Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dog Lovers

I've been fighting a particularly virulent upper respiratory infection. When I call my 80+ year old library angel, I tell her,

"We won't be culling any books today. I'm not well."

"Did I give it to you?" she asks.

"Yeah, but I won't tell anyone."

I send Dawn to the library to copy a document. My library angel sends a book home with Dawn. The Last Dog On The Hill by Steve Duno. When she's sick, I bring soup. She gives me books to calm me down and rest. It's hard for me to do nothing.

"He may need some reading material," she tells Dawn.

I'm halfway through the fascinating book which chronicles the life of an amazing dog named Lou. Adding personal details about his life, Steve Duno relates interesting anecdotes about living in California. I'm at the part where he's about to move to Seattle. Duno finds the six month old Rottweiler/Shepard mix on a trip to Northern California. The puppy is infested with fleas, over 50 ticks and has an infected wound on his neck. Duno rescues the dog and immediately drives to the closest vet who tells Steve,

"This dog would have been dead in six months."

Lou has foiled a Seven Eleven robbery, survived an encounter with a rattlesnake, made friends with Daryl Hannah, destroyed more things than Marly and charms gang members and reluctant apartment managers alike.

The other night, I wake up wheezing. I can't breathe. Leaping out of bed, I struggle for air feeling like I'd swallowed a nacho chip down the wrong pipe. Both Mandy and the Pooch run to the hallway where I'm desperately trying to clear my airway. Dawn switches on the bedroom light. "I'm all right, I tell all three."

"Do you remember when Mandy was as little as the picture above?" I mentally ask Dawn who's at work right now. She may be reading this on a break later in the afternoon. When she gets home, we'll marvel at the changes.

My mind strays to the encounter between Mandy and my only granddaughter over a year ago. The granddaughter shrieks in mock fear when Mandy approaches. A consummate actor at age four, Dawn does a tarot reading when the kid is born. The tarot says she'll be a handful. We see the beginnings of manipulative behavior where she refuses to eat a normal meal. Mom feeds her crackers a short time later. Riding in the back seat of a car, she wants to be the center of attention. To achieve this she has to raise the decibel level of singing to drown out the conversation between adults.

Mom reassures me before they come for a visit that the child will be OK around our six month old puppy. She has friends with dogs. I spend most of my time try to train the curious dog from jumping on a shrieking child. Later, I learn from my son that the parents don't like dogs.

I understand why someone would choose not to raise a dog or cat. But not liking dogs is another story. In a blog I follow, a UW-Madison professor debunks supposedly factual testaments of media hype about dogs carrying diseases. She classifies one such story as a corollary. For more information, I suggest booting up www.theotherendoftheleash.com.

My first teaching assignment was a fourth grade classroom in the most inner part of the inner city. I lived on a farm. I'd bring a chicken into the classroom to enrich their lives and find numerous teaching assistants-mostly local residents-terrified of the chicken. Fear of snarling inner city dogs I can comprehend. These same kids, I'd gather on weekends and bring them out to the farm. It was difficult to get them back to their homes after the short one day trip in the country.

The Pooch spends his nights hunting a mouse in the house. Dawn says she can hear his claws scurrying around on the kitchen linoleum. Over the weekend, I cornered the mouse on the first floor bathroom, only to have him escape into my office. The silver lining in that cloud is a completely reorganized office with clear access for the cat into the closet and around furniture. In the evening he'll spend an hour snoozing on a bed on the laundry table in the basement or lounging on a carpet in front of the washer. It's been two days now and I'm surprised that he hasn't left us a gift of mouse on the kitchen floor. It may be one smart mouse or as Dawn says,
"He probably ate the thing."

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