Howdy! Happy 4th Monday!
Report from some of you on the content of these happy Mondays is that if Jake was the ‘king of random’ its highly likely he got it from me.. so in that vein, let me continue.
We have a new puppy Ellie Mae. She’s a classy black lab. I know this because she stretches into that classic pose where back legs and tail straighten and stretch away from a nose pushed forward and a front paw bent. This, opposed to Moses who is a square, huge blockheaded ‘which-way-did-they-go-George’ yellow lab. John found Ellie.
He and I wanted her because Moses is getting to be an old man and I had it in mind that it would be a loss to the canine world if he didn’t pass on those genes of his. Despite all the Woody Allen/Soon-Yi jokes, we brought her home. Ellie was calm and peaceful, initially. It didn’t take long before the intrigue that Moses felt dissappated into complete irritation. In a constant battle of wills, Ellis intentionally harrases him emotionally and physically, launching full assaults with everything from body slams to food theft.
Having never seen Moses snarl before, it’s scary to see those big ole jowls of his thin across huge canines. She clearly brings out things in him we have never seen. With all the rainy weather I pitied him this week so I took them down to Cypress Creek, to the old beaver pond that has acted as a drainage ditch for the area. I sloshed through palmetto low-ground heading for the pond with both dogs running ahead of me in a path big enough for a four-wheeler. We got to the southeast corner of the pond and Moses was busy peeing on everything with Ellie trying to figure out why and I see two of the biggest deer I have seen in a while. If you weren’t watching and lifted your head for a moment all you would have seen were their tails, like white flags in the distance.
My hunting dogs never noticed. We walked a bit further, circling around to the finger of land that bisects the pond. There is a narrow, ridge-top trail, and I wish I could see this at dusk because I bet that’s when the raccoons and deer make the most use of this path to the water. There prints tell me it’s a common area. A large red-tailed hawk lifts off from a nearby pine tree and I hear her screech and call. I am not ready to go back yet and neither are the dogs but we are done with the wide paths and well-used animal routes.
I head off in a direction we have never been and Ellie comes back to me and her brown eyes mirroring her questioning whine. Even in the dead of winter the brambles and beggars lice are a problem and more than once my cap comes off my head and I have to bend down to pick a cocklebur out of wet dog hair. The woods are darker because the understory is thicker and Ellie is clearly worried now. Then something interesting happens.
Moses takes the lead. In a calm half trot, the skin on his back lose and mobile over powerful haunches, he pushes through with his nose to the ground. The two girls following close behind him, he stops occassionaly to look over his shoulder, momentiarly satisfied. He sometimes backtracks a bit, but makes constant progress around the lake.
I am struck by how fatherly he is acting. Almost back, Moses and I make it across a steep crevice running with recent rain, but Ellie balks. Why this looks so forbidding to her I can’t imagine, but she isn’t moving.
I try everything you would with a child, coaxing, scolding, temporary adandonment but nothing works. The next thing I know Mosse calmly slips down the little ravine and steps into a small damned area, standing up to his chest in water. He never looked at Ellie, but stayed there long enough for her to notice and within seconds she nervously followed his example. It wasn’t a big step for her from there to the other side.
For you dads, dads-to-be, adopted dads, godfather dads, granddads, didn’t know you would be dads, and hope to be dads, Happy Monday.