Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
On our last journey into the Dark Heart of America a few months ago, one of the new guys we had hired to take care of the property looked over at Action Dog and said, “She’s a little fat, isn’t she?”
Fat in the same way that Sylvester Stallone was when he was making the original Rocky movies, perhaps.
Action Dog, She of the Several Names - Starla, Daddy’s Girl, and Starla, What The Hell Are You Doing Now? - has probably reached her 12th birthday this year. We aren’t too terribly sure, since Action Dog, like the rest of our brood, came from an abusive home, a place filled with people who seemed to believe that animals were all born house-trained, and took out their displeasure on her when she didn’t behave like a creature in a Disney movie.
As near as we can work out, Action Dog is the result of a act of love between a Collie and an Alaskan Malamute. She can chase a Frisbee even when the yard is covered with ice, with a wild, savage joy in her eyes, not slipping even an inch.
The self-appointed “Cat Police,” she knows where each and every cat is in the house at any particular moment. If I say, “Starla, where is Hemingway?” she will take me right to him, even if he is taking a nap in a place he thinks we don’t know about.
At a rest stop in Oklahoma once, seeing several large Buffalo in a corral, she thought it might be a great idea if she could persuade me to let her off the leash so that she could pursue them.
Several nights a week we go for a walk in our neighborhood. It’s a nice little place which was all wooded area 30 years ago, but you wouldn’t know that now. We slip on the leash and head out the door.
There is so much to explore!
A walk at night, as pleasant as it might be, is pretty much the same thing all the time for a human if we are walking in the same area. But for a dog? Each and every adventure is like a journey into new terrain.
Though the sidewalks and houses may be the same, there are so many smells that I am not privy to, and so many things that she sees which I do not. The rabbit running 30 feet away which makes her strain on her lead, the fences which keep other dogs in, the candy wrappers.
Other people passing us in the night, some pausing to say hello to “the puppy.”
Smelling the tires of our cars - have we been anywhere she should know about?
The walks don’t take very long, but we have enjoyed ourselves. Sometimes she seems a little more tired at night when we approach the house, which concerns me, but these are the vagaries of age. I think she still has a few more years of enjoying life in her yet.
And I still have a few more years of enjoying her company to look forward to, I think.
Canine bathroom habits and personal standards
When we leave the house for our walks she will invariably do her business on our front lawn, and I will say, “Good girl!”
She will give me a look which pretty much translates as “Boy, you set your standards pretty low, don’t you?”
Zorro: Tyrone Power was nothing like this
I’ve just reread Zorro, by Isabel Allende, and if it isn’t on your bookshelf yet, you are missing a treat. Allende, the author of such excellent novels as The House of the Spirits and Daughter of Fortune, has taken the legend of Zorro in a completely new direction.
The story is complex, and Allende handles the characters - both new and familiar - with ease. This is a great book to curl up with on a cold winter night. It is full of high adventure and masterful writing, with the story of the masked avenger avenger told from a decidedly feminist perspective.
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To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old. - Oliver Wendell Holmes
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