Show me a picture of a canine mother and her pups and I can’t help but go, “Ooh.” Show me a video of a golden retriever mom and her passel of pups playing in the snow and I melt. I hope this brightens your day as much as it did mine.
Show me a picture of a canine mother and her pups and I can’t help but go, “Ooh.” Show me a video of a golden retriever mom and her passel of pups playing in the snow and I melt. I hope this brightens your day as much as it did mine.
It’s all their fault – the dinosaurs that is. Well, they had a pretty good run on the stage of planet Earth as masters of the planet for 165 million years. But then, whack – a cataclysmic event wiped them out about 65 million years ago. And that started the whole mess – I mean the energy mess.
There’s poor Nemo, your typical male T Rex out one day looking for lunch, a meteor hits the planet and the rest, including Nemo, is history. Little did Nemo expect when he woke up that morning that one day his transformed remains were going to end up being pumped into somebody’s Hummer so that mom could take the kids to soccer practice in a place called America.
Fortunately for the dinosaurs they had not developed the telescope so their demise was unexpected and probably nearly instantaneous for most of them. But had they known that the meteor was hurtling on a collision course to Earth they would have had no more ability to alter its path than we are. They were the victims of true climate change.
Before the first oil well was purposely drilled in Titusville, PA in 1859, oil and natural gas seeped naturally from the ground in various places in the country. In many cases mining for salt opened veins into these deposits and they were considered more of a nuisance than anything useful. Then mankind learned how to make kerosene which began to be used for lighting. In time kerosene became the fuel of choice, replacing whale oil which was formerly used to illuminate our homes.
In 1859 in a virtually pristine America, consider the conundrum of an environmentalist with imagination who foresees the invention of the horseless carriage and how oil will become a potential threat to our planet because its use releases greenhouse gas. On the other hand, by using it we are doing the right thing in saving the largest mammals on earth, our whales, from hunting and possible extinction.
As we know, there was no environmental agenda 165 ears ago nor was there a need for one. But things have changed, and while I do not necessarily agree with the hyperbolic rhetoric that those who forecast our imminent doom use, it is hard to deny that our cities with their dense populations contain worse air than our heartland’s wheat fields and that mankind has an impact on the world. But we do it one person at a time.
The other day I was engaged on this subject by a fellow dog owner at the park. Both of us were originally from NYC yet despite that, we have diametrically different views of the world. He introduced the statement that “Ninety-five percent of all scientists believe that mankind is responsible for climate change.” The following day he brought me a printout that substantiated his position. I appreciated his follow up. To me it demonstrated his passion for the subject and his belief in his position.
Now as a rational person it is clear to me that each of us has an impact on the world or, if you prefer the term, the environment. For example, a person who murders another person has inalterably changed the world. The victim was about to get married and might have had several children. Those children will never be born as a result of the murder. What if one of those children had turned out to be a brilliant inventor who found an efficient, inexpensive way to produce universal renewable energy? Or what if that child was left as an unborn embryo on the cutting room of an abortion clinic?
The day following our initial conversation I again engaged this chap on the subject. I asked him whether he had walked to the park. He replied that he had driven. I mentioned that I also had driven there, the three miles one way. So I pointed out to him that we both obviously put our two dogs’ need to socialize with others of their kind above our concern for the carbon emissions we were going to cause by using our vehicles. By extension, anyone who uses electricity to light his home or gas to heat it has made a personal decision that his personal comfort is more important than the environment. I have yet to hear of an environmentalist who operates his laptop by utilizing candle power.
After years of “study,” the news is finally in that the Keystone XL Pipeline does not pose any grave threats to the environment. Whether this project goes forward or not is now up to President Obama. He is finally expected to approve it some time this summer – about five years late.
During the course of this hiatus there have been eleven incidents in which oil was being transported by freight trains that derailed. Some of the contents of the oil cars spilled – sometimes in fiery explosions. Mankind will never invent perfect solutions to our challenges until we ourselves become perfect. That may be awhile.
In writing this post I realized how great mankind’s indebtedness is to our dinosaur predecessors, as unanticipated by them as it was. I would raise a glass in a toast to them, but there’s no hooch in the house. So I’ll just add this to my blog and in commemoration of their sacrifice turn the heat up a little. It’s a bit chilly in the house.
If we’re fortunate enough to be born, it isn’t long before we discover that our world is full of rules. The ones who make up the first ones are our parents and right on their heels come our teachers and our schools.
“Eat your peas.” “Hold still while I wash behind your ears.” “Make sure you’re seated at your desk before the bell rings.” “No talking in class.” Those sorts of things become the music that is always playing in the background of our personal soap operas.
Fortunately, most of those rules, based on the love and experience of our elders are there for a reason. They protect us so that we can survive long enough that we can start making up rules for the next generation.
All rules are not created equal. A child who refuses to eat his peas might be toying with his personal health but his refusal to bathe for months has an impact on all those with whom he comes in contact. And the child who talks and disrupts a classroom impacts his fellow students but being late to attend school mostly affects his own opportunity to learn.
So we see that, even among those rules which are designed by those who make them out of a loving motivation, some are more consequential than others. And that brings us to the larger question of rule making to which we become exposed as we take our places as adults in society, written by those who are elected to govern us “for our own good”. We call these rules, laws. And there are a lot of them – more than mom and dad or the principal of my grammar school ever concocted.
This became abundantly clear to me yesterday as I took Gracie and the three golden retrievers to the dog park. It was turning out to be a warmer day than we have been experiencing lately, but for some reason, when we arrived for our second visit we were there by ourselves.
After a short bit of ball throwing as we walked through the fairly large area, I saw one of the Park Marshalls pull into a parking space. He stepped out of his car and entered through the gate. I didn’t think much of it until he approached me and asked, “Are those four your dogs?”
I explained that Gracie and I were together and that I was taking care of the three goldens for a friend. After checking to make sure that they had all the right paperwork on them (in their case it was tags on their collars) he gratuitously informed me that, “You are only allowed to have three dogs if you live in Las Vegas.” I told him that I knew that.
So he then said, “Other than your saying that these three dogs are a friend’s, how do I know that is really the case?” The gross stupidity of that question stunned me. He had just checked the dogs to make sure that each of them had one of the required “documents” – a name tag with the owner’s name and phone number on the reverse side. I pointed that out to him.
“You will notice these three have one owner’s name on their ID tags and Gracie has mine on it.” He thought for a moment as the profundity of that statement sank in. “Oh,” he responded. “Well, have a nice day.” And with those words he returned to his vehicle.
I wasn’t sure, as I thought about this brief encounter whether I was more annoyed at the stupidity of rules like this or the people whom we pay to enforce them. I don’t know what city councilman thought up this rule or which other members voted to pass it – but it makes little sense and has almost nothing to do with the public’s safety and well-being.
In fact, it is somewhat counter-productive in a municipality which needs money and charges for each dog license which is issued. You would think that from a strictly economic standpoint, the city would view having dogs as a source of revenue and would encourage a philosophy of “the more the merrier.”
Of course, the inherent foolishness of this rule is rather obvious. A household is limited to three dogs. Where this magic number comes from is anybody’s guess. But the law doesn’t stipulate what kind of dogs, so one household might have three Chihuahuas and be in compliance and another might have three Bullmastiffs and also be in compliance.
Frankly, I’m surprised that Chihuahua owners throughout the Las Vegas Valley haven’t screamed discrimination and sued the city. Even the more obtuse members of our judiciary would probably notice that you need a lot more than three Chihuahuas to come up with the weight-equivalent of three Bullmastiffs.
If you drive around Las Vegas, you will see a variety of billboards posted by attorneys. One for people who are experiencing marital issues reads, “Call us at (702) D-I-V-O-R-C-E.” Another, for those who enjoy drinking and driving and speeding offers help at (702) T-I-C-K-E-T-S.
How long can it be before an ever vigilant city, faced with tremendous deficits, begins doing house to house searches for contraband, excess dogs and we will see a poster from a new law firm that offers help at (K-9-P)-R-O-B-L-E-M-S?
As I was writing this I remember the old saw, “Good things come in threes”. I also remember hearing that about sneezes. Perhaps that is the thinking that also limits our dogs to three per household. And it does suggest a thought.
What if we were to limit our elected officials to passing no more than three laws during their term of office or restricting the President to the same number of Executive Orders during his four years? This might have the effect of requiring them to focus on what is really important and addressing those issues in a serious manner. Or at least one could hope.
Otherwise, we’ll just have to adapt to living in an idiotocracy. I suspect most of us have gotten kind of used to it already.
The first story I saw this morning on Yahoo news was about nine Golden Retriever comfort dogs who have come, courtesy of Lutheran Church Charities to be with the residents of Newtown, CT as they try to pick up the pieces of their lives after last Friday’s tragedy.
This brief video should help you start your day in an upbeat way.
During the Middle Ages there was a king in central Europe who wanted to educate the people of his realm. He heard of a renowned scholar and hoped this man would share his wisdom with the king’s subjects. So he sent forth emissaries to find the scholar and invite him to be the tutor for the kingdom.
The scholar came and met with the king who told him of his plan. He accepted the king’s invitation to teach his people all that he knew. The king was delighted that he was fulfilling the mission he had set for himself.
A number of years passed.
One day the scholar sought an audience with the king who granted his request. At the audience the scholar said, “Your majesty. I have been with you and your people for quite a few years. I have taught you all that I know. It is now time for me to leave and share my knowledge with other people.”
The king was sad to see the scholar depart but he understood that the scholar was doing what he believed to be the right thing.
He said to the scholar, “While we are sorry to lose you we respect your decision. But before you depart, we must have a feast in your honor – for all that you have done for me and for my people.”
The scholar agreed to remain until the feast.
The king ordered that a large wooden structure be erected – sufficient in size to accommodate both the nobility as well as the commoners who had been educated by the scholar. It was a very large building – rather barn-like – with no doors on either side in order to allow easy access to the many guests who were invited to attend the festivities.
The king ordered that a large and fine variety of foods be served at the evening banquet. The fare was exceptional. The king seated the scholar at his right hand at the table of honor.
As the meal concluded, a small bird flew in from one end of the open structure, spent a few seconds flying around the candles at the king’s table, and departed through the other end of the building as quickly as she had entered.
The king took this to be a sign of some sort. He asked the scholar to explain it’s meaning.
The scholar responded, “My Lord – this is the story of life. Abruptly we emerge from the darkness, we spend a brief moment in the light and just as rapidly as we entered, we return to the darkness.”
Today my beloved companion – my Golden Retriever, Spenser left the light. Those of you who have loved companion animals and have lost them will understand the grief and my deep sense of loss.
During our years together, Spenser was my “scholar”. He taught me that extending selfless acts of love is the way in which we should live our lives. He never asked for much yet he always offered everything he had to give.
Would that we would only learn those lessons.
Perhaps that’s what the scholar taught the people in the great king’s realm.
This is a reblog of a post published about a year ago. Gracie and I lost Spenser on 11/29/11 and I wanted to offer him a tribute but it was too difficult for me to do on the anniversary of his passing.
He was a devoted companion and a wonderful friend – and Spenser, Gracie and I love you and still miss you.
Let’s begin at the beginning which we know is a very good place to start. My love affair with dogs started very shortly after I made my way into the world – kicking and screaming and annoyed at the bright lights in the delivery room which had disturbed the comfortable warm, dark and secure accommodations I had previously enjoyed.
A short while later I went to a new place that I would call home until the time that I went off to college. It was a small apartment filled with an amazingly loving and wonderful buff colored Cocker Spaniel named Taffy who would act as a surrogate guardian for my parents and grandmother.
Mom and this guy called Dad had disappeared for about a week on something that was called a honeymoon. They had been married on Flag Day and ten days and a year later I popped into the world. This was back in the days when the sequence of events was getting married and then having children. Even then, (although we had not yet invented the word), there were people who were dyslexic and got these instructions backwards – but they were relatively few in number and polite people didn’t talk about them.
Now Mom had gotten Taffy as a puppy – but by the time of her marriage he was twelve years old and very devoted to her. She was concerned that he might be jealous of this new addition to the family. As it turned out, she had nothing to fear. Taffy considered it his duty to take care of this baby, sleeping by the side of my crib, ever vigilant should anything or anyone disturb me.
Perhaps he saw in me a kindred spirit. Maybe it was the fact that I pooped and piddled with abandon in those old fashioned cloth diapers which Mom and Grandma had to wash out and launder and then reuse. Perhaps those smells reminded him of the others of his kind whom he knew only by the aroma that they left on the fire hydrant down the street. In any event, Taffy assumed the role of my protector and guarded me with all his might.
After awhile my parents decided to introduce me to the wonders of Central Park. I had a big English stroller carriage and Taffy and I would ride in it together. I would gum his ears with my mouth and do the same to his nose. He reciprocated these affronts to his dignity by showering my hands and face with licks and then would resume his rest at the foot of the carriage, always attentive if a stranger came too close to his baby.
Taffy lived to be nearly seventeen. I was in the apartment but sleeping when he passed away near my little bed. My parents removed his body before I awakened and had it cremated. When I got up that morning I remember looking for him. That was when I first became aware of the principle that where there is life there is also death. I remember crying inconsolably at the loss of my very devoted friend.
A week later my folks came home with Taffy’s ashes – and a new addition to our little family. This was a pure black Cocker Spaniel puppy whom they named Ace. And after Ace there was Andy and a succession of wonderful companion dogs with whom I have been privileged to share my home and my heart with the sole exception of the four years I lived in college dorms.
One of those dogs was a gift, some were rescues, all have been wonderful friends. Whether it was the two goofy Irish Setters, Finney and Tristan, the wonderful Newfoundland/Belgian Shepherd mix, Josh, the German Shepherd mix, Dusty, the Golden Retrievers, Dickens and Spenser and now, my Lane Bryant girl the Irish Wolfhound look alike, Gracie. They have all been the most constant and devoted companions. And, of course, now there are the three Golden Retrievers for whom Gracie and I have been surrogate parents for much of this past year, Bubba, Bébé and Kali.
I had expected their owner to ask us to care for them over Thanksgiving as he was hoping to visit relatives out of town. As it turned out that trip did not occur and so Gracie and I celebrated the holiday together. But on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I received a call from him to let me know that he wasn’t feeling well and thought that, if I could, it would be better for them to stay a few days with me rather than with his girlfriend and her three dogs. So I arranged to meet her at the dog park to pick up the kids. Gracie and I hadn’t seen them for just over two weeks.
When we got to the park, I could see Kali was the closest of the three. Her parents were at the far end and were facing away from Gracie and me. She suddenly spotted the two of us and took off in our direction, running and barking in her very treble voice. This caused mom and dad to turn around and they too began running toward us at full kilter.
I would have to say that this reunion lasted for at least five minutes, all three of them showering their affection on both Gracie and me and raising such a ruckus that four people who were passing by the outer fence of the park stopped to watch the whole thing. One of the men in the park came over and said I must be the “Dog Whisperer” of Las Vegas.
I don’t know why dogs seem to have an affinity for me or I for them. Perhaps it is because we are cast from the same mold of simplicity. They ask for so little. A home, some food and water and a little bit of love. Yet they return so much loyalty and affection for what we bestow on them. And as for me, the gratitude I see in their face after they have enjoyed a meal, followed by one of them curling up in my lap is the greatest gift I could imagine receiving.
If all our world leaders had a companion dog as a guide to teach them their ways this might be a more harmonious planet. For in the end, we make the choice if we should follow a path of anger and hatred and war – or whether we should walk down the road letting the simple joy of loving be our guide.
I decided to take a few weeks off from blogging. There was simply too much noise in the ether – and there still is. But I think the ultimate catalyst was an anonymous email I received. The title was “Get 3500 channels of TV – FOR FREE!”
I have to be honest and tell my dear readers that I didn’t open it – although I stared at the message for about five minutes before hitting the delete key.
As I looked at the title of this unsolicited missive strange and bizarre thoughts began ruminating. I began counting up the number of subjects with which I was familiar and the smaller number in which I had an interest. I don’t think I made it very far past 30 when I was running out of ammo.
I mean has someone invented a television channel devoted to discussions of gall stones; or one that extolls the virtues of exemplary professional athletes; or is there now a chess channel? I imagine that if these exist, there is a great deal of time that can be devoted to commercials – with which I am already overwhelmed.
Fortunately, for most of this time, I have been enjoying Gracie’s and the three golden retrievers’ company which has enabled me to maintain some sense of semblance and sanity. But it was because of them that I am writing this post (and another ten or so to follow which I have been mulling around during my blogging absence).
The five of us were at the dog park a few mornings ago when we ran into our friends who gather in the wee hours, just after the park opens at six o’clock a.m. After the kids took care of business, we merged into the gathering when I realized that the conversation had turned to a discussion of various ways that we could receive our television broadcasts.
One of the members of the group turned to me and asked, “Who do you use for your television service?” I responded, “Right now I have Cox Cable – but I’m thinking about cancelling it after the election.”
“Oh, are you going to go with DISH Network?”
“No, actually, I’m seriously thinking about cancelling it and not replacing it with anything.”
Despite the fact that the park has grass, the lull that came over every member of the group was so profound that you could have heard the proverbial pin drop. I have never seen a group of people who were so dumbstruck. Apparently they felt that anyone who chose not to spend their life watching television was at worst a cretin and at best mentally impaired. Because they are, by and large, a charitable group of people, I think they gave me the benefit of the doubt and put me in the second category.
I hope that none of my readers is too aghast at the concept that there is life beyond television. Sure there are a few things I might miss – but I suspect I will have more time to discover new and far more valuable ones. Books, music, nature and all sorts of other wonders in our wondrous world.
In the meanwhile I’ll just enjoy the tripe that bombards all of us (with special emphasis on the political ads). That should keep my blood pressure at fever pitch and my dopamine levels at record lows.
Go ahead, call me crazy. I know my friends at the park are thinking that anyway – and I kind of like the appellation. But remember, “Just because you’re crazy doesn’t mean that you have to be stupid.”