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Archive for the ‘fauna’ Category

Rosie didn’t wait long to make her impact on our family. As we drove down the mountainside from the Costa Rican farm where we had picked up our second puppy, Rosie urped up the better part of a whole chicken in the back of my Toyota Landcruiser. We stopped in the plaza of the first town, two giggly boys and I pushing the enormous cargo of regurgitated fowl out the door and into the street as we struggled to keep trembling little Rosie wrapped in her brand new comfort blanket.

It was the first of many family moments at which Rosie was front and center. (more…)

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My two Rhodesian Ridgebacks and one Labrador Retriever are no pushovers.

Even other varieties of highly regarded Canidae food have left them looking up at me over lightly rearranged bowls of food with that ‘Why have you turned against us again?’ look. (more…)

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Our two Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not particularly determined chewers. Yet every once in a while, always while no humans are home, the Spirit of Chewing visits our abode. Havoc ensues.

After trying all manner of cheaper alternatives, we settled upon the Orvis TouchChew Dog’s Nest bed, one oval the other rectangular.

Problem solved. Rosie and Sammy love their new beds—although their embroidered names have not proved to them persuasively which dog belongs in which bed.

Better yet, the Chew Spirits have fled, frustrated—nay, vanquished!—from the neighborhood.

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Chipmunks are the garbage fish of suburban backyards. They are the bottom-feeding carp to, say, the smallmouth bass that is the inventive squirrel or the rainbow trout whose role is filled by the Northern Cardinal. A fallen Blue Jay may merit a sigh as we carry his defunct body tenderly to the garbage can. But nobody mourns a fallen chipmunk.

This common rodent expires unmourned while creating only slightly greater cosmic ripples than a squashed mosquito.

Until today. On this cool, blue-skied Spring afternoon in Indianapolis, crippled Sammy chased chipmunks as they darted among the logs of our wood-pile. Actually, he didn’t so much chase them in space and time as he intended to chase them with all his canine soul.

Rosie, his older Rhodesian Ridgeback sister, started the ball rolling, bending her muscular agility to the never-successful task of tracking the little rodents with her customary acrobatics. Sammy, barely up from the edges of the grave that threatened to devour him just days ago, lurched over on his three functioning legs to the scene of the unfolding drama.

Blindness and a 75%-rate of working limbs was not to deter this stalwart lad from making his futile stab at rodent mayhem. In some rough-and-ready choreography with Ridgeback sister Rosie, the Samsters stumbled this way and that, hinting at aggressive exertions in the direction of chipmunk prey even if his mind was much more the actor than his now-crippled body.

This boy has spirit. Custodians of the ground squirrel population of the American Midwest need not fret. Sammy will not soon be despoiling chipmunk families.

But, boy, would he like to! And that, for today, is enough.

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Two experienced veterinarians in a room at our beloved Michigan Road Animal Hospital expressed astonishment at the dog Johnny and I brought in to see them this evening. Dr. Fletcher, looked twice toward the heavens, in gratitude. ‘Es casi milagrosa‘—’it’s almost miraculous’—she says to me. Language, loss, and renewed hope each bond people.

Dr K, who saw Sammy last Friday in his extremity, rises to the occasion. Sammy’s left front leg is useless but he has learned to lurch around without its help. Regaining his canine emotional balance, he even made some pathetic but joy-worthy attempts to snap at his sister Rosie as she ran laps around him this afternoon.

The boy is fighting back.

He’s going to make it.

Sammy is not out of the woods. Yet he is proving before our watching eyes what loving care and a dog’s refusal to give in can do against calamity’s claims.

Sammy wants to play. Good grief, he wants to play.

He cannot, of course. His legs will not carry him to it. Yet he wants to play. Something tells me he will have his way.

There is joy in Mudville this evening. The fat lady is swallowing hard, trembling with stage fright, suddenly, undeniably unsure of her task.

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I could tell by the trembly edge in my wife’s voice over the phone that the news was bad. Catching me early on the last day of a business trip, she reported that Sammy’s wanderlust had finally got him into deep trouble.

His nocturnal adventures in our back yard had morphed into a determined and ultimately successful effort to squeeze through the gap in our neighbor’s half-fallen fence and being the unchaperoned wanderings in the neighborhood that would prove his undoing. When Sammy didn’t appear for his breakfast at 6:30, Linda had awakened Lucas in a bid to outnumber the sickening possibilities a blind dog might encounter on his own in the night. (more…)

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Eight months have now stumbled past since Sammy came to be a provisional part of our family, then a probable member of our family, and finally a non-adjectivized fixture on the leather couch in the ‘Red Room’, where family and friends occasionally assemble themselves among the recumbent canines to watch football games and re-runs of 24.

The Samsters has become a remarkably self-confident creature. He is possessed of that well-honed indifference to norms that characterizes self-assured creatures on both sides of the human-nonhuman perforation that helps reassure those of us who read blogs and, for that matter, read anything that we still cling to our position at the top of the biological heap. (more…)

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