Eris had her own surname and appellation -- The Doggess of Discord -- but her last veterinarian called her "Eris Yronwode," and so she too became one of the few who bear the family name. Her origin remains a mystery -- she was found under someone's car in nagasiva and June's driveway on Hermina Way in Milpitas, CA, on a dark and rainy night in 1988. She was less than a year old, but had already been housetrained and spayed. As close as could be determined she was born on Leap Year Day of 1988.
For the next 14 years Eris was a dear and close friend of nagasiva yronwode and followed him on many adventures. No one knew what kind of dog she was -- the vets and groomers she saw through the years often called her a "Cockapoo Mix," but she didn't look or act like a Cockerpoo ("She's an Eris kind of dog!" said siva.) She was a lot more close-coupled and solidly built than a Poodle, although her black curly hair did resemble a Poodle's somewhat, except on her ears, where is was silky and wavy. Her tail had never been docked like a Poodle's, and she also had a white spot on her chest, a disqualifying mark among Poodles. (You can see her white chest spot in this photo, taken on New Years Eve, 1990, when, as a 12 year old, she was Best Dog at the wedding of nagasiva and catherine yronwode. The extremely tall man holding her leash is siva, of course.)
It's hard to take pictures of black dogs, especially black dogs with light-absorbing curly hair, so almost every photograph of Eris seems to be a picture of a black mop with loving brown eyes. Here she is as a young girl, shortly after being rescued. She is playing a very gentle game of tug-of-war over some pantyhose with a small adult dog named Gigi. Gigi seems to be taking the game seriously; Eris has assumed one of her favourite positions, curled up with her rear against the chest of someone she likes -- in this case Gigi's caretaker, siva's ex-grandmother-in-law.
With her curly-frizzy hair, Eris didn't shed much, but that hair kept growing all the time, and this afforded endless opportunities for shaping and styling. Since no one knew what kind of dog she was, each groomer who saw her treated her in a different way. Some groomed her like a Poodle, others like a Bichon Frisee. One summer siva (who often clipped her hair himself with scissors) asked a groomer to cut her hair in a Mohawk, but Eris seemed to find it uncomfortable, and they never did it again. Sometimes siva let her hair grow long, and then people asked him if she was a Puli because of her dreadlocks. Though experiments with Poodle and Schnauzer cuts were amusing, over time it became obvious that Eris liked her hair trimmed about 1 inch long all over in the summer and up to 2 inches long in the winter, and kept short enough around her face to stay out of her eyes and mouth. Her up-curled tail was usually left in fully "feathered" form, but some groomers liked to shave it down and keep a little tuft at the end.
Eris was an unusually intelligent dog who carried herself beautifully and was a graceful dancer, leaper, and hind-leg-walker. She very rarely barked, but she yodelled loudly whenever siva returned after a short separation. People who got to know her almost invariably described her as "cat like." Here she is in one of her most cat-like positions, sitting on a blue sofa with one front leg delicately curled beneath her. She is looking off to one side, probably at siva. Unless she was asleep or being offered food treats or playtime by someone else, she rarely took her eyes off him for more than a few minutes. He was her Pack Leader and she looked to him for fun, excitement, and direction. Also, like many rescued dogs who have spent some time on the street before being adopted, she always had a bit of separation anxiety. She didn't want to be abandoned again. She exhibited quite a bit of latent herding instinct, always trying to keep people bunched up, or positioning herself in doorways so she could spring into action to stop vagrant human pack members from "escaping." Sometimes if she couldn't stop them from leaving she would "spin" in front of them, like a frantic Border Collie.
When Eris was a few years old, siva and June celebrated their Unwedding, and so she followed her Pack Leader away from Milpitis, where these pictures were taken. Siva avoided photography, so no visual documentation of her adulthood and middle age remains. She was one of the first four members of the House of Kaos, founded in the Rose Garden District of San Jose and composed of siva, his brother Ken, Eris, and Vladimir (the Impaler), a cat. Over the years, the changing membership of the House of Kaos came to include many other people who were compatible with Eris. Shortly after Vlad arrived, the House relocated to Ironwood Drive in San Jose, California. The street name was to prove a significant coincidence!
In 1998, after four years of online correspondence, siva and cat yronwode finally met. It was love at first sight, and siva soon moved in with her, followed a few months later by Eris, who had remained behind on Ironwood Drive in the care of Lisa, siva's close friend, who loved her very much.
When Eris came to live at ArkaotikA in Forestville, her new home, cat, who is a bit of an "animal person," theorized that she was a purebred dog or a deliberate two-breed cross of some sort, not a casual "mix" -- and certainly not a "Cockapoo Mix." She took Eris to several groomers, hoping that one of them would know what breed she was. Opinions ranged all over the map, including some creative couplings that would have made the AKC blush (A Tibetan Terrier crossed with a black Standard Poodle?).
Around the age of 10, Eris slowly began to go deaf. She was still a vigourous, bouncy, dancing girl, but her cloudy eyes betrayed her senior status. She was highly food motivated and although siva said, "She's perfect; she doesn't need training," cat enjoyed "teaching an old dog new tricks" and found that Eris would do almost anything for a treat, including shaking hands and jumping very high. She also liked to steal fish-flavoured canned cat food from the cat's bowls, but sometimes seemed embarrassed when it was offered to her directly. ("Cat food? No, none for me, thanks. That's for the cats.")
In her new home Eris also found a new hobby. She became a devoted and dedicated Car Dog, choosing to spend as many hours running to and sitting inside the family's ornamental Mojo Car as possible. She liked to greet people who came to gawk at the outrageous art car when it was parked in public spaces, and of course they loved to pet her lavish curls. ("She's so SOFT!") It was around this time that Eris acquired the subsidiary name "Fluffy" and her hair clippings began to be used in magic spells that were prepared and sold through the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Ever the gracious Therapy Dog, Eris allowed cat to become her secondary caretaker. In this picture, taken during a visit to June's home in Milpitas, she is eagerly licking cat's face.
One day in the year 2000, when The Doggess of Discord was 12 years old, the whole world changed for those who loved her. Cat and siva were engaged in an afternoon wine tour with June, who had come up from Milpitas to taste the offerings at the Iron Horse Vineyard in Sebastopol. Another car drove up and the couple inside got out, then opened the rear door for their dog -- and she was ANOTHER ERIS! Cat was completely blown away by the sight of this Eris look-alike and rushed over to ask the dog's caretakers what breed she was. They said she was a rare breed, a PORTUGUESE WATER DOG, and her name was Madeira. She had been bred by a woman in Petaluma, California.
Madeira looked like, moved like, felt like, and behaved just like Eris. It was a stunning vindication of what cat calls "Genetics in Action." Madeira's kind humans gave cat the name of the breeder and told her to look online for the web site of The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America. As soon as she got home, she did so, and then she phoned the local representative of The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America Rescue and Relocation Committee and asked if she could arrange for Eris to be seen by a breeder who might confirm or deny that she was in reality a PWD. The first question they asked was, "Does she have webbed feet?" -- and sure enough, she did. (Who would have known?) A meeting with the Rescue coordinator was soon arranged, and the verdict was: "SHE IS ONE!" How she came to be lost in a rainstorm in Milpitas in 1988, when there were probably fewer than 1,000 PWDs in America, is something we will never know, but there were several breeders in the Bay Area at that time, and she much resembled the specific line of California-bred dogs that had later given rise to Madeira.
Eris' twilight years were happy. She was deaf as a post, but cat, who had worked sheep and goats with a wonderful Border Collie named Hasha during her life as a rural communard at The Garden of Joy Blues in the 1970s, taught her the standard BC hand signals, and she seemed eager and grateful to learn them, adding them to the rudimentary signals she and siva were already exchanging.
When Eris died, in 2002, at the age of 14 1/2 or 15, the world lost a beautiful being. She was buried by the back door of the house, and her funeral was attended by her loving pack-mates siva and cat, and her friend Kitty Boy Floyd the Outlaw, a feral cat with whom she'd often shared a meal.