Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

Posted on February 16, 2022 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with no comments yet


Annie and friend – Kangiqsujuaq, Quebec


“And they called it puppy love,

Oh, I guess they’ll never know.

Puppy Love – Paul Anka

Earth to Len. Valentine’s Day is over, tossed to the curb for another 363 days. “Geez, Len. Are you suffering a Valentine’s Day hangover?”

In recent weeks leading up to VD, I waxed poetic about romance including dating guidelines. When did I become an expert on matters of the heart? And why, pray tell, am I continuing on with this theme? The short answer is that I am not talking about love of the human variety today.

“Raise a dog with sheep and it will love sheep.

Raise a dog with goats and it will love goats.

Raise a dog with people… you know the rest.”

Source unknown

“You’re barking up the wrong tree, Len.”

Those of you who know me well might be surprised that I would be writing about dogs. It’s not that I don’t like dogs. It’s just that I haven’t had a lot of experience with four legged creatures other than cats. Yes, our family had a dog when we were kids. Chipper was a “Heinz 57” specimen. While some dogs eat to live, Chipper lived to eat. Watching her waddle to the kitchen table was all the evidence you needed. I often wonder how she became fat. With ten of us around the table fighting for every scrap, it’s a little wonder that Chipper wasn’t skin and bones. Of course, we had liver twice a month so on these days she was certain to overeat.

Truth be told, I was nervous around dogs for the longest time. My edginess was warranted. When I was a youngster, we used to walk over to the Salt Ponds to skate. The confluence of two rivers overflowing their banks in a low-lying area, created the perfect conditions for a large outdoor skating heaven. When we weren’t in school, we spent every waking hour at the Salt Ponds pretending that we were the next Jean Belliveau or Gordie Howe.

In order to access the Salt Ponds, we had to go through one of the neighbor’s yard. On one such occasion, the neighbor’s dog took exception and came running after me baring its teeth. Before I could react, I had a 80 pound mutt hanging from my arse. It took a few of my friends a bit of time to extricate the dog from my rear end. I suffered a bite serious enough for a trip to the hospital. I suffered further indignity by having to drop my drawers and have a nurse poke a large needle into my butt – my first tetanus shot. I finally understood clearly the meaning of a pain in the ass.

With all the running I did on the back roads ten years ago, one would think dog attacks would be common. No, I didn’t carry a stick to ward off an attack. I had the comfort of my running partner. To say that Charlene was (and still is!) a no-nonsense person would be a gross understatement. On one of our runs out in the Ohio, a pit bull came running towards us, with harm in mind. Rather than high tailing it, Charlene faced down her attacker. She let out a string of expletives in a voice loud enough to break the sound barrier. I never saw such a frightened dog in my life. Its tail was between its legs as it made a hasty retreat.

On a few occasions, I have actually done some dog sitting. The first time was in Victoria when I looked after my late brother Tom’s golden retriever. Being a high energy dog, I was expected to walk Oslo twice a day which suited me just fine as I would kill two birds with one stone getting my daily walks. It didn’t take me very long to understand the true meaning of “babe magnet”. Now, in all of my years of running and walking, I have never been stopped by women who wanted to pat me or hand me a treat. It was hard to walk 100 yards before a gaggle of women stopped to worship Oslo. I seriously thought about adding a third walk each day.

Before I went to work in the north, I was cautioned about the preponderance of dogs. They are plentiful and often travel in packs. I’m sure that many a prospective teacher decided not to take a position for that very reason. It made me think about the old Jan and Dean song from 1963: “Two Girls For Every Boy”. In the north it’s more like “Five Dogs For Every Home”. Several of my younger colleagues became smitten with huskies and eagerly went and acquired a pup when news of a new litter spread throughout the community. So taken were they with their furry friends that they took to Facebook and Messenger, sharing every piddle and pee. I referred to their Messenger Page as “Pooch Porn”.

Fast forward to the present, if you consider a week ago the present. I was doing one of my daily 10km walks. I was out in the countryside when a dog came charging at me. Over the years, I changed my strategy when this type of thing happened. Rather than seize up, or worse still run, I stopped and went down on one knee. No, I wasn’t resorting to prayer. I was trying to adopt a non-threatening stance. I put out my hand as the dog approached, whispering sweet nothings to the pooch. He (or she) stopped barking and cautiously approached. The dog never got close enough for me to pet it, but the threat was over. I continued along my merry way.

I was a few hundred yards down the road when, low and behold, who should saunter up beside me but my new best friend. For the next 45 minutes, I had a companion. She (I made an executive decision and decided that it was a she) never came close enough for me to pat her but she was obviously happy to be along for the ride. It was strangely comforting to have a walking mate of the four- footed variety. A light came on. “So, this is one of the reasons people have dogs.” I made the turn to go back home, and the dog walked with me until she was back home. I hope she’s around when I do this route the next time.

So to all you dogs lovers out there, I leave you with this quote from Roger Caras:

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”

Have a great weekend.

P.S. We are not allowed to have animals in our apartment complex which is puzzling. They accepted me!

P.P.S. Catch Episode 6 of the Week45 podcast this Sunday, February 19th.

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