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Archive for the ‘fauna’ Category

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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Today was a great day at work. The team is energized, the projects are queued up, the camaraderie is palpable. Even the soup and salad at the Olive Garden seemed peculiarly flavorful to my colleague Rick and me on this late summer day in Indianapolis, where the air feels uncommonly autumnal.

Quitting time came early. I could have stayed longer.

‘Cept for Sammy, whom I could hardly wait to see. He welcomed me home with a slightly more erect posture than the slumping, fearful gait with which he began his life under our roof. My wife was on the phone with the rescue volunteer, reporting in on his progress, gleaning some new facts. (more…)

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The tectonic plates of the soul launched one giant sigh of relief when Sammy walked outside and peed for the first time. When he nailed his first dumper in the grass by the bird feeder, the rejoicing could be heard clear across town.

The unthinkable ‘what if …?’ still haunts my more brooding moments. (more…)

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Despite the best efforts our über-athletic Rhodesian Ridgeback Rosie and her erstwhile companion Dear Departed Tucker, the fact remains: our yard is full of squirrels. The day-to-day canine v. rodent skirmish over those green square yards ends with an unchanging outcome whose monotony seems somehow not to dampen the participants’ enthusiasm: squirrel safe again!

Enter Sammy, our newly adopted blind Rhodesian Ridgeback. The threat level, squirrels everywhere might reasonably have concluded, has decreased with the arrival of this helpless, unseeing, gentle dog. (more…)

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Sammy, whose weekend name change from clichéd ‘Simba’ to the humbler diminutive of ‘Sam’ more accurately reflects Midwestern modesty, is a high-stepper. When you’re blind, I suppose, you take whatever measures are necessary. When on unfamiliar turf—which appears to have been Sammy’s lot from birth—and you can’t see it in front of you, you step high as though marching in the hope that your feet will find the terrain’s irregularity before your nose bumps into it.

This, at least, is one of Sammy’s ways of negotiating his fate. (more…)

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This is Day Two in the story of a rescued Rhodesian Ridgeback who came to us Saturday afternoon under the name ‘Simba’. Day One was too busy for words.

Nobody knows if Simba is truly the name of this emaciated, scared dog brought to us in response to several phone calls by a caring rescuer volunteer.

In fact, nobody knows anything about Simba except this one thing. Simba is blind. (more…)

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Tucker leaves us

Tucker left us this week just as he came and just as he lived with us: completely trusting our judgment, celebrating our company, gratefully accompanying us wherever we led him.

The trend line of his cancer tilted downward at a deeper angle in these last weeks. Though he seemed as happy and almost as energetic as ever, the losing battle to keep his face and our home clean from the massive tumor’s debris taxed him and us. We lit scented candles against the odor of death. It became harder and harder to cuddle him. He seemed to protect us from the affected side of his face, but his suffering was palpable and things were not going to improve. (more…)

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