This morning I took Ricky to the vet to have a lump on his haunch looked at, to have a cyst removed, and for some routine bloodwork. Two hours — and $896.96 later (!!!), I picked him up, good as new. Ah,yes — just another day in the life of a high-maintenance beagle. (At least he got a spiffy new bright blue soft padded bandage out of it . . . for only $33.08 )
Years ago, long before Ricky’s time, I spotted — from the window of my attic study — a gaggle (a gaggle?) of little ducklings frantically
swimming around in circles in our backyard pool. I remember being on deadline at the time — and hoping that this would somehow turn out not to be my problem. But every time I looked out . . . there they were, paddling for dear life. I knew I couldn’t bear having these fluffy little creatures drown on my watch, so I went out and tried to scoop them to safety with the skimmer, but as soon as I got near them, the mama duck would wildly flap her wings at me and squawk bloody murder. So I went into the pool house, took out a bunch of foam kickboards, and lay them at intervals around the edge — one end in the water, the other end balancing on the lip of the pool. To me, what I had done looked pretty obvious: ramps to safety. To the ducklings, though . . . they were just another obstacle, a drawbridge to swim under. I returned to work in my study, but I kept my eye out on the ducklings, hoping they’d see the light. The ducklings just kept swimming.
Eventually something drew me away from my window perch. Later, when I checked up
on the situation, the little ducks were all safely out of the pool. I have no idea how they made it. Something tells me, though that they never used my ramps.
This interlude came back to me when my friend Jeff sent me some photos of his dog, Toby the Bichon. Toby’s 11, and not as spry as he once was. Jeff says that while Toby is still able to jump up onto their bed, it’s getting harder and harder for him. So Jeff bought Toby his own personal staircase. It came with lots of assembly necessary — and Jeff is only negligibly more handy than yours truly. But he persevered, and managed to put it together, and installed it at the foot of the bed. That was over a week ago. He tells me that Toby sniffs it. And growls at it. And nudges it with his nose. But as to the staircase’s actual function? Toby still has no clue.
Proving, once again, the ancient Chinese adage: You can lead a dog to a staircase, but you can’t make him climb.
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