Hello out there from in here, I have sad news. My Labrador, Virginia Lee Woolfe, died today in my arms.”V” deserves description, and because I love her so much, I will attach myself in every way to her magnificent simplicity, her uncalculated elegance, her effervescent youth.
I met V in a cage in Oxnard Ca. in 1996; I had never had a dog and had looked in every shelter my dear friend Bonnie (whom Iâ€™m sure V is happy to see again) would drive with me to. I didn’t know where I was, because, as a New Yorker, Oxnard is beyond reference, but I saw her compassionate eyes as she sat resigned and uncomplaining in that depressingly cramped space, and I said â€œI want you.â€ I named her the moment she curled at my knees in the passenger side of my newly leased Jaguar, she was about 18 months old and too frightened to pick her head up. Over the next few months as V trained me to be her mother and best friend she got to like the Jaguar very much, the passenger seat became her’s and her’s alone, I chauffeured her to the great hikes and beaches of Ca., and she enjoyed the many luxuries of air conditioned studios and catering on sets.
V and I not only went from lonely puppies to young adults and finally seasoned women together, we seemed to settle into ourselves at the same pace. We found Venice where we could walk and walk and walk on the poetic streets, Oakwood park where she had her kid admirers who adored throwing her tennis ball until I carried her home sometimes, and the beach during the wonderful winter rain storms. My life with V has been peaceful, strong and private. No matter what has gone on over these past years, I could depend on V, my Woolrich flannel jacket and my LL Bean boots, and of course, my blue jeans. Being alone with V was like being in a Robert Frost poem, complete yet open ended. Nature bound, yet spiritually unlimited. I wanted to live with V everywhere, especially New York, and I always promised her Central Park, but I never stopped touring and working long enough to plan a week ahead, and the basic truth is, V was everywhere to me. She stopped me yearning to be back in my city or forward in Australia, she centered me with her practical, contented love of being. I used to say that before I ever got involved with a religion or a spiritual practice or God forbid a guru, I’d follow V around for a week and learn what living is really about.
Some of you have met Huckleberry on the road, well, V was her teacher. When V met Huckleberry she was a black ball of wild furr who couldn’t walk five steps without stumbling. V taught her how to stay on the sidewalk, avoid the Pit bulls, stop at the curb, walk without needing a leash and get everything she wants out of her people. V also taught Huck how to behave in the studio so she isn’t thrown out during recording, even Jennifer Love Hewitt did amazing vocals while Huck sat quietly in her fur house on the piano in the same room, unbeknownced to the perceptive star. How many musos have said, “your dog is so cool, I did’t realize she’s been here the whole time.” That is a key point of creating, to be a guiding force and yet unseen, to close the gap without sucking an ounce of energy from the progress.
We had a great last day on earth together, V and I, she sat on the stoop with me and ate buttered toast, I took her in her cart to the beach, and she had steak for lunch.
Her whole family gathered round her in the last hours and the wind blew through the Eucalyptus leaves, Hummingbirds hovered, neighbors came to kiss her goodbye and I got to lay with her in my arms and feel our eternal relationship.
I didn’t say goodbye, I said “see you soon”, because when I do see her again, when she greets me at the gates with that fantastic wagging tail, it won’t feel like even a moment has passed. Weâ€™ll pick right up where we left off in the stream of life. Although, when I die, I must remember to have a tennis ball in my hand.