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A dog’s tale of Christmas spirit

As is my custom, I like to present my readers with a canine crafted Christmas story this time of year. This is a new one.

The Geezer and I wish you all a very "Merry Christmas"

The Geezer and I wish you all a very “Merry Christmas”

I watched the dog from my apartment window. The first time I noticed him was when I was eating lunch one Saturday. It was a blustery December day, cold, dreary … the type day best served by fireplaces, sofas with blankets, hot chocolate, and football games on the TV … not being outdoors. My apartment building adjoins the park where I saw him; that park’s lively April through October, but is as still as a mortuary in the cold Midwestern winter.

The dog was by himself, his actions rather strange for he chose to sit by an isolated park bench away from the access sidewalks that criss-cross the facility. Immobile as a statue, he faced into the wind and waited. I might have forgotten about him if it hadn’t been for the fact he was a Golden Retriever, one of my favorite canine breeds. It was for this reason I noticed the same animal, sitting precisely in the same location, after I returned from church the next day.

I’m a project engineer and elected to take a break in job assignments. Christmas was coming and with it another anniversary. My wife died, an untimely victim of a drunk driver the preceding Christmas day. Our ten years together was hardly enough and there were no children to help fill a Grande Canyon sized void in my life. Pity from relatives and friends, though well-meaning, added to my anguish. Their efforts to force me to indulge in an active social life revolted me. I was home, alone, on Monday and when lunch time arrived, I looked to see if the dog had returned to the park. He sat there, waiting for someone or something, patiently.

It was a bright, sunny day, with clear skies and cool temperatures. Between eating a sandwich, sipping coffee, and reading a novel, I kept tabs on the beast. The dog sat there, gazing intensely at the park entrance. The clock in my kitchen chimed two, I glanced at the dog in time to see him walking, alone, to the park’s front gate. I watched him cross the street and disappear into a maze of apartment buildings and homes. I decided I’d see if he’d return the next day. He did.

At eleven the next morning I saw him stroll through the park entrance, trot straight to the same bench, face the gate, sit on his haunches, and wait. Promptly at two, he left. Fascinated, I waited for the animal to change his behavior. He did not vary from his routine. Rain, wind, bitter cold … nothing made a difference. The only change I could see was his body thinning and a slightly perceivable slow-down in his gait.

A few days before Christmas two inches of snow covered the ground. I fancied I could see the animal shake. The poor dog looked as empty-hearted and forlorn as I felt. Before I gave it much thought, a pack of hamburger was in the microwave defrosting.

When I entered the park and stepped the hundred yards that separated us, the dog never looked at me. His eyes were focused on some unseen being in the world outside the park entrance. Goldens are known for their friendly disposition, but this one never acknowledged my existence, even when I sat on the bench next to him. His body was emaciated, his eyes slightly sunk into his skull.

“Hi boy.” The dog ignored me. “Who are you waiting for?” The retrievers eyes remained fixed on the gate. “You hungry?” I removed the hamburger from a cloth cooler and held it on my lap. The dogs nose twitched and its tongue circled its mouth. It did not move or take its eyes away from their vigil. I unwrapped the waxed paper from around the meat and placed it in front of the dog. It whimpered, but remained immobile. “Go ahead, boy.” He whimpered louder. “Go on,” I coaxed. The dog’s hunger won for a few seconds. He dropped his head over the meat and in a couple of gulps the hamburger disappeared. The dog returned to its watch. No amount of petting or verbal persuasion could distract it from its purpose.

“That dog belong to you?” A policeman stared down at the two of us. His expression was friendly, but sad.

“No, officer. I’ve been watching it from my window.” I pointed to my apartment. “I felt sorry for him.”

“It’s a stray. Some people reported it hanging around their home a couple days ago. I been keeping an eye on it. It doesn’t have a home. Sleeps where it can find a warm spot. One thing it does do, it always comes here during lunch time. I was hoping it was yours. Now I’ll have to call animal control and get it put down.”

“You don’t have to do that, do you?”

“Afraid so … unless someone adopts it.”

I heard myself say, “I will.”

‘Royal’ came home with me from the pound on Christmas Eve. It was obvious the dog had been well trained and cared for before his abandonment. He reacted to his new home with an attitude of grateful acceptance. As I had expected, there was a defined reservation in his demeanor. I new I was number two and probably always would be. We woke on Christmas morning … me grateful that something had entered my life to return some focus to it … he grateful for his improved chance of survival. I told him, “Well Royal, we got each other for Christmas.”

We spent the morning introducing ourselves to each other until eleven. It was then Royal barked for the first time. He changed from being calm and sedate to agitated. He went to the apartment door and scratched it and the floor beneath it. “Have to go out?” I asked. He barked and kept looking back and forth at the door and me. I had the leash on him and as we left the apartment there was no doubt where he was headed.

He led me to the park bench, and we sat there and waited, for what I had no idea. It was sunless, very cold, the wind was vicious, snow flew by horizontally and I settled deeper into my coat, wrapping my scarf over my face. Royal whimpered then began barking. When I uncovered my face he was staring at me … I thought.

From the bench next to me a soft feminine voice said, “I’m so happy that Clancy found a new home.” The voice came from a pretty young lady. Her long silver coat covered her in a manner that was surreal. Her brown hair spilled from a knitted cap, she had brown eyes, and smiling lips.

“You know who the dog belongs to?” I asked. She rose, nodded, said “yes,” and knelt in front of Royal wrapping her arms around the animal. It whimpered softly. The girl said, “Clancy belonged to Sally James. Sally had leukemia. The last weeks she lived she came to this park and sat here with Clancy.” The girl stroked the dog and scratched behind its ears. She put her head next to the dog’s ear and whispered to it. “I lost track of him after Sally died.” She patted the Golden on its head a few times and stood up. She smiled at the dog then at me.

I hoped for a negative answer. “If you’d like to take the dog, since he knows you …”

“Oh, no. I can’t have him with me. No dogs allowed kind of place. He is yours now. Besides, you two were made for each other.”

Royal, or Clancy, rested his head on my knee. His eyes were fixed on mine. It was as though a bond had passed from the dog, through the girl, to me. Looking deep into his eyes, I asked, “Ready to go home, boy?” He whimpered a positive response.

“Jessica approves.” It was the girl’s voice, but my wife’s name. My head jerked up to look at her … to ask her. No one was there. The dog and I were alone. His head and eyes were on me and are hearts were one. The weather hadn’t changed, but my life had suddenly turned warm. I spoke to the wind that howled around me, “Thank you Sally. Thank you Jess.” I will never be sure, but I believe I heard two women’s voices faintly, sweetly answer in the wind, “Merry Christmas.”

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Your New Years invite … Come see where I live.

Happy New Year!  2016 is here, lets hope it is better than 2015.  On to more happy things. I’m looking forward to changes for the better.

I'm looking forward to 2016.

I’m looking forward to 2016.

One of the things I enjoy most about blogging and reading blogs are all the trips I can make around the world without ever leaving my keyboard. The pictures that accompany the posts are wonderful bits of shared … vision … knowledge … and in cases, emotion. I’ve enjoyed Holland, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Singapore, Italy, England and many more destinations. That doesn’t include all the fascinating places that I’ve been transported to in the States. Yosemite. Zion National Park. New York City. San Francisco. The Grand Tetons. Seattle. Kansas City. The North Carolina Mountains. And, hundreds more!

Since I’ve enjoyed so many of these mini-journeys, I’ve decided to show you what my area is all about in pictures. Here’s a sampling of what I see and do with the Geezer and Mrs. G in our area.

My friend in flight

My friend Pelican Pete in flight

Mom heron getting ready to feed her babies

Mom night heron ready to feed her babies

Green heron!

Green heron!

Osprey looking for fish.

Osprey looking for fish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above are some of my bird buddies. Below are some critters we share space with.

 

Margret the Manatee

Margret the Manatee

 

 

 

Samantha the Swamp Rabbit

Samantha the Swamp Rabbit

What funny teeth you have! The better to saw you with.......

What funny teeth you have! The better to saw you with…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ain't I boootiful --- chomp, chomp?

Ain’t I boootiful — chomp, chomp?

 

The Geezer, Mrs. G, and I like to:

 

Canoe and Kayak

Canoe and Kayak

 

Do research on the Geezer's books.

Do research on the Geezer’s books.

Go on speaking engagements and book signings

Go on speaking engagements and book signings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tarpon Time - from the back yard on a light fly rod

Tarpon Time – from the back yard on a light fly rod

 

When we do those things here’s what we see.

 

Sunrise over the Atlantic

Sunrise over the Atlantic

"A Place No One Should Go, territory"

“A Place No One Should Go, territory”

A beautiful sunset over the bay.

A beautiful sunset over the bay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current weather I'm suffering in

Current weather I’m suffering in here on Bokeelia Bay

If you’d like to visit with the Geezer and me, go to his blog at http://www.dlhavlin.wordpress.com for his schedule. I’ll be accompanying him on outdoor events!

Don’t know about you, but … I’m tired of the negativity, the group think, the political correctness, and the division of everything into two opposing forces. Let’s hope a huge broom sweeps away a lot of our problems AND the people causing them this year.

Again HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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December 31 – Sandy’s New Year Wishes for her friends –

     Well, old 2009 will be leaving us soon.  My canine friends and I consider it an alright year.  No new houses were erected on the street so our romping areas remained in tact.  Bones still taste the same.  The Chinese didn’t put bad stuff in our food this year.  The politicians haven’t passed a dog turd or farting tax — yet.  Rabies is down, neighborhood dog population is up.  All is right with the canine world or at least its nuetral.
     My human is glad to see old 2009 leave.  The Geezer said, “It started bad, but everyone hoped for lemonade.  All they got were lemons.”  He looked wise and said, “Promptly at midnight I’m going to the toilet and flush it.  Hopefully, anything hanging around from 2009 will head down the drain.”
     Since 2009 wasn’t the best  for my human friends and just so-so for my canine buddies I decided to make some wishes for 2010.
     For Manny the chihuahua – Longer legs or more shorter women in the ‘hood.
     For Mrs. Zoomers – Shades that automatically go down on her windows when she undresses.
     For Gertrude the dachshund – Longer legs or less steps to climb and a bell on Manny’s collar to warn her when he’s coming.
     For the man who lives next door – A beer truck of his very own.
     For Giselle the greyhound – A rabbit that’s runs slow enough for her to catch.
     For Mrs. Gator – A TV remote that only works for her.
     For Heintz the mongrel – For the pizza delivery boy’s pepper spray can to always be empty when he delivers.
     For the Geezer’s friend Harry – That the next woman he marry’s divorce lawyer to be incompetent.
     For Barbie and Lucy our twin cocker spaniels – Matching boyfriends to match their matching food dishes, their matching rhinestone collars, and their matching neurosis.
     For Sparkles human – A really big one! I’m not sure what the big one she’s looking for is, but I sure hope she get’s it so she stops talking about it.
     For Sparkles the Irish setter – A bottle of whiskey, alka-seltzer, and a gag for her human.
      For Melissa Mrs. Gator’s friend – To be sure to read the labels on restroom doors before she enters
      For Fifi the poodle – A groomer with less of a warped sense of humor.
      For Dick the post man – A rear view mirror that doesn’t black out the mail boxes.
      For Sarge the German Shepherd – For his human to leave him with us for a weekend. WOOF! WOOF!
      For the Geezer – Either a TV that only broadcasts good news or less things to throw at it.
      For all dogs – Loving humans for them to own, lots of roadkill, a bones stimulus-bailout program, and flea eradication.
      For all humans – Smooth seas if you sail, clear skies if you fly, level roads if you walk, and honest politicians if you vote.  I at least had to put in one impossibility.
       To all HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!

www.dlhavlin-author.com

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January 7 – Resolutions Progress Report

       I thought it would be good to comment on the Geezer’s New Years Resolution progress.  Another way of describing this would be “Missions Impossible.”  I’m sure Tom Cruise could make a movie from my human’s struggles.  “Mission Impossible #16”  –  sounds good!  It couldn’t be any worse than some of the waste of celluloid I’ve seen on TV.
       Back to the subject.  The Geezer’s effort to keep up with those not yet a week old edicts, I’d grade as C-.  I hope that designation doesn’t offend those of you who are part of the “Society for the Universal Culmination of Kindergarten through School – of the Elimination of Grading.”  That’s SUCKS – EG, for short.  It’s hard to say anything in this ridiculously political correct environment without a storm of protest coming from some group of certifiables.  If you don’t like the C- “indictment statement,” tough.
       Okay, the old boy made 5 of those dedications to delusions, his words not mine.  One is already in “Flush Town.”  So much for giving a supreme effort to self-discipline.
       I knew the first one was doomed from the second he uttered the words… “I pledge to share control of the TV remote time equally with Mrs. Gator.”  There are somethings each of us aren’t capable of doing.  Physically.  Psychologically.  The stuff just isn’t there.  I don’t know if the Geezer was lying to himself or just plain lying.  Certainly, the football bowl games and all the related hoopla expedited its demise.  That resolution didn’t make it through New Years morning.  The Geezer hid the “clicker” when Mrs. Gator wanted to watch the Rose Parade instead of a replay of a game from the previous evening.  Mrs. Gator gave him “the eye,” waved the white flag without a struggle, and he removed the “power” from under the sofa cushion.  Scratch one edict.  I knew that one had as much chance of survival as a cat dropped into a pit-bull kennel with 10 residents that hadn’t been fed for two days.
       The two that are in jeopardy are his resolutions to, “manage my anger better,” and “clean up under the house and get rid of the junk.”
       The Geezer has one of those strange tempers that boils over at the littlest things, yet he manages to control himself when faced with some crisiss you would think should send him into orbit.  If he drops the soap while in the shower, a daily occurrence, it likely will trigger a stream of four letter wonders, connected in various combinations, shouted at the villainous bar of Dove.  However, he placed an order for Mrs. Gator’s major Christmas present on-line.  The store has botched it twice, but he has retained his composure and control when he speaks with them, remaining focused on getting the problem solved.  He dropped the soap this AM and there was no shouting, just an inaudible murmur.  I give this one 4 or 5 weeks.
       The “clean up under the house” decree is as secure as a drop of water on a stone in the desert at noon on a summer’s day.  It’ll evaporate, the only thing in question is the time involved.  The problem is Mrs. G.  She capitalizes the PACK in pack rat.  For every box the Geezer cleans out, Mrs. Gator will find at least one to replace it.  After a while he’ll realize it’s as futile as trying to keep the tide from rising, and he’ll capitulate.  He will work at this promise for two or three months until inevitability overcomes hope.
       His “lose weight” resolution is likely to be kept for four reasons.  First, the extra 50 pounds he’s toting around negatively impacts things he wants to do so there’s a big incentive there.  Second, he’s done this successfully before.  He has a diet that works.  Third, he knows the extra weight’s health impact on his ol’ codger bod’ ain’t good.  And fourth, when the needle on the scale gets anywhere close to having a three as the first number, he panics.  He’s throwing out the potato chips, Reese’s cups, buying diet sodas, and has the measuring cup and scale out.  I’m betting he’ll make this one.
       Last, and the one I thought would be the first to go, was his, “to watch less TV news and not to get angry at the idiots on these shows,” resolve.  Surprisingly, he’s doing this.  I didn’t believe he’d give up watching Fox and Friends for two hours every morning because he really likes the three humans who host that show, even the one he calls “Brainless in Long Island.”  He’s sworn off Bill O’Reillycompletely.  It’s surprising how positively its impacted his humor…it’s now generally good, not bad!  I asked him about the ease with which he’s abandoned that habit.  He grinned and replied, “You know how NBC has the peacock as its symbol?  Well, Fox is adopting an Ostrich as their’s.  That makes it easier.  I’d rather watch programs that stand for something, not nothing.”  I have no idea what he means.  I wish somebody would clue me in.  It probably has something to do with putting your head where the sun doesn’t shine and somebody named Beck, but that’s just a guess because it was mentioned at the same time. 
       That’s the Geezer New Years Resolution Progress Report.  Two are on-line, two are struggling to hang-on, and the third is already in septic tank city.

www.dlhavlin-author.com

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December 30 – New Years Resolutions? Or is that Delusions

      “The weather is great this morning Geezer.”  The last week in Southwest Florida has been perfect if you like the low 80’s, gentle breezes, and bright sunny days.  We sat on the dock watching a pair to Osprey hover around their nest, the female spending most of her time perched on her eggs.  “It would be nice if it stayed this way all year,” I added.
       “I don’t know, Sandy.  I think it would get boring after a while.”  The Geezer rubbed his mustache and grinned at me.  “You’ve see warm, warmer, and hot, but never cold.  Maybe I should add that to my list of New Year’s Resolutions….Get Sandy into some cold winter weather.”
       “What’s a New Years Resolution, Geezer?”  That was something I hadn’t heard about before.
       The Geezer laughed.  “New Years’ Resolutions are what we humans do to delude our conscience into believing we will make changes in our lives we have no intention of completing.”  He hesitated, blinked his eyes, and got one of those ‘I’d better come clean’ looks on his mug.  “That’s overstating a little, Sandy.  There are a few of us that really will follow through and keep them.”
       “Let me be sure I understand, Geezer.  People realize there’s something they need to do, they say they’re going to do it, but really know they’re not?”  That really sounded stupid, but then we are talking about humans here.  I couldn’t help mumbling under my breath, “Dumb.”
       “You’re right, Sandy.”
       “Are you making any New Years Resolutions?” I asked.  “Of course, I KNOW you’ll keep yours.”  I can’t help it…I was born with a sarcastic tongue.
       The Geezer leaned forward and watched one of the Ospreys leave the nest.  He remarked, “Look, Sandy, Mama Ospreys going to find breakfast.”
       He should know I’m not that easy to distract.  “No, no, no, Geezer.  You’re not getting off that easy.”  I rose up on all fours and stared into his eyes.  “Are…you…making…any…resolutions?”
       The old boy gave me a guilty glance mixed with embarrassment.  “Okay, you got me.  I’ll tell you what resolutions I should make.  Want to hear them?”
       “Yes.”
       He shook his head and sighed before he began.  After he’d put off starting as long as he could he said, “To lose weight.”
       “That’s a good one.”  The Geezer’s shape was approaching that of one of the blimps televising the football bowl games.  Though filled with gas, he certainly wasn’t lighter than air.
       “Do a better job of anger management.”  His guilt glance made me laugh.
       “Go on,” I said.
       “Watch less TV and don’t get so upset by the idiots on the tube.”  The guilt remained.
       “I can see what you mean about delusions.  Geezer, since we’re talking fantasy here, why don’t you make up some wacky resolutions for some famous people?  That would be interesting.”  The smile on the Geezer’s face swished away his anguished features.  I really think the old boy should reimburse me for psychological services.  Sirloin steak would do nicely. 
       The Geezer thought for a few seconds.  “Hmmm.  I’d start with having that Illinois Governor resolve to enroll in a criminology course on wiretapping.”
       “Good one Geezer!”  I knew that would juice him up.
       “How about having Jerry Jones resolve to make Terrell Owens the Dallas headcoach and install Jessica Simpson as the new starting center for the Cowboys?”
       I laughed, “Well, they wouldn’t be much worse than they were against the Eagles.”
       “Romo would be happy.”  The Geezer’s eyes lighted up.  “I have a good one; have John McCain resolve to suspend his campaign to coach the Cardinals in their first playoff game.”
       “Hey, the election is over!  Besides, does he know anything about football?”
       “So are the Cardinals chances of winning the playoff.  And, McCain can’t know less about coaching football than he did about running his campaign.  That gets me thinking.  How about having Bill O’Reilly resolve to not mention his Harvard education on TV for one year?  Or having Paris Hilton resolve to install cameras in her bathroom so everything she does can be covered by the press.  Maybe we could get a resolution from Ann Coulter and Barbara Pelosi to resolve their differences in one of those steel cage wrestling matches.  The loser would resolve to have their vocal cords removed.  I bet Tiger Woods could be convinced to resolve to never drive another Buick.  Or we could get Michael Moore to resolve to make a movie on the humanistic side of Josef Stalin?  Why not have Paulson resolve to stand on the Mexican border and give bailout checks to the illegals as they cross.  Or get Kieth Obermann to resolve to get a brain transplant?  How about having the people that give out the movie Oscars resolve to select the best performances instead of passing out the statues to those who have an agenda with which they agree.”
      “Now you are truly talking delusions.  They have to make that kind of movie first.”