“It must be spring.”
The birds are singing. The crocuses are blooming. The squirrels are friskily playing in my daughter’s fairy garden… Oh, Wait! That’s not playing. They’re practically setting up a house of ill-repute in our backyard.Great, just what we need, more little baby squirrels looking for ways to get into our
Animals, no matter how cute, are messy. They dig where they shouldn’t, leave fur and feathers and all kinds of debris behind them, chew on stuff (like wires, ahem), and taunt my dog (who is clearly more person than animal). They represent the natural world, where things do not go according to plan and chaos seems imminent; a natural world from which modern society has created distance.
Disney solved this by hiring bunches of employees to sweep up after nature and by anthropomorphizing animals. Our food chain contains more cello wrap and Styrofoam than animal product. There are multitudes of sites whose whole purpose is to convince us to rid ourselves of spiders, moles, mice, and pigeons while others show us how to create elaborate indoor homes for rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and snakes.
I dream of someday living in Italy for a year. I picture myself picking olives and learning how to make olive oil to pour over the fresh heirloom tomatoes grown in my own orto
, garden. But nowhere in that vision do I see myself picking spiders out of my hair after shaking the olives from the tree; nor fighting with slugs intent on eating my tomatoes. In my idealized version of Italy the dirt of the natural world is contained to the ground, and not on my
At 10,000 feet I imagine the messiness of the world blurs into perfection. Time allows me to see that the cycle of life might look chaotic but is actually an amazing choreography of interconnected dependencies. So while my first instinct is to call the squirrel whisperer from blog posts past (link
), as I stare out at the squirrels making a little love nest, I know my only choice is acceptance.
“It’s good karma.
It was kind of the firefighters to stand in the rain with me while I waited for a public service person (aka police officer) to arrive and take care of the dog I had found wandering, lost, cold, and limping along a neighborhood road. Given the fact that the dog was also blind and had what was obviously a tumor on her stomach and hind leg, it was no wonder she looked worn out and sad.
The firefighters hung out with me and my daughter for at least half an hour, until eventually the police officer came to claim the dog. After slowly walking her up and down the road and offering the dog reassurances for that time I found it difficult to see the police car door shut, with her confused once again inside.
“It will be okay,”
I told her, all the while knowing that, without a collar and looking so sick, chances were good they would not find an owner and she would be euthanized. In fact, as my daughter and I prepared to get in the car and leave, the officer asked if I would like to be notified before they euthanized. I shook my head hesitantly, sadly, guiltily.
Of course it only took a moment for my daughter to ask what euthanize
meant. Most Catholics do not believe that animals have souls. And so, they would not go to heaven. This is one doctrine, though, about which I am not sure. Of all God’s creatures animals seem the most holy to me sometimes. Certainly this dog did, as she limped along maintaining her dignity even as I think she sensed her own death. Perhaps she had faith, as I explained to my daughter, that she would soon be in a better place.
I am not sure what that place looks like, either for myself or for that dog. It may be as W. Bruce Cameron fictionalizes in his book, A DOG’S PURPOSE
, that she will come back again, to live another new life as a dog. Or perhaps, Like the animals in C.S. Lewis’ NARNIA series, she will pass over to a better place.
Wherever she lands I hope that her body was at least able to sense what her eyes could not see, that for even a brief time she was loved, by three firefighters, an eight year old, and me.
“Wrapping each other up in towels and cramming themselves into the laundry baskets may be fun, but it’s not really sustainable fun.”
My sister and I were talking about our Thanksgiving dinner but I found I had to keep raising my voice to be heard over the mayhem occurring in the background of her house. As usual, with a family of six, there was a stack of laundry that needed sorting and folding. However from what I could hear on my end of the phone it sounded like every time she made a pile, one of the kids or family pets would ruin it. Definitely not sustainable fun!
I was intrigued by this phrase though, wondering if it might capture a whole new parenting vocabulary. Not just sustainable fun but also sustainable work or schedule or communication or friendship. At my daughter’s age of eight few ideas stay sustainable.
For example, she recently decided to help feed our dog. In concept, fantastic. In reality, one forgotten meal and the plan was dumped. Definitely not sustainable.
Or we decided at one point that rather than argue about things that made her unhappy we would pay attention when she raised her hand and discuss it logically, reaching a decision after hearing from her. I think it was the conversation that went something like; “It’s time to,” hand raised and discussion. “I was not going to say homework, I was going to say brush hair,” hand raised and discussion. “If you are willing to go out like that,”hand raised and discussion. “Yes, we still have to go to church.” Hand raised and discussion. … You get the idea. After half an hour of this I had completely forgotten my original request, we were late to church, and she still didn’t have her hair brushed or know what the consequence would be. Definitely not a sustainable plan.
Sustainability, whether in our energy plans or in our families, takes a future view that is not always easy to see through the murk of our everyday lives. We want what we want when we want it. Still, it is a goal worth pursuing. A sustainable goal, if you will.
My sister eventually did make it out of her house, ready for an activity that wouldn’t leave her house in shambles or one of her children in tears. The laundry, however, is still sitting there.
“Researchers are experimenting with feeding squirrels birth control.”
Sign me up! Due to the mild winter and a bumper crop of nuts the squirrel population is exploding. Researchers
could look no further than my backyard for evidence of this. I’ve got a family of squirrels that seems to be multiplying like crazy.
But what to do about them? I have joked with my husband that it could be good practice for my archery skills (though I don’t think I am quite good enough to hit one yet and I’m pretty sure animal control and PEETA from on
this). So birth control sounds like a more reasonable approach.
Still, as one person commented on the NPR transcript… since we can’t even figure out whether birth control is morally ok for humans, should we be giving it to squirrels? A new gallup pole has found, in fact, that social issues like birth control and abortion are top issues during this election for women in swing states. So birth control for rodents might be walking a fine line.
On the precedence side I’m pretty sure we do
already spray fruit flies to keep them from propagating. Is it that big of a leap to go to squirrels? And then, if not…. There are quite a few countries I have heard of where wild cats and dogs are a huge nuisance. Take, for example, this article in the NY Times
Ohhhh, and such a cute picture.
You wouldn’t want to stop this dog from having a little litter of puppies, would you?
Apparently India also has a problem with nuisance monkeys. And, you’ll see from this article they are
taking procreation out of the monkey’s hands:Metro News:nuisance-monkeys-captured-and-neutered-in-india
So, where does this leave us with the squirrels? Perhaps if we gave them a choice they would appreciate the birth control option. After all, the mommy and daddy squirrel in my backyard can’t be too happy that there are now
three little extra squirrels competing for our BBQ scraps and my dog’s attention.
“What do you think that type of body was built for… Cirque de Soleil?”
The funny part about this conversation was that it was a mom talking about her baby. Not being able to see the baby, I could only imagine what made her think this… was it extra long arms? Early muscular development….
Skin that could break into flame on command?
I have always found it interesting that the physique and personality of dogs are so tied to the jobs they were bred for. Ever try to run away from a small dog and get your heels nipped… yep, that’s a ratter (going back to 17th century dogs like the Brussels Griffon were bred to rid the home of vermin). How about swimming around an Australian shepherd… it drives them crazy because they were bred to keep livestock together.
The question I have is whether humans have ancestral traits not exactly bred into them, but as a result of their geographical roots. I guess it is like the idea of Darwinism… that over time we adapt based on the challenges
of time and place. So that eventually, I suppose if the iPhone is around long enough we will all begin to have thumbs that are smaller than the rest of our fingers.
And then what of the significant traits my daughter possesses? Both what I would consider the good and the bad. Like her amazing imagination or overly strong will. Seen in this light I wonder if these qualities that I judge
are all designed to give her the best chance of succeeding in this world… Maybe she even inherited some of them from me; after all, I can see where these would be useful to a writer.
Then again, perhaps they are just the traits she needs to become an amazing a Cirque de Soleil performer.
“Crikey, that dog looks just like Sirius Black.”
The huge black dog lugged itself out of the little stream while we and our visiting friends from England quickly scampered out of its way. It looked entirely gentle (unlike Padfoot), but none of us wanted to be in its line
of fire when it began to shake.
Having our British friends visiting is like living in an episode of Harry Potter. The reference for all things, especially to the 7 year old, is either the book, the film or the studio tour
they recently went on in Leavesden, England.
Our daughter’s request for rainbow sherbet leads to a question of its similarity to Dumbledore’s favorite candy, lemon sherbet. A ride in the car on the road up the mountain involves a comparison of the Weasley’s flying Ford
Anglia. This is a family you would never want to play the Harry Potter trivial pursuit game with!
The good news is that I am a fan…. both of Harry Potter and of my wonderful British friends. The even better news is that every little tidbit they drop goes into my running inventory of British expressions for use in my next novel. Something which is almost as good as being able to apparate over to England… and certainly much more useful than being able to transform into a humongous, hairy, black dog.
The animal actor and the
“Do you think pepperoni is too spicy for him?”
What is it about a lost dog that makes me drop everything to help? I’m totally not kidding. In this case we were on our way to get frozen yogurt and instead I found myself trying to befriend a scared stray wandering the parking lot.
About 5 years ago, when my daughter would still have been in a car seat, I literally jumped out of the car on a freeway (traffic was at a standstill) to try to grab a dog who was trapped on it. It was only after my unsuccessful attempts (and almost getting hit by a huge truck) that I returned to my car and realized my daughter had been left alone while I tried to save the dog.
As with the freeway incident, I did everything I could to help the parking lot dog last night. I called animal control, waited with another family (who were trying to lure it with the pepperoni) and then chased down a police car to come help. Meanwhile the stray skittered by me and escaped.
There is something about not knowing what happened to either of those dogs that seems to steal a little part of me. If I could save the world, one dog at a time, I suppose I would. But experience has also taught me that, just like those dogs, some situations are out of my control. Still… I can’t help but try.
Sooo… if you are missing a medium sized, black and tan, male terrier of some sort in the area around West Linn, OR check with the police. Last I saw of him he was heading to the back door of the pizza place, looking for more pepperoni.
Sort of looked like these little guys...
Only had more black coloring.
The incessant barking of a dog.
With the weather finally turning nice here in Portland (we always have to wait till after the 4th of July for it to do so:>) we were finally able to sit outside and enjoy our iced lattes. My daughter was playing with her friends while the mom and I caught up about some important news.
And yet… it was almost impossible to hear over, and certainly no way to ignore, the loud barking of the anxious dog whose owner had left him to go in and get his own drink. My pet mommy heart-strings were pulled… particularly as it made me wonder if that is what our own dog, Summer, had been like on our recent trip to Tahoe.
It is true…. The older she gets the grumpier and more demanding she becomes. If she wants to sit, cuddled up in her spot next to me, I better not even consider having the computer there. And heaven forbid you try to move
her if she is asleep and comfortable. When we have friends over she sits, staring pathetically at them when they have unknowingly taken her favorite spot on the couch, until they move. And dinner time happens on her schedule not ours. She has become a type A dog.
She’s never been a particularly gracious dog. I know some dogs would do anything for their master; but not Summer. Don’t get me wrong, it is clear she loves us (me especially) but she has a certain level of expectation
that she wants met… not unlike a cat – albeit a very nice one.
Still, until recently she has been complacent enough to remain in her pen when we leave and put her there. Tahoe, however was different. Her anxiety at being left gave her the courage to jump out…. Something she has never
done before. Anxiety is funny that way… sometimes it can provide the inspiration we need to attempt something we’ve never dreamed of. It is both a limiter as well as a motivator.
It didn’t take long for the owner to come out and yell at the dog to be quiet… which may not have been the attention he was looking for but at least reassured him he hadn’t been left for good.
I’d love to write more about the challenge of negative attention and kids, but it will have to wait. Summer is pushing the computer off my lap and wants her cuddle spot.