Tag Archive | dogs

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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Bald Eagles are free and so are we.

Our new neighbor is our national bird - the bald eagle.

Our new neighbor is our national bird – the Bald Eagle.

 

Maybe it’s just coincidence, but we have a prospective new neighbor checking out a home site on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. It is the symbol our forefathers chose to represent the freedom and strength they hoped our country would possess. A pair of Bald Eagles have been reconnoitering the local digs as a place for them to build their condominium. Lightning struck the pine tree in the front yard of the house across the street making it the perfect place for raising a family. I hope they decide to stay; the tree is about a hundred feet from the front of our house. Cool, right?

December 7th. What does it really mean. Yes, it is Roosevelt’s “date that will live in infamy.” We know the act, the terrible loss of life, and the war that followed. We know brave service men and women gave their lives and are a bitter reminder that living the way we choose to live has a great cost. However, there is another meaning.

Pearl Harbor is a statement on of the fragility of our system. A dictator’s decision triumphed over our democracy’s need for consensus. True, our system is fragile, but in this seeming weakness, the true strength of our nation exists. We are of different minds and we are allowed this right without fear of retribution. We can do so, as long as we do not stifle the rights of others to do, and think, and say, as they please. This diversity of thought does seem to make us vulnerable. However, it is the tyranny of singularity of thought, all that is allowed in totalitarian states, that makes the evilness of the Nazis and slime and filth of Communism, a hard strong shell, with a rotten core.

A free society allows the individual to achieve as much as he can, not settle for what the state says he may have. Has the fairness factor gotten out of balance? Yes, but those who scream for social justice would simply have to enforce the anti-trust statutes – they won’t because the people who put them in power don’t really want to do what they claim to desire. The opportunity to achieve appeals to the human spirit more than the “right” to simply exist. This is our strength in our fragility. We fight to retain the right to achieve.

Humans aren’t all the same as simpletons in some universities believe. Our cultures are different, our sense of right and wrong, our aims and goals in our individual lives … all are very different. That is the reason countries have borders; the people in those borders choose to live in a defined manner consistent their desires, culture, sense of right and wrong, and goals. We haven’t the right to impose our will on them. They haven’t the right to impose their will on us. Neither has the right to invade the other in any manner.

So on this December 7th, I’m a proud American canine. I love my country and I’m damned proud of it. Do you have the right to differ on this? Yes, if you’re a citizen … you even have the right to change the laws we live under if you go through the proper process, amend the Constitution. If the majority of the people agree with you you’ll get your change. If not, live with it. What you don’t have the right to do is to try to force or intimidate me to think like you. I won’t.

 

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On haunted, hallowed ground.

 

The "King's Highway." This piece of American history is haunted.

The “King’s Highway.” This piece of American history is haunted. It wandered its way from Fort Brook (Tampa, FL today) to Fort King (Ocala). A bloody massacre occurred on the sands pictured here.


 

Have you ever been on a spot that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck? I’ve been to several, but I’ve never been to one that had my ESP on alert more than the one pictured above. My fur, and I have plenty of that, was at full attention during my entire stay at this place.

You might ask why. The shaded, sandy lane is the place a war started. It was one that those who fought its battles, at the time, saw as necessary. History would add “unjust” as a descriptor of the conflict, but would also have to  add “inevitable” during the era it was fought. On December the 28th, 1835, Major Francis L. Dade and a group of 108 soldiers were attacked and defeated by 180 Seminole warriors under Chief Micanopy. Only three of Dade’s command survived; Seminole losses were later reported to be less than a dozen braves.

The reason the Seminoles attacked was fear that Dade’s troops were there to enforce a treaty that some of their leaders signed agreeing to relocate to west of the Mississippi in what is now Oklahoma. The soldiers were on their way to strengthen Fort King which settlers feared wasn’t strong enough to protect them. Reality, harshly stated, was 30,000 settlers wanted access to the lands belonging to 5,000 Seminoles. Tricked, bribed or coerced, some Seminole chiefs signed treaty papers ceding their lands to the US Government at Fort Gibson after visiting Oklahoma in 1833. Legality and morality became opponents.

My human, the Geezer, is doing research for a four book historical series he’s writing on the birth of modern Florida. It was a pregnancy that covered a period from the 1780’s through the 1950’s. Ohhhhh, my! That makes the canine gestation period of 9 weeks and the human pregnancy of 9 months, pieces of cake.

We walked over the well-documented battle site trail at the Dade Battlefield Historic State Park. I could feel cold hands reaching out, touching my coat. The dead’s spirits hadn’t left this spot.

I asked, “Geezer, do you feel something?”

“Like what?” he answered. He grinned at me. His expression was wry, not mirthful. The old boy knew and felt their presence, too.

“Ghosts!” I said and he simply nodded, yes. It is a haunted, hallowed place.

There is a great museum there and the battlefield is very well marked. I’ve included a few photos.

Flintlock rifle, bayonet, and sword in the Dade Battlefield Museum.

Flintlock rifle, bayonet, and sword in the Dade Battlefield Museum.

 

An artist's recreation of the battle scene.

An artist’s recreation of the battle scene. The Seminoles wait, hidden, as Dade’s column approaches.

 

Recreation of the log revetment the survivors of the initial assault built. They made their last stand behind the logs they cut down.

Recreation of the log revetment the survivors of the initial assault built. They made their last stand behind the logs they cut down.

1835 soldier in uniform

1835 soldier in uniform

Seminole ready for battle.

Seminole ready for battle.

 

These two figures are in the museum on site. The information provided is excellent and portrays both sides fairly.

 

 

 

The Dade Battlefield park is well worth making a trip to visit or swinging by if you’re traveling past. It is just a few miles off I-75 near the town of Bushnell, Florida. The address is 7200 County Road 603 (Battlefield Parkway). You can get more info from the website – http://www.dadebattlefield.com.

 

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Happy Thanksgiving All!

Sandy wishes you all a happy turkey day!

Sandy wishes you all a happy turkey day!

I know. I know. I’ve been behind in my posts. Sorry, I’ll catch up in the next week or two.

So much for excuses, I have a thing or two to tell you. My human has had a short story (500 words) published in a literary magazine. The magazine is Ripen the Page. Check it out!  http://www.thepagereader.com/blog/  The story is titled, “There are no lights in Naples.” I promise it will grab you.

My humans have been busy going to book events – some I could go on and some not so much! Here are a couple pictures.

"DL when is your next book coming out?" - "It's being released this spring, Dan - it's a suspense/mystery called THE BAIT MAN.

“DL, when is your next book coming out?” – “It’s being released this spring, Dan – it’s a suspense/mystery called THE BAIT MAN.” Dan is one of DL’s biggest fans.

 

The Geezer, sorry that's DL, making a historical presentation to a full house at King's Gate Country Club.

The Geezer, sorry that’s DL, making a historical presentation to a full house at King’s Gate Country Club.

And once again – HAPPY THANKSGIVING !!

 

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Meet Remi, my niece … she’s nice!

 

Meet Remi!

Meet Remi!

I want to introduce you to my niece, Remi. She lives with my humans friends in Jacksonville. Isn’t she a pretty puppy. She’s only four months old and she’s a heart-breaker already.

 

Remi loves the pool. Is she a future Olympian?

Remi loves the pool. Is she a future Olympian?

Remi has energy levels that exhaust me just watching her. Her human, Mr. R, would throw different toys into the water and … kerplunk! She never tired of retrieving and swims magnificently. Imagine, she’s just a baby. I see gold metals around her neck in the future. Look out Katie Ledecky!

 

Ssshhhh. I'm not supposed to be here. If I don't move they may think I'm a stuffed toy

Ssshhhh. I’m not supposed to be here. If I don’t move they may think I’m a stuffed toy

Remi is a mischievous young un’. She likes to tease her humans, the Geezer, Mrs G. and … me! She’s learning. And she’s very smart. Mr. R says she’s too smart! If Remi knows there is something off-limits to her, naturally, that’s the thing she wants to do. She usually finds a way. Like the picture above. She claims she’s camouflaged for just such occasions.

If I’m around her enough, I’m sure I can impart some canine wisdom in her. The picture below is proof. My lecture was on how to train your humans to bring treats to you. It went like this — “Take a load off. Lay down. Look bored. But, still look cute. Adorable works better. Give them a big doggy smile. Wag you tail to reward them when they feed you. It works.”

 

 

"Remi, lay down, relax, let the humans bring the treats to us." She's learning.

“Remi, lay down, relax, let the humans bring the treats to us.” She’s learning.

 

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I get to go!

 

 

DL speaking at a college. He'll be at Daytona State this Wednesday.

DL speaking at a college. He’ll be at Daytona State this Wednesday.

I get to go! My human will be speaking to students and faculty from Daytona State and Bethune-Cookman this Wednesday and I get to go. Well …….. I sort of get to go. I get to make the trip, but not inside to participate in the lecture. Human universities are a little slow in recognizing my degree in Canineology. I’ll be spending time with my niece Remi: I’ll have pictures.

The Geezer, DL Havlin as you humans know him, is going to be talking about his background in writing and related items to give those attending information on what an author does and why he does it.

The afternoon begins at one with keynote speaker, Mike Pyle kicking-off the program. DL is scheduled for the second “breakout” session at around 2:45. Daytona State is near the speedway and easy to locate. The program is open to the public. Just use MapQuest or your auto’s GPS feature and show up!

I’ll be on the road again. Since I got so much positive feedback about the picture of the Geezer driving and me instructing him, I’ll republish the photo. Your comments that I was far better looking than the Geezer, were appreciated, but not unexpected. I am beautiful … but modesty prevents me from repeating that more than once. Poor Geezer … he was at the end of the looks line.

 

I hear Willie singing, "On the road again"

I hear Willie singing, “On the road again”

 

PS – DL said to tell you all that “Maledicus,” a horror story is released! The novel by friend author and professor Charles French is available from Amazon … NOW!

 

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The most popular place to shop … The Two Sizes Too Small Mall

 

a shopper at the Two Sizes Too Small Mall

a shopper at the Two Sizes Too Small Mall

 

I’ve noticed more and more people are going to one place to buy their clothes. It has to be the “Two Sizes Too Small Mall.” My humans take me with them everywhere they can, so I can attest to the growing popularity of this shopping Mecca. More and more people I observe while sitting in the car, walking down the street, or curled up under the table at one of Geezer’s book signings are packed into clothes that would make sardines sweat.

I assume humans pinch their body into what amounts to a sausage casing because it’s one of those fads humans are fond of pursuing. Fads! One more reason to be thankful I’m canine! Why would these folks reveal secrets better kept cloaked, if it wasn’t for some misguided fashion whim? Most men would like others to think they have abs, not flabs. Isn’t the hour-glass the vision most women would like others to believe lies under their garments? Clothes purchased at the Two Sizes Two Small Mall give many ladies the appearance of a stack of tires in a used auto parts store.

Maybe this fad is a guilt trip on which humans are embarked. They seem unable to speak the truth. Is this their way of being truthful without having to verbalize it? They display what’s there whether it should be or not. Maybe clothes bought at “Two Sizes Too Small Mall” are a form of truth serum. It’s like them saying, “This is what I got.” Unfortunately, more often than not, what they got is one hell of a lot.

Not all the men and women who buy their clothes at that mall look bad; in fact some look just fine. This isn’t just my opinion. I can tell from the straining eyes, the snapping sound of necks turning, and dripping saliva that I observe as human members of the opposite sex saunter by each other. I guess many of them don’t really mind being objectified after-all.

I asked my human why the fad was so popular. He answered, “Sandy, it’s not a fad. Many of these people suffer from fatassia disease.” I didn’t know what fatassia meant, I asked, and he explained. “It’s pronounced fat-ass-ia.” I asked why the thin ones and humans with good shapes wore clothes from the Two Sizes Two Small Mall. He grinned and replied, “All humans are marketing experts. They’re advertising.” I told you humans can’t tell the truth.

Humans! I glad my coat fits fine all the time.

 

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