“…All along the watchtower, princes kept the view. While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too…” -Bob Dylan**
The other day, I had to take both dawgs to the veterinarian. I have to lay some groundwork for those who may not remember the older dawgs. Some years ago, we had several. At the time, the youngest and biggest was named Woof Wolf Beowulf. He was big about everything: big feet, big head, big wagging tail, big with affection, big about appetite, big about the results of appetite, and big about problems. He had an ear problem, and being true to pattern, has went about it in no small way.
From puppy-hood on, he never missed an opportunity to challenge Cosmo Topper who was his father, and like many doggy daddies, Topper wanted nothing to do with puppies. Their confrontations often resulted in Woof Wolf getting the worst end of it as Topper always got a mouthful of ear during the games.
Woof Wolf Beowulf’s ears took on the likeness of those of a bare knuckles boxer that won only enough fights to stay in the game. Both ears bore teethmarks,which added to the misery of his conditions. His ears itched, and by twisting his head rapidly back and forth, they flapped against the sides of his head with a violence that would burst blood vessels, and did. This lead to swelling. His ear lobes were swollen up like egg plants, and looked ripe. The swelling was severe, and looked as if they’d split open at the slightest touch.
Besides being war-torn, two other conditions affected his ears to make him crazy with itching. A family of ear mites had taken up residence on both sides of his head block. Also, each seasonal change brought the poor dawg into regular contact with something he would be allergic to. The allergies caused additional itching and inflammation, not that he needed any.
The ear mites evidently were having turf wars in the vicinity of his peanut-sized brain, and had dug trenches deep in his ear canals to set up some kind of home-front defenses, resulting in swelling and tenderness being added to his ear’s tenderness and swelling. His ears itched and were inflamed from being mauled, assaulted by pollen, mold, dust, and temperature changes, as well as run off the itchy scale by the hoards of mites camped out inside of his head.
He flapped his huge ear flaps so much that if he’d weighed less, I’m certain he would have flown away. At a time when we could barely afford dawg food, Woof Wolf needed surgery. They had to strip the veins in his ears, and keep him on expensive medicines that rivaled our grocery budget for the rest of his life.
Even so, the problem with his allergies never completely went away. Sometimes he would sit with a back foot shoved into each ear forming a kind of wheel and axle configuration. He would sit that way, dig in his ears, and pray a most lamentable prayer. I’ve never seen any other dawg do that. Somehow, we survived all that. Although he nearly drove me to bankruptcy, I still miss him, and often think of those pathetic ears.
When Lila’s ear flaps began showing signs of irritation, I called my broker to see how long it would take to liquidate my retirement holdings, and then took the dawg to the vet. I was suspicious of ear mites or allergies, and assumed it would be both, or whichever treatments would cost more. Sir Benson Zipper Dee Doo Dah went with us. Since Lila and Zipper like to share, I figured if she had an infestation, he would, too. As it turned out, Zipper’s ears were fine.
The examination showed Lila’s ears needed cleaning with products similar to the ones sold for feminine hygiene, and would require daily treatments with ear drops (prescription only) for the next few weeks. She had a yeast infection in both ears. Once that was announced, I was charmed by the way the vet referred to it as her “condition” during the rest of the visit. Seems the “condition” was a result of the constant grooming the puppies bestow upon each other.
Zipper, being a Boston terrier, has smaller earflaps that tend to stand erect and can dry out. Lila’s long ears hang down (except for occasional attempts to look stupid), and stay moist from the relentless licking she gets from her kennel mate. This provides the perfect environment for budding fungal microbes. Brewers and bakers may have need of a controlled yeast culture, but it is no benefit to a dawg.
Most of you manage some kind of budget, or are managed by one. Additionally, charts of accounts will tell us how the money is to be divided. The constant and regular search is for some discretionary spendable income not otherwise committed to a department, or required as a reserve for contingency. If a surplus nickel shows up, you can expect anyone who finds out about it to lend a hand in spending it. Lila Bea is a dawg, and has no hands, so she just lends an ear. As costly as it is, it is a rare experience, so I appreciate it.
The dawgs and I finally got home, and was settling in to my work. I’m sure the puppies were settling into theirs as well, which usually involved something done in a fully reclined position at that time of day. I’d been home for about an hour when the doorbell rang. Two young boys stood barefooted on my front porch holding a large cardboard box. I asked the nature of their kind visit. Immediately, the boys got down to business:
“Would you like to buy a cat?”
I immediately suspected they were sent here by my veterinarian, as I am the primary source of their revenue. I conjured up the image of me trying to get a cat’s medical card up to standards, and knew I was running out of wells to draw from. Perhaps a cat is not the last thing I need, but it would be close.
Then the lid of the box was opened revealing a young gray tabby that seemed to want out of the box. I resisted the urge to pick it up, because if I did, I knew the boys would never take it back whether I paid them for it, or not. The other resistance was from knowing the effect of holding a kitten, and I already have more attachments than an expensive vacuum cleaner, or a pneumatic tool kit as it is.
Making conversation, I asked:
“Did your cat have kittens? Got too many cats at your house right now?”
“No,” they replied: “We’re just trying to help our brother raise some money.”
Since I’m always needing to raise some money to help somebody’s brother, I understood, but circumstances were such that I had no need to pay good money for what was sure to be either a stray, or stolen cat. I presented to these fine entrepreneurs that the kitten would face difficulties here because I have two dawgs that might want to eat it. They didn’t care. Their task was to simply trade the kitten for some cash, and finding a good home for it seemed to be of little concern.
No doubt, that cat was headed for a tough life, and probably a short one. But keeping it here would transfer that potential to me, and I just wasn’t so moved. I had a dollar in my pocket, and gave it to the boys.
“If you don’t find a home for it, maybe this will help to get it something to eat tonight.”
As they walked back down the driveway, I knew none of that dollar would be used to feed the cat. They might collect a little sympathetic change, but in the end, that kitten would probably just be released from the prison of the box as soon as they either met their financial goal, or grew tired of it.
My neighborhood is not the prime marketplace to be selling anything, much less stray cats. We are a community of strays here; animal and human alike. In my case, it is from the straight and narrow, but others have strayed far away from work, and most other legal income producing activity, and seem to have lost their way back to it. These two young men were the only ones trying to do anything productive within several blocks around, and you had to admire their tenacity in the face of such hopeless odds. Maybe they’d get lucky and find a buyer. I hoped so, for the cat’s sake.
In a matter of minutes, the doorbell rang again. I was delighted to see the boys had not returned. Instead, I greeted two well dressed ladies who felt called upon to bring me literature, and explain to me why I would probably never be invited to attend the reception of the righteous in the hereafter. Without so much as proper introductions, which implied that whoever I might be didn’t matter, they began their lecture.
I asked them to pause for a moment, and brought Lila Bea to the door. I told the ladies I had to step to the back of the house for some brief but urgent business, and asked that for the sake of time, that they please continue and explain it to Lila, as she probably needed to hear it more than I did.
Zipper joined Lila at the door. After an awkward pause, I could hear the women talking to the puppies, but the two dawgs kept interrupting the sermon so much with whining and barking (none of which sounded like much of a confession) that the ladies finally went away. There are many dawgs on this street that need a talking to, and no doubt it was a day for it.
Lila Bea seemed sorry to see them go. Zipper didn’t care. Best I can tell, and without throwing unfair judgments in the direction of the visitors, Zipper and Lila are probably as likely to make it to heaven as any of the rest of us. I suppose I should be disappointed that they gave up on me so easily, but I wasn’t.
Often it is that we meet up with others who believe they are charged with the responsibility of letting us in on some truth that we cannot know without their help. I find it ironic that some hold to the curious idea that the peace that passes all understanding needs the intrusion of doorbells at regular intervals usually associated with a meal or nap time. That they do not recognize a person who has found the peace when they see one, suggests they might not know a whole lot about the product they are selling.
The approach is sometimes filled with a smugness that lets us know right away they covet our companionship only for the few required moments it will take for us to reject whatever it is they are offering. Those who do that seem to take pride in our rejection, and wear it like a badge of honor. It could imply that they really do not desire any long term relationship with us in this, or any other life. It makes me curious as to why they’d go to so much trouble to speak to me in the first place.
As the ladies walked up the street heading back to their car parked by the curb in the next block, they were approached by two little boys carrying a cardboard box. They all stood there together for a while longer than I was willing to watch, though I admit I was mildly curious as to whether the boys or the ladies would prove to be the better salespersons.
I also wondered if either of those women went home with a new cat. If they did, the workday of both teams would have been fruitful. The boys would have the funds for whatever their brother needed (probably to pay his parole officer), and some leaflets to share with the family at dinner. In some sense of the word, a salvation of some sort would have occurred, too–at least for the cat, though perhaps only a temporary one.
“…Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl; Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.”**
** From “All Along The Watchtower” Written by Bob Dylan
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