Thursday, June 17, 2010

No Stray Dogs in Vermont

I was driving to work today and had a revelation. Before I go further, I want to make something clear. There was no shaft of light from above. I was not knocked from a donkey and blinded by a brilliant light. Any burning bushes I might have seen were strictly of forest fire origin. The revelation was this … there are NO stray dogs in Vermont.

When I was a child, I relied on stray dogs. They comprised the available pet pool. Around home, dogs were just dogs. Unless, of course, they were hunting dogs. Even a poor man would pay $300-$400 for a good hunting dog. Paying good money for a pet was unheard of … at least in my circle. Fortunately for me, I lived just outside the town limits. Every year, when the dog tags were due, miraculously, dogs would appear in our neighborhood. Great dogs, of mysterious ancestry. They would ramble into our yard with delineated rib cages, begging for scraps. Yes, they did turn over the trash barrel on occasion. I loved them all. My dad, however, did not share my universal acceptance of them. His instructions were not to feed them (which we did) and rock them to chase them away (which we did not). They did not stay for long … a few days … but for that brief time, they were mine. Understand, in my world a stray dog was an endangered specie. Stray dogs that turned over the trash barrel in their search for food got 120 volts on their second trip (Dad and the neighbor were both electricians). There was a particular mutt once that I really got attached to and begged Dad to let me keep it. Dad was walking out of the woods with his rifle at the time. He just smiled and told me that if it came back to the house again, I could keep it. It didn’t and I did not figure it out until I was much older.

Here’s my revelation. There are no stray dogs in Vermont because of the animal rights people and the animal-lovers. No such thing as the wild and care free life on the road for a dog here. You will never see a dog hopping a freight and there no hobo dog encampments under the bridges. Were a dog to strike out here, minutes later, he would be pounced upon by hoards of animal rescuers. Before he could learn to spit tobacco, the dog would be warm, fed and lounging in front of someone’s fireplace. He might even be wearing a new jacket. It is the demise of the Huckleberry Finn’s of the dog world. Greyhounds probably have it worse. People can’t wait to snatch them from the clutches of the dog tracks. Ironically, I have never seen a rescued greyhound running. It must be a no-no in the rescued world. Locally, the people raised about $250,000 to build a new facility for the ASPCA. Even in winter, people sleep under the bridge in Brattleboro and the homeless shelters overflow. Whoever said that every dog has his day must have lived in Brattleboro at some point..

As far as I am concerned, Brattleboro has gone to the dogs

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New Chapters

I had an epiphany. I’m not sure what that is exactly though. I assume it to be some great moment of insight. I’m not so na├»ve as to believe that such instantaneous insight is an act of divine intervention into the lives of mere mortals. Frankly, my beliefs are more earthly. Blinding shafts of light viewed vertically, I generally assume to be meteors. Viewed horizontally, I take to be the headlights of a semi in the wrong lane. I try to hold the term “divine” in reserve for monumental situations like the taste of a HAP’s hot dog. Let’s say I had a thought and leave it at that.

A colleague of mine experienced a life-changing event – the loss of a spouse. We are not close friends in the usual sense. We don’t visit one another or even talk that much. But, I feel connected to her. I think I know her deep down inside. This may not be true, but it feels that way! It is like in Anne of Green Gables. When Anne looks at her reflection in the window pane at the orphanage, she knows the person she sees there … her kindred spirit. I feel this way with my colleague to some degree. Thus, her experience gave me pause. The situation reminded me of a book … and I thought, “Even old books have new chapters”. What if books had no end and were instead perpetually available for new chapters to be added. Who says the conclusion of a book is the purview of the author. Such audacity! To me, the classics are a perfect example of this idea. The classics have stood the test of time. They are read and reread … thought and rethought … imagined and re-imagined … over and over again. Can the story remain the same under these conditions or does the book become the cumulative experience of it all? In effect, new chapters are constantly being written. Are our libraries the accumulation of what has been or what will be?

Are our lives so different? When are the endings defined in our lives? Are they real or are we, like the reader, constantly reimagining what our lives have been or will be? Are we adding new chapters?

The End ( no strike this )

The Pause