Sunday, May 2, 2021

Life between the lakes, Part 45, special edition


The last couple of weeks have been tough. First there was my bout of bronchitis that slowed me down considerably. After a week of treatment, I felt better but not cured. Then I found myself making the trip to the clinic again and returning with a new diagnosis; Pneumonia, which knocked me out of the writing game for the better part of the week . This time I came home armed with new steroids, antibiotics and inhalers to combat it.

I'm not gonna croak, so there is no need to make a fuss.

Taking care of Jack and Needa is my immediate priority each day. While some days I would prefer to sleep past 5AM and skip our daily 2 miles, it has not been possible. They have adjusted well since moving into the wilderness and we have not missed our daily walks in five months.

Deer Park provides a beautiful backdrop for our walks and plenty of fresh air for my dogs. But they do not get the same socialization as they had in Royal Oak.

Needa especially craves attention. She will stop and turn around when she hears a car a half mile down the road, hoping someone is coming to see her. She did the same with snowmobiles this winter.

When I lived in Royal Oak, people always stopped me in the street to ask me about my greys.

“Got a minute?” they’d ask.

“I’ve got all day,” I’d reply and invite them out of their car to come and meet my lovelies.

Even in Deer Park, strangers continue to marvel at their beauty and temperament. If they get out to pet them nearly every person has commented on how Needa is the softest dog they’ve ever touched.

People usually ask about their racing careers and speed. In their prime, they’d race 550 yards (five and a half football fields) in about 31 seconds.

Let that sink in.

Jack and Needa are always anxious to see Aunt Carla when she’s outside and we are returning from a walk or when we meet in the breezeway that connects the living quarters.

I can count on one hand the number of visitors I’ve had since the move and it’s hard for me not to feel guilty. While this change of lifestyle has brought so much to me, it has also taken something away from my dogs.

Needa turns 12 today and Jack is 18 months ahead of her, going on 14 this fall. I’ve taken them on some journeys during our life together, sometimes out of my comfort zone. But they have adapted well as long as we were together.

There are few things I love more than the sight and feel of tired dogs in a room after a walk and a satisfying meal. Tonight I sat down to read and Needa assumed the greyhound “roach pose;” lying on her back, four legs fully extended in different directions with her soft white belly exposed. I rubbed it for about five minutes and could hear her low grumble of bliss, signifying happiness and comfort.

She doesn’t know it is her birthday or why I make so much fuss over her. If you are a dog owner and a friend of mine, you already know that treating everyday like a special day is something that comes easily.

These days she eats less and walks a little slower. But I’ve never felt such adoration from any of my dogs as I have with Needa. She remains the silly yet elegant lady of the house while a less refined Tiger Jack Burke rides on her coat tails of sweetness and beauty.

"What I would do for wisdom!" I cried out as a young man.

Evidently not much. Or so it seems.

Even on walks I follow the dog.”

-Jim Harrison  

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