... a few growls from the peanut gallery
Don't be fooled by the tranquility of this backyard paddock view.
Can there be a Mr. Scrooge in February? If so, I am he.
Amidst all the goo in this special issue of the Melrose Mirror, count me among the grouches who growl when the subject of pets is raised. I would never be admitted to an Animal Lovers Lodge.
There's good reason why I plead guilty to critter contempt: I am allergic to dogs and cats (asthma), both my cheeks were nearly bitten off by a neighborhood dog when I was 4 years old (the cheeks of my face, that is); my oldest daughter, then 5, tried to feed a few oats to a horse as he leaned over a wall, only to have him take her whole hand into his mouth and nearly chomp it at the wrist; my #3 daughter at age 7 was bitten on the chest as she generously brought flowers she had picked to an ornery pony I owned; my oldest was deprived of a Myopia Hunt Club horse show title by our horse who picked a bad time to get jumpy; I lost several nights sleep because of a family of white skunks who tried to take advantage of my hospitable nature, an episode recounted in a Melrose Mirror story in September.
Just to fill in a few holes in my sorry sagas:
1. It was my fault that my cheeks were bitten. It was a 100-degree day, I was playing at a friend's house and we decided to move to my yard. The dog was lying in the driveway, quite content. He always came with us wherever we went, so when he refused to heed our calls, I went back and pulled him by his collar. At that point he leaped up and bit me, first on the left cheek and then on the right. My most memorable recollection was my mother running through the neighbor's garden while carrying me to the car to go to the hospital. I tried to tell her she wasn't supposed to cut through Mr. Herman's garden.
2. Again it was my fault that my daughter almost lost her hand. I lifted her up so she could feed the horse and failed to tell her to keep her palm open. He took her whole hand into his mouth and only relented as I pried his upper and lower jaws open in a manner that would have made Crocodile Dundee proud.
3. OK, so maybe the pony incident was my fault, too. It was dusk; I was shingling the stall roof when I saw my daughter approaching the paddock area, a bouquet of daisies in hand. I knew the pony was hungry and half blind. Sure enough, he mistook her flesh for the flowers. My the time I scurried down the ladder, the damage was done. He broke the skin and you could see his teeth marks, but luckily he didn't draw blood. He did draw a whack in the rump from me but probably had no idea what he did to deserve it.
Creme Soda, ridden by Lee Anne, never saw a fence she didn't want to jump.
4. Now we come to Myopia. My daughter Lee Anne's horse, Crème Soda, was in position to win a big horse show going into the last event which involved hurtling several close-together jumps in a fenced-in circle. Crème Soda was last, and all the other finalists had knocked over at least one jump. Boomp, boomp, boomp, boomp ... Crème Soda sailed over every jump. Only problem was she was having so much fun, she also jumped over the fence and was immediately disqualified.
5. Well, if you missed the white skunk story, you can read it at http://makeashorterlink.com/?A269123F2.
You can understand my chagrin over the fact that all four of my daughters have dogs and innumerable cats. One actually has two dogs, cows, pigs, roosters, cats, etc. She can't be her father's daughter.
Recently I visited my California daughter only to find her roommate had bought a dog that had been abused as a pup. "He's a bit high strung," daughter Jennifer warned. "He's wary of people he doesn't know. Don't look him in the eye. He doesn't like that."
There would have been no threat of me looking him in the eye if he were on the East Coast, because I would have turned and left. But it's a long way home from San Francisco, so I stayed.
An hour after I settled in, he ambled past his two female caregivers, came up to where I was sitting and rested his head on my lap, where he remained for several minutes. Maybe it was just a case of male bonding. Didn't he know I'm a modern-day Scrooge?
February 7, 2003