Our Plott Hound nicknamed “Monk” ponders more than he wanders in the Nevada High Desert these days. He frequently strikes a contemplative pose, gazing across Antelope Range or at the view from Imlay Summit. He appears meditative and I know from my life with him that he is capable of profound devotion. And yet lately I have begun to wonder if he is faking it.
“Monk” earned his nickname years ago. We adopted him at 18 months as “Grecko.” “Grecko” was the strong silent type who intently observed our family fun but never joined in. I found his name, like his demeanor, inaccessible and yearned to replace it with one that reflected a quality of his soul. The hound’s aloofness, however, held my choice in abeyance. Months passed and I finally dubbed the dog “Queen Anne” because his distinctive paws resemble the feet of a Queen Anne chair. But the name lacked conviction.
So next I tried “Monkey,” a name derived from our Plott Hound’s glossy black hair and compassionate brown eyes. Soon after I began calling him “Monkey”, the dog seemed determined to communicate. He made sounds that started with “hm-mmm’s” and expanded into husky narratives accompanied by prancing and a toss of his head.
Even so, “Monkey” didn’t stick. But somewhere along the way–probably in haste–I shortened it to “Monk.” And “Monk” is nothing if not a monk.
When on a California beach one day Monk’s adopted brother, a German Short-Haired Pointer, was swept out to sea in a storm, Monk alerted us to the crisis.
When at home our pre-teen son routinely practiced on Monk his world-wide-wrestling moves, the Plott Hound offered no more resistance than a pillow.
When today we pair Monk with our whining wound-up Pointer in the car on an eight-hour drive to the Nevada High Desert, Monk is ever still and silent.
When I am frightened, Monk is fierce. When I worry, Monk grows calmer.
He seems the perfect monk. Yet is it just a ruse? In Nevada I watch Monk staring impassively at High Desert views as if he is contemplating life’s mysteries, preoccupied with matters of far greater importance than coming when I call.