First an announcement about my novel, DEAD FIISH and What the Blue Jays Know. It will now be released April 22. Earth Day. Certainly an appropriate day for a novel about environmental activists with talking corvids as characters.
OK. Now a few pictures. Then a story.
So, what does the picture up above on the right have to do with the bird on the left? And the dogs to the left?
The first dog, the fawn bulldog, is Dora. In this picture she is still able to walk in the woods, something she loved to do, but couldn't do well.
In my last post, I discussed the difficulty of managing Dora, who eventually was legally blind and deaf, because of her arthritis and tendency to wander. The picture above was her last walk in the woods. Sadly, she deteriorated fast after this picture. That deterioration resulted in constant wandering.
Daisy protected her, or at least stayed by her, which gave me comfort. I felt OK when Daisy was in the yard and that was a false sense of security. Because as much as Daisy looked after Dora, she was unreliable. Sometimes she'd bark when Dora went wanderer mode. Sometimes she'd just trot back to the door. So, I still had to be careful when I let them out.
When Dora went wanderer mode, she'd walk to this huge white pine near the fence. Beyond this white pine was an incline, a very slight incline, but still enough of a slope to be a problem for a dog with severe arthritis. But if the dog managed this incline, she would reach the fence where she could use it, along with the nose, for guidance. Using the fence as guidance, Dora would wobble around the property, ending up at the shed. Once Dora hit the shed, she was happy because behind the shed was a place with no fence, which meant the pond was there for her. She knew if she could get around that shed, she'd be mere yards from the pond. I have no idea why she wanted to be in that pond. I suspect the pond had a strong smell and it was this smell that pulled at her. When you can't see and can't hear, I suppose you gravitate towards smells because it's the one thing you can do. Or maybe she just wanted to swim, even though she couldn't swim, she could barely walk. The rocks near the pond were slippery and if she fell in, she would have drowned.
I would watch her and always run out to retrieve her right when she hit that hill. Sometimes I'd let her reach the fence and watch her walk its periphery. I had a leash but always forgot it, or could not find it when Dora reached the danger zone. I eventually tied the leash to the door, but when I saw her at the fence, or worse, gone, I didn't spend the time untying the leash, I just opened the door and ran out. I know what this makes me look like. I know . It's just that when I am focussed, I forget things. And while I went out with her when I could, she usually stayed out, or wanted to stay out, a long time. I'd go back inside and look out the window. If I ever saw her gone or about to leave, I'd run out, several times forgetting my leash.
Running after a rather heavy bulldog with no leash usually means one has to break one's back to get the bulldog home. I have a bad back and there were days it didn't work after either carrying her home, or leaning over, pulling her home, whilst she resisted.
Then there was one day I went inside for a moment, quick moment. Truly, it was a breath of a moment. I do not know what happened in that moment, why I went inside, but I came back outside and there was Daisy, looking a bit sheepish. And no Dora. I ran around the yard, the neighbor's yard. No Dora. I don't know why I didn't see her in the neighbor's yard because she was there, probably by a bush or behind a tree.
I could hear the blue jays, yelling everywhere. I assumed a hawk was in the area. They were in my trees. They were in the neighbor's trees. I wasn't paying that much attention to anything because I started to panic. I ran down the street thinking she had wobbled off. No dog.
As I walked back up the driveway, I saw a flash of fawn in the neighbor's backyard. I could hear the blue jays everywhere. There she was--right by the pond bent over as if she were going to take a big gulp of bacteria infested water, then fall in and drown and die. I yelled. Of course yelling at a deaf dog does no good. She didn't take a gulp. She didn't jump in. She just sniffed and moved towards the water. I started running.
When I reached her, I grabbed her by the collar, but of course she didn't want to go anywhere, which meant I had to pull her, which did no good and wasn't really a healthy way to move an arthritic dog. So, I picked her up and carried her home. She was heavy, I have a bad back. I had to rest a few times, but I finally made it to my house. My back was in bad shape for a few days.
About four days after this drama, we were cleaning the yard and I noticed this black synthetic strap (see photo above) lying on the ground. There were clips on both ends that indicated it was supposed to be attached to something or was meant to attach one object to another. The strap was very light, as light as a pencil.
I could not find anything it was connected to in my yard. We own nothing that required these types of straps. Even our life preservers don't have these straps. I checked the garage, nothing. Shed, nothing. Did it blow in from another property?
Then I realized where I found it. It was slightly beyond the white pine near the incline Dora usually wobbled off to when attempting her wandering escape.
I studied the strap. I realized if I clipped one end to Dora's collar, I could actually use it as a leash. And a leash would obviously be what one would think I needed if one observed me constantly running out and dragging my dog home, or carrying my dog home. Perhaps one who flew above us all and noticed other people using these lines attached to dogs, walking down the street. One would think, well this woman who feeds us is one of the dumb ones. We need to find her a line.
(If you read the book, you can see how this influenced my thinking.)
Did the blue jays find this somewhere and drop it on my property right where Dora usually ended up? It was certainly light enough for bird to carry. Did they think I was kind of dumb and they needed to help me out by finding me this leash? Are Corvids that smart? Well, are they?
I have no idea. Dora eventually left us, but until she passed on, I used this strap. I walked her around the yard with it, just in case the blue jays gave it to me.
I like to write about people, animals, dogs. I enjoy ideas, good books about ideas, funny books about ideas, funny people who have ideas, advocates for people who don't have voices to express their ideas, and animals who have ideas we can't understand.