A Lone and Lost Boston Terrier

I started out on my canal-side bike ride today as I often do on Sundays. Today I had to negotiate between rain showers and actually caught our brief hour of sunlight. I hadn’t gone far when I saw something black and white on the path a ways ahead. Skunk? That was my first thought. Cat? Didn’t move like one. Dog? Yep. Boston Terrier? Damn – yes.

Some of you know that BTs are my dog of choice, but regardless of what breed, this was a tiny little dog on the run and I was thus compelled to do something about it.

I tried, I really, really tried. I parked my bike as well as held up some approaching bikers. I approached him, but every time I did, and I never did manage to get close, he took off, and he covered one heck of a lot of territory – on the path, off the path and into the woods, back on, off again.  Crushed, I went on with the rest of my ride on which I was miserable, peddling way faster than usual, hoping I’d see him again on the way back.

Close to the area where I first saw him, a biker passed me and just ahead of the biker was the little BT. Please stop, I wished. He didn’t, and the little BT, who looked to have been resting on the walkway, took off again. I tried.

Home. Lunch – a gulped affair. I scoured the frig for something enticing to a small BT– chicken! I hopped in my car and drove down to the path. I headed down it – no one was around. Maybe. I dropped pieces of chicken hoping the smell would attract him. Nothing. On I walked. Nothing.

Now my thoughts are running rampant with all the awful, tragic possibilities though I am trying real hard to be hopeful. I will go back there – maybe tonight, tomorrow for sure, treats in hand, hoping that a little lost Boston Terrier will find love, safety and warmth.

A Dog’s Eye

Timmy's Eyes Now Open
Timmy’s Eyes Now Open

A dog’s eye is prone to injury and infection, especially so for bulge-eye breeds such as pugs, boxers, Boston terriers, Pekingese and others. We have Boston Terriers, and about five days ago, the littlest (and oldest) one came in from a backyard romp yelping any time someone went near his eye. It looked swollen, so I put a cold cloth on it which seemed to help – a lot! But then a few days later I noticed an oozing slit where his left eye was supposed to be.  In addition, his behavior was ‘off,’ as in more tired and droopy in general.

I scooped all 10 pounds of him up in my arms and off to the vet we went. All the way there I harbored visions that he would lose his eye or need advanced and complicated surgery due to an eye ulceration or worse.  The verdict: an eye infection, better known as conjunctivitis. Our beloved vet, I’ve been going to him for 20 years, sent us home with a small vial of eye drops, and 3 days later, our little Timothy is clearly on the way to recovery. Phew.

We have always had animals, ever since I was on my own and out of the pristine house where a spec on the carpet wasn’t tolerated let alone any happy, tail-wagging  or leg-rubbing creatures. Each and every one of my pets holds a precious place in my heart. But now that I am graying (I am into the natural look and can’t be bothered with the rigors of hair coloration et al), and my human-children have flown the coop, my canine, equine and avian creatures have become my babies even more so than before.

I’ve always seen pets as every bit as important as any other living being, but my emotional attachment to them is now  far greater. I surmise this is a function of being older, wiser, and having more time for them. Or is it a function of days passed when I overlooked them in my hurry to go to work, deal with soccer and baseball games, and do all the other things a household filled with kids requires? Probably.

Now I treasure the simplicity of life and wonderful evenings with the total warmth of having one of my dogs ensconced in my lap while the other two snuggle as close as they can be on either side of me. I love the vigor of a long walk with one or two (can’t handle three) of them prancing along beside or in front of me. And the ultimate is the security of having them warm the bed beside me, two lined up on one side and the third at my toes.

There is only one bad part, and you all know what that is. It is something I cannot write or talk about because I want to love and cherish every moment I have with them right now.

Buzzy’s Got My Number

100_2157Sigh. Yep – he sure does. I just got home from what I’d planned to be a Zen ride when it in fact ended up being a stressful ride.

Buzzy is my little former harness racehorse and for 10 years now, we’ve been working on understanding the word ‘slow.’ Actually, Buzzy is a complete contradiction in terms because at the walk he is my very own snail while at the trot, he goes like freight-train engine in fast forward. But today, when we did our ring work, he was phenomenal: I actually succeeded in getting a Western jog from him. His head hung nice and low, he propelled from his butt end, and he was comfy, slow, and smooth. Smooth is a big deal because Buzzy is NOT smooth – most of the time. Riding him is like riding in a car that is traveling on rocks, you know, like the commercials with those 4 x 4’s that climb mountains? Yup.

Like I said, today he was my own little cow-pony, and because he did so wonderfully well in the arena, I cut the drills short and headed for the trail. Let the fun begin. My Zen deteriorated into a ‘discussion’ into which I did NOT want to engage, but as it is with horses and riders, I really HAD to or I would be essentially handing the reins over to my horse.

Well, it wasn’t a complete victory – for me, that is –but enough that I felt I’d made my point – sort of.

And then, once again in my life, serendipity strikes. No sooner do I come home and collapse in front of my computer than I come across this: Your Best Horse Relationship: Discipline. In it you’ll find this quote, originally by Robin Shen:

If I discipline my horse, my horse will discipline me, but if I discipline myself, my horse will do the same. 

After watching this short flick, I cringe, thinking of kicking and yelling at Buzzy when he wanted to turn around and come home today.  Next time I need to find the key to exert my own self-discipline so Buzzy can then find his own key and keyhole.

I don’t believe in coincidences.

To be continued!

Animals in the Belly of the Asiana Airlines Plane

airplane-bellyI am obsessed. I am obsessed, as I often am by these things, by the Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 crash that occurred in San Francisco yesterday. I found out about it from my dear friend Karen who texted me while I was thrift-shopping  around on this summer Saturday afternoon.. I rushed home and switched on CNN while Karen and I went back and forth by text.

“Did you see the smoke?” I wrote. She lives right across the SF Bay from the airport.

“No,” she wrote back.

And so I went on to learn all that I could learn, and even more so today.  I learned about the injured and the two 16-year old girls who died. I learned about the survivors and those who walked away with a bruise, or not, and most likely a psyche forever scared and plagued with PTSD. I learned about how the plane broke apart when it hit the seawall.

But what about the animals? When these things happen, we never hear about the animals that are stowed away beneath in the belly of these great behemoth crafts. How many were there? Dogs? Cats? Horses? Did they survive? Were they rescued? Will they too be forever plagued with terror, turned into trembling remnants of the creatures they once were?

And so I ask, why don’t we hear about them? Why isn’t there a count of how many of them were on board? Where is the accounting for their humble little lives? Why are their lives seemingly not valued?

I want to know.  I want to know because I am obsessed. I want to know because I love animals.

Rudy Came Running

Ginger SnapsA week ago I wrote about a sweet little mule named Rudy. Rudy has been at our barn ever since I got there some  six years ago, a timid little creature that darted off  in terror at the slightest advance of humanity and was at the bottom of the hierarchy among the three minis with whom he pastured.  Little by little over the last year I have offered him bits and pieces of grass, hay and hands-full of oats. The process was long and tedious, requiring great gobs of patience and hope for this beautiful, sweet and soft-eyed fellow.

Then we discovered Ginger Snaps! I’ve been treating my boy Buzzy with Ginger Snaps for years now and he gobbles them greedily and with great gusto. I decided to see if Rudy had the same reaction. He did, and he finally he came forth, albeit arching his neck to keep his body as far as possible so he could stretch and get the Ginger Snap out of my hand.  This boy is as gentle as they come, taking the  Ginger Snap ever so carefully with his soft lips before running off, only now he doesn’t run off, and now he actually comes to the fence when he sees me or hears my voice.

Then yesterday – Rudy came running!! To me this was a reward and joy beyond words! I went to the gait to look for him, and he had just finished a muddy roll at the far end of the pasture.

“Rudy,” I called.

He looked,  got up, sounded his musical mule bray, and came running to me!! I wanted to give him the whole box of Ginger Snaps but had to save a few for my Buzz.

I may never get much further with this boy, but to give a little ‘feral’ mule some love and a few Ginger Snaps fills me with true joy and happiness.

The Old Man Gardener and His Little Black Dog

old man gardenI am an outdoor junkie, even if it means going for a bicycle ride or jog around my very-suburban neighborhood. Being the creature of habit that I am, I stick to three or four tried and true routes and I take comfort in watching the ebb and flow of people who live in the houses I pass. I have done this for all my adult life. I have been in my current neighborhood for 10 years and one of my routes takes me past the fields under the major power grid coming into our city. These fields are long and empty except where an old man has planted a perfectly plotted and aligned ‘farm’ filled with corn, tomatoes, sunflowers,  pumpkins, zucchini, eggplant and so much more. Every time I pedaled or jogged past his farm, I’d see him, bent over – pulling weeds, or planting something new, or just plain playing in the dirt. He was shy, or maybe anti-social, but I wondered how someone who could create such mastery from the earth could be anything but special, and so I always made a point to say “Hi.” He always responded. And so did the little black puff-ball of a dog who thumped-thumped his tail in canine greeting.

Every year I look forward to spring when he tills the soil and begins the process of bringing the earth to life again. Every year I look forward to seeing him hunched over the dirt with his little black dog lying dutifully next to him. Only this year — the garden isn’t there anymore. Oh,  well, the rows of dirt are there – empty. The stool he sat on is gone. The little dog, Thumper I got to think of him as, is nowhere to be seen. Instead, there is a hole,  not filled with dirt or seed or plants, but a sort of empty pit inside of me that sorely misses my old man gardener and his little black dog, who once filled my days with the precious joys of simple pleasures,

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