a blatant appeal to pet-lovers everywhere. Proceed with caution!
Presumably because my life isn’t insane enough already, my family decided that the time was right for us to adopt a new dog. Frequent 1WD readers will recall that our previous pooch, Samson, had to be put down last Summer while I was in Walla Walla at the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference. We’re dog people at Chateau Dude – no offense to you cat people out there, but I am not down with cats; cats will eat you if you die and that kind of freaks me out.
Anyway… bear with me, this will come back to wine… eventually…
Presumably because just getting a dog itself isn’t anywhere near challenging enough, we picked up a rescue case: an 18-month-old, just-had-lots-of-surgery, not-housebroken, kept-outside, never-really-been-walked, underfed, under-weight, and under-loved rescue that is part Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff) and (we think) part Doberman Pinscher. His new name (apparently, he has had several) is Bruno, short for “Brunello,” because he’s big and Italian, after all…
Much like his vinous namesake, there is nothing small about Bruno. I think his head and paws alone probably constitute several dozen pounds of lovable-lug, raw power.
I have actually met ponies that are smaller than Bruno.
When I mention “under-weight” above, technically I’m correct, but he’s still a massive 80+ pounds of canine, and he needs to get somewhere closer to 100 pounds to really be in the healthy zone. He has little idea how to behave, but he’s a quick study and I sure hope he keeps up the current pace, because he is so huge that if he continues to go potty inside and suffer separation anxiety, he will likely destroy my entire house faster than a troop of wild baboons.
In other words, Bruno needs a lot of work. But that hasn’t stopped him from teaching me some things already.
Having Bruno in the house and dealing with his (currently quite numerous) issues, and trying to love, medicate and feed him back to health (and to some semblance of doggie normalcy), has forced our entire family (our toddler daughter included) to employ levels of patience that we previously didn’t know that we possessed (or at least, I didn’t know that I possessed).
Getting back to you frequent 1WD readers, some of you may also recall that a dog’s approach to life can help us all to better appreciate wine – a topic inspired by Sam in his heyday, and one that had been on my mind lately as I wrote an updated version for the upcoming pilot issue of the soon-to-be-released, iPad-targeted e-magazine Uncorked .
The addition of Bruno to Clan Dude has reinforced for me the importance of patience in all things, and has underscored one of the key lessons in that dog-meets-life-meets-wine-appreciation Zen Wine mash-up: namely, Patience is everything when it comes to appreciating life (and wine).
Patience is the non-Bretty-yeast in the fermentation of our lives, the secret sauce in our life’s appreciation and gratitude recipes, the Zamboni on the hockey rink of our Consciousness that clears the way and smooths out the path for pretty much everything else worth keeping. Patience allows us to employ all of the other techniques that get us closer to understanding the true mystery in anything – wine included.
Last week, during a quick jaunt to Chicago, I had dinner with a friend at (you saw this one coming) a downtown steak house; he had been following the updates about Bruno from me on Facebook and the dinner topic included a run-down of Bruno and Bruno’s history and issues, and how he was coming along as a member of Clan Dude. We ordered some wine (you saw that one coming, too), and the dinner topic moved towards wine and how my friend, in his words after taking a sniff, “could never really taste wine; I just smell ‘grapes'”
“C’mon man, that’s bullsh*t,” I responded; “you’re not smelling what’s in the glass because you’re just not paying attention to what’s in the glass. You’re drinking, not focusing or really tasting. If you were, the rest would be easy. Anybody can do what I do when it comes to describing how a wine smells and tastes, it just takes patience.”
Of course, you don’t need a rescue dog to teach you the levels of patience needed to really “get” wine: you can take a much less expensive and saner shortcut by reading about that stuff here (or elsewhere). But when it comes to really appreciating fine wine, there are no real shortcuts; you need to consistently exercise your patience, and that part is actually hard – that’s the bad news. The good news is that doing it consistently is really the only thing about wine appreciation that’s difficult.
The rest, in comparison, is really quite simple – in fact, even a dog can do it…