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‘My mind,’ he said, ‘rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation.’
I have not told you, dear reader, about one of my hobbies. I have engaged in a lengthy apprenticeship with Man, who loves working on cars. Since he was a boy, he has worked on old cars, most notably a Jaguar XJ6L and the MGB you see before you.
I have felt very grown up and responsible, now that Man has allowed me to assist him in his technical labors. I oversee all his work, and sometimes provide moral support or distraction, which are important parts of the process.
I have learned a lot about how these metal beasts function, and would pit my knowledge against that of any other canine. I am invigorated by the scent of the oils and the heat of the welding. I love the mental exercise of problem-solving with Man to create the ultimate vehicle, which might even run faster than I can on my own mortal legs.
My only complaint is that the MGB is a little small for a dog of my–majesty. I can’t sit comfortably on the floor or the seat. As a passenger, I prefer the family SUV, though as a connoisseur and mechanic-in-training, I share Man’s passion for vintage cars. Best of all, I love the Man-dog time we spend together, which has deepened our relationship.
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I had some fun with my last poem, so I thought I would give another one a try! After all,
To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.
-Robert Frost, courtesy of quotegarden.comMy Favorite Things Carrots, broccoli, peanut butter! Could there be anything better? Carrots: moist, crunchy… Brocolli: textured, fun to chew to bits. Peanut butter: sticks on my tongue as I lick it— salty, sweet, perfect. Let’s not forget the cold Yoghund and Frosty Paws! Ice cream: perfection. *image of yoghund from http://www.yoghund.com/products/index.php *image of FrostyPaws from https://www.facebook.com/FrostyPaws
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I have had the good fortune to meet a new friend, Murphy. Sadly, Murphy lives many hours away, but his people are Woman’s cousin and her boyfriend, so I am certain that our paths will cross again.
Murphy and I had much in common, in particular our passion for ball chasing and catching, as well as for good, old-fashioned running.
Murphy is quite young, at nearly a year old. I was impressed by the way his paws seemed barely to touch the ground as he ran and pranced gracefully in play.
I quite enjoyed meeting Murphy, who seemed a sensible and skillful dog whose company I look forward to enjoying again. I think I’ll give up tennis, though. The pavement of the court was a bit rough on my pads.
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The sun does not shine upon this fair earth to meet frowning eyes, depend upon it
-Charles Dickens, courtesy of litquotes.com
As spring has turned to summer, I have continued to follow Mr. Bailey’s advice to live life to the fullest and wait for the answer to the coyote question to come to me, at least for now. I have been spending a good deal of time paying visits to Mr. Bailey’s home and enjoying the summer sun, the soft earth and the feel of the gentle wind in my fur as I romp around the yard.
Mr. Bailey confided in me that Woman’s brother, who is currently staying in Mr. Bailey’s home, will be getting a puppy in a few days’ time. I congratulated him, but Mr. Bailey expressed some reservations.
“I am not as young as I once was, despite my incredible athleticism, Humphrey. Puppies are exhausting and they get into everything.”
“Yes, I suppose so,” I said to Mr. Bailey. “Yet, puppies also sleep a lot, so you’ll still have some time to yourself.”
Mr. Bailey seemed somewhat cheered by this and joined me for a stroll in the summer sunshine.
After we’d run around a bit, Mr. Bailey went in to check on his people and I decided to go for a swim. In the past, when I went for the pond, which often smells intriguingly strongly of algae and which provides a home for several slippery frogs, Man and Woman would say “No, stop!” but today they seemed resigned that I would swim. It was a hot day. They threw the stick for me a bit, and I enjoyed my splash in the pond, though I did hear the word “bath” bandied about quite a bit as I leaped in and out of the water.
It was easy today, in this gorgeous weather, to recapture the feeling I’ve often had of my own connection to nature. I could not help but wonder if the coyotes, in retracing my steps and Mr. Bailey’s, could sometimes imagine themselves part of our domestic sphere in the same way that I could often feel myself to be a creature of the forest.
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Friendless I can never be, for all [dog]kind are my kindred, and I am on ill terms with no one member of my great family.
-Charles Dickens, Master Humphrey’s Clock, courtesy of litquotes.com
While I endeavor to develop a suitable plan or to hear from Edgar–or both, I have decided that it cannot be ill to befriend additional local canines. To this end, I’ve convinced Man and Woman to take me further afield, to other neighborhood parks to meet other dogs.
I am a most congenial animal and get along with every dog I should happen to meet, so long as she or he is largely free of character defects, as I am. I do like to play with all the toys at once, so of course, friends of mine must take this into consideration and accept their roles in Nature’s hierarchy. I am as I was made. I do love to have other dogs chase me, and occasionally I meet a worthy opponent who can beat me to a ball when it is thrown or who can manage to relieve me of the ball once it is in my jaws. At other times, I love for my canine companions to chase me and to strive to take the ball, even if they strive in vain.
But I ramble…
I only met a few dogs this morning, and do not have photographs to share, but I will keep a careful record of those I meet here, to aid my recollections when I speak to Edgar. It may be that we can share our mission with worthy dogs who can help us to overcome the coyotes.
In that spirit:
I met a young pup who looked to me to be a beagle. He was very friendly, though a bit intimidated by my size and noble bearing. We sniffed one another quite politely, but were not able to engage in a very meaningful conversation.
Other dogs I hallooed from afar, including a charming Airedale Terrier and another German Shepherd, like myself.
The park was quite lovely. I found many new scents and paused a moment to view the hydrant in the midst of the trees and clover–an object dear to human and canine set strangely in nature’s glorious flora.
Near the end of my stroll with Woman and Man, we stood for a moment on a bridge. I looked out between the railings and mused once more on the strange combination of human industry and bucolic landscape which I could see before me. Just so are humans and dogs combined, are they not? Mostly, they can coexist quite peacefully, yet there is an important balance which must be maintained.
There are some fields near Manchester, well known to the inhabitants as “Green Heys Fields,” through which runs a public footpath to a little village about two miles distant. In spite of these fields being flat, and low, nay, in spite of the want of wood (the great and usual recommendation of level tracts of land), there is a charm about them which strikes even the inhabitant of a mountainous district, who sees and feels the effect of contrast in these commonplace but thoroughly rural fields, with the busy, bustling manufacturing town he left but half-an-hour ago. Here and there an old black and white farmhouse, with its rambling outbuildings, speaks of other times and other occupations than those which now absorb the population of the neighbourhood.
-Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Barton
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It is not easy to walk alone in the country without musing upon something.
-Charles Dickens, courtesy of litquotes.com
I ran and ran and ran. I sniffed the flowers. I sniffed Mr. Bailey’s property lines. I ran. I hurtled through the bushes, the trees, the undergrowth. I ran.
No matter how much I ran, I could not push the thoughts out of my head. Edgar had much to tell during his mother’s day weekend visit, and his words have been running through my head again and again since then, at a faster and more persistent pace, even, than I, in my Olympiad greatness, can achieve.
“The coyotes are getting ready to make their move,” Edgar told me. “They suspect that we are investigating their activities and they have changed their timeline.”
“But what are they planning to do?”
“I can’t be absolutely certain, but from what I’ve gathered, they want to live a lifestyle more like yours and Mr. Bailey’s and Maggie’s. They want to be snuggled and teased and fed in a bowl. They want vet visits where lights are shined in their ears and their ribs are felt by people with advanced degrees. They want to be played with and disciplined and crate-trained.
“They want all this, but they also want their freedom. They want the moonlight on their fur and they want to howl in the night in order to strike fear into all of civilization.
“To achieve this, they have made a pact with domesticated animals sympathetic to their cause. In exchange for their cooperation, the coyotes will allow these domesticated pets to roam free in the forest and will let them take forays into the world of the wild.”
“But Edgar, that doesn’t sound so terrible. Why shouldn’t they get a little affection? Why shouldn’t pets like me run free in the wilderness?”
“Because, Edgar, they will not keep their part of the deal. They will attack the animals they made the bargain with once they get what they want. Further, they are not fully in control of their wild instincts. They will tear homes apart: they will eat carpets and shred drapes; they will howl and wake all the babies; they will scratch the floors; they will bite the hands that feed them.”
Even as Edgar said it, I knew it was so.
“What will we do?” I asked him. “What is our course?”
“I wish I knew,” Edgar said. “I wish I knew.”
I realized then how much I had depended on Edgar, and how much faith I had put into believing that he would somehow make everything turn out all right. I needed to help him, now, to formulate a plan. I told him I would think on it, and he made plans to come to see me again as soon as he might, so that we could discuss our next move.
“Leave word with the chickens if you have news,” he said. “I’ll do the same.”
Since that night, I have woken, legs pumping in terror, many times. The strain of this situation upon my nerves has been great. This weekend, as I ran past the chickens’ enclosure, I listened for word, but there was none…and I had none to leave.
Mr. Bailey observed my frantic racing and bid me pause. “You will run yourself ragged, Humphrey,” he said. “This is not the way to solve a problem. Rest, sniff about you, and the solution will come to you when you least expect it.”
Working hard to place my trust in Mr. Bailey’s oft-proved wisdom, I slowed my pace and smelled the hydrangeas and other lovely plants of the yard.
I have no plan yet, but I will make one. Together, Edgar and I will save us all.
Dear Reader, I know that I have not been as diligent in my scribblings (or typing) of late. There has been much to see and do, and our apartment has been busy with the comings and goings of Man and Woman.
Yesterday, Man and Woman took me to the beach. We had not been there for some time, as the weather had been rainy and quite cold, but this weekend brought sun and milder temperatures, and we ventured forth.
Woman and Man helped in my training by hiding rocks and letting me sniff them out and find them. I am certain that this skill will be vital in the times to come. I hone it now so that I may be useful to Edgar and the cause.