First off, I like dogs.
We’ve owned a dog when the kids were young. I grew up with dogs.
A favorite poem by Rudyard Kipling has to do with the universal grief at losing a dog.
When the body that moved at your single will,
and the whimper of welcome is still, how still.
When the spirit which answered your ever mood,
Is gone, where ever it goes, for good,
Then you discover how much you care,
And give your heart to a dog to tear.
So, I’m not mad at the dogs that are walked up and down our street every day. If I’m near, we exchange greetings. I speak, he wags his tail. Good enough.
I’m mad at the person who allowed a dog to pee on our clump of beautiful red geraniums at the mailbox. Two of the plants have keeled over and died.
In a way, I have no business casting stones. One day in the long ago, while walking our four-pound poodle I allowed her to pause long enough to squirt a thimbleful or so of urine on the lawn of former neighbor Mary Jane Walton.
Mary Jane emerged from her doorway like a rocket-launched missile and accosted me. “A.C.,” she said, reasonably amiable, “I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t let your dog go to the bathroom on my lawn. My grandchildren like to play and tumble on the grass.”
I apologized profusely, thanked her sincerely and to this day wonder how I could have been so insensitive. At least no flowers were lost. Our geraniums, purchased from the Brookhaven Garden Club, were pretty and rather expensive.
A Foothills relative had a familiar expression she used when putting down someone who didn’t measure up to expectations: “He’s lower than dirt, and you can’t get no lower than dirt.”
I think the recrimination fits anyone who will stand and watch his or her dog while it pees on someone’s geraniums.
Two of the Florida grandchildren are at camp down on the coast – Arapahoe. Camps Seafarer and Seagull, extensions of the Raleigh YMCA, are recognized as two of the outstanding camps in the country.
In addition to the varied life of boating, swimming, life-saving instruction and all that, something else exciting is going on. No electronic devices are allowed. This has always been the rule at this Shangri-la on the Neuse River. This year, however, camp employees handed out stickers promoting the unplugged summer.
All campers will be without cellphones, iPads, uPads and any other electronic “pads” for one solid month. Kids will thus be reminded that their brains will not malfunction or shut down without them.
It may be that without the electronic toys, the campers may hear a whippoorwill in the night or notice a sand crab down by the lake or master the art of conversation without something attached to an ear.
Meanwhile, a month sans phones or verbal contact with the outside world may deepen their affection and appreciation for Mom and Dad.
They usually win
In my ongoing war against the squirrels, I have more or less run up the white flag of surrender. I will spare you the long list of atrocities they have launched against me.
Only one triumph prevails. They cannot solve my sunflower seed feeder. It is one of those feeders so designed that when a squirrel lands on the bird perch, the battery-charged feeder spins around swiftly for several seconds and then hurls the squirrel into space. I should charge at least a buck to watch for the performance. You’d think this experience would make my place off-limits forever. No way.
They love it! They turn right around, go back up the tree and drop down on the feeder and enjoy another ride. It is as if they’re at Disney World or the State Fair with a lifetime supply of free ride tickets in their pockets. But my sunflower seed is safe for the birds.
When a young woman confided to an older friend, “I’m having an affair.” The latter replied, “Really? Who’s catering it?”
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