I was on my hands and knees in the side garden yard, enjoying one of the activities that my frame can currently do without a painful toll. Suddenly there was a great commotion—thrashing and barking—in the back yard where Conrad was weeding.
I looked up and saw one of our feral cats hustling up the side of a small tree. Getting to my feet, which took a while, I went around the corner and saw Conrad at the far side of the back yard with a little dachshund nestled in his arms. There had been two, but the other hadn’t stuck around.
We calmed and stroked the little beast and looked at the collar tag. It was an old tag and hard to read, but there was a phone number and an address. Good. I went into the house and called the phone number. The voice mail just said leave a message, saying nothing about a lost dog. The address turned out to be miles away, in Forestville.
I left a message, and asked to get a reply if this wasn’t a lost-dog owner, so that we could look further. Then I started calling all our near neighbors, asking if anybody knew somebody who had two dachshunds. Our little guest’s name appeared to be “Pistol,” and we took him into the house and offered him water and cat chow. He wasn’t interested, but he did stop shivering.
All this started late afternoon, and we had a full work schedule booked for the evening, but our guest disrupted those plans. At first we put him in the bathroom with newspapers for relief and water and dog food for his other needs. (Bless our neighbor who contributed small-dog kibble.) But he was unhappy there, and I got a couple of floor-towels and made a nest for him on my lap, figuring that I could easily sit on the floor and edit the printout of our latest novel chapter with a doxie on my lap.
He warmed to this idea immediately, and made himself happy by sticking his little brown nose under the top towel and wiggling himself into the terry-cloth cave. Dachshund burrito.
Hours went by, with myself leaving more messages on the collar’s phone number, and then calling Animal Control to say that we had a lost dog (again a message, this being after-hours on Friday evening.)
Pistol got more confident as the evening wore on, and we got one of our touring table-tops to block the office doorway so that we could keep track of him. Eventually he ate some of the kibble. Conrad went into the living room to sit and do some editing while I stayed in the office. Pistol had evidently bonded with Conrad from the git-go, and just sat up on his hinders with his paws in the air, begging to be reunited with his significant other.
At 11 PM, I finally got a call. The lady had gone on a camping trip with her daughter, and had only just now collected her messages. Yes, Pistol was her dog, and her house was at the end of the dead-end street behind ours. They had moved but hadn’t updated the tag. Her husband was home. She told us how to open their side gate and said there was a doggie door for Pistol to get into the house. Not wanting to keep him howling overnight in the bathroom, we got him home by 11:30.
At 7:30 the next morning we got a call from the at-home husband, who was profoundly grateful to find his missing dog. Pistol hadn’t wakened him to announce his return, so the poor man had spent a sleepless night mourning his dog, fearing him to be flattened on the road. (The brother doxie had returned alone.)
I give great thanks to all the multiple neighbors I called in my search, and to my friend who loaned me kibble, and to this sweet little four-legged who placed himself in our care for the evening. And to Animal Control, who would have come to collect Pistol in the morning. I called them to say all was well. It was nice to have a dog again, briefly.
—From the Fool—
I read a blog on how to do a blog. One thing to do, it said, is offer some how-to stuff. Like advice about sky-diving, but something that shows more expertise than just, “Don’t do it.” So I tried to think what I know how to do.
I house-broke my cat. I just put some cat litter in a cat pan and it went in there and pooped. That was it. I don’t know how long I could write about that unless I brought in some other species, but that could get out of hand.
The other thing you can do is pictures of a pet doing funny stuff. Like put a big red nose on your dog. But I never see my cat doing any funny stuff except when he fell in the toilet. I guess I could write how to dry out a cat.
The other thing you can do, which can get you really viral, is be real mad. There, you’ve got a lot of subject matter. Best thing right now is the Establishment, because it’s all over he place, like the politico-banko-medico-pharmico-educatorico-Silico-Hollywoodico-narco-fascistico-environmental conspiracy. There’s a lot of competition out there for who can be the maddest. But then you can maybe write a how-to about recovering from your stroke.
Or I guess I could write some hot tips about being a Fool. But that’s pretty simple.
I just read a fairly insipid novel that did have one intriguing idea. A character proposed that important social change can emerge from something shared within a small group of individuals irrespective of any traceable means of transference. The premise being that two or three people could bond in a state of Unconditional Love and soon its aura would spread from Sonoma County to the mountains of Afghanistan to the halls of Congress. Nowadays, of course, the pathways of viral memes are so multiple that “untraceable” simply means “too many options to consider.”
Still, one wonders, if two or three people began stroking their noses in unison, would it spread to thousands in ecstatic festivals of nose-stroking? More likely if it started in Manhattan or San Francisco than in Chadron, Nebraska. It helps if you’re living among swarms of journalists longing for something weird to write about. Who can tell what worldwide phenomena have actually commenced in Chadron and just didn’t gain traction till they hit one coast or the other?
But I think the notion is a worthy one. Like the actor’s “belief” in his role, it leads to actions, and if those actions produce something good, it’s worth the calories it’s taken to stroke those noses. Do I believe I’m King Lear? Of course not. Do I even believe there was a King Lear? I couldn’t care less. The whole point is the performance and its effect.
For me, religion is that sort of premise. I have no belief in a nameable deity, and yet our work has taken us into interaction with Christians & Jews of every sort, and we meet monthly with a small full-moon circle invoking the Goddess to make it rain or ease our arthritis or find a new apartment, and whether it works or not, it feels better doing it. I have the same belief in the Goddess as in King Lear—a performance that brings us together, clears the heart, focuses us for a couple of hours on the sweet mystery of things.
Religion, like science, is a scythe: it can harvest grain or it can slice a man in half.
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© Bishop & Fuller 2016