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Archive for the ‘fauna’ Category

With the size and appearance of a slimmed-down Reader’s Digest, the less famous Bird Watcher’s Digest is a chirpy little optimist of a magazine not so very different from, say, a black-capped chickadee.

Short and moderate-sized articles cover specific species, how-to/techniques, choosing the right birding equipment, and joy-of-birding anecdotes.

Advertisements abound but do not overwhelm. Some are quite helpful.

BWD is a perky standard for birders both casual and serious.

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Now these many months on from the Saturday morning he came to us as a quivering shadow of himself, Sammy has become a jostling, tail-wagging mainstay of the family mix. Take stairs, for example.

Stairs are everywhere in this 1930s-vintage house of ours. Two sets of the things lie between the basement (where Dogs Sleep and Dad Works), one outside and one inside. Then there are the stairs that take us from the ground floor to the second, where People and the Cat Sleep and where Dogs Must Not Go. (more…)

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I returned last evening from London to find Sammy racing up and down the basement steps beside Rosie, eager to greet his returning master. ‘Racing’ in this context begs some qualifiers. Perhaps ‘moving briskly’ is more to the point.

No longer plagued by the fear of falling down stairs, he moves up and down them with resolution rather than fear. (more…)

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At times like, this the idea of wandering down to the kitchen for a midnight snack of olives becomes a very bad idea indeed.

Sammy’s eyes, you see, are in there. Tupperware never served a nobler purpose. (more…)

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When we agreed to foster Sammy, we were making a Faustian bargain with our own inclination toward loving dogs. We knew deep inside, though the unspoken pact required that the agreement never be mentioned in conversation, that we could never ‘give him back’. It was a clandestine adoption, an under-the-table bargain by which Sammy would instantly become a member of the family while we politely lied to ourselves that any such thing was happening. It was a rescue disguised as a holding pattern. He would be ours, but under the fiction that he was not. From time to time, the language of ‘returning him’ surfaced in a hypothetical way, though we both knew that there was not a them out there to whose company Sammy could be restored if things didn’t work out.

It was a most amenable fiction. It was the whitest of lies. (more…)

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Returning home late last evening, I had only a short time of daylight for my long-awaited frolic with Sammy on the front lawn. To my utter surprise, he trotted over to me and, when obeying his favorite commands to sit, give me his paw, and lie down in the grass, he tussled with me.

It was unmistakable. In the well-known Ridgeback way, he pushed at me with his paw a few times, then took my forearm in his teeth and ‘mouthed’ me in the way his kind do. It was utter, anticipated playfulness and a new uptick in the trendline of awakening that the boy is experiencing.

I could almost hear the Samsters humming along with Cat Stevens to the tune of that good, old melody ‘Peace Train':

Now I’ve been happy lately,
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun

Oh I’ve been smiling lately,
dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be,
some day it’s going to come

Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again

Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again

The world is not quite as nasty as he had believed. Sammy is no longer enveloped in darkness, just trotting probingly along its edge.

The boy is going to make it.

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Like the cheetah, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is capable of remarkable speeds in short bursts. It’s no accident that the sport of lure coursing is popular with owners of Ridgebacks rather than, say, Corgis.

Indianapolis’ marvelous Holliday Park, with its network of wooded trails and open spaces, provides just the spot for those of us fortunate enough to live on its margins to walk and run our dogs. The fast ones as well as the less accelerated varieties stretch their legs there with us as we loosen up our own ever-stiffening limbs. Strictly speaking, the Park is governed by an unbending leash law. Among the neighborhood’s responsible dog owners, a gentlemen’s pact seems to prevail: nice doggies can run free on the woods and tracks, then be properly leashed up when one emerges into the daylight where picnickers and roller bladers predominate and, in their wildest fears, get savagely bitten by our mutts.

I took blind Sammy on his first tour of Holliday Park last evening, at least his first under my tutelage. My wife had led him there a day earlier, duly instructing me afterwards on the itinerary that would legislate Sammy’s wanderings until he’s mastered its trails and steps and is ready to move on to more complex adventures. (more…)

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