September 9th 2007 12:24 pm
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As you may have deducted from my earlier picture posts I was recently in Skagway, Alaska.
Skagway is a tourist town. Four cruise ships were in port on the early September morning I landed by Alaskan State Ferry. By eight o’clock I was enjoying a good sniff around the usual fudge shops and ice cream parlors. I particularly liked the train station that sold tickets on the narrow gage line to White Horse, YT.
Mom found a coffee joint and ordered up a couple of mighty fine smelling breakfast sandwiches. (Anything with cheddar equals mighty fine in my book.)
As we finished the ships began to release their holds—thousands of people.
And on the street, every third person would say, "I thought it was a bear." Now, as any newfy audience understands, this is nothing new.
Dad would mutter under his breath, “no you didn’t.”
My mom would just laugh and say “put another dollar in the newfy fund.”
But this day in Skagway was different. I'm no longer sure I approve of the comparison. For not even 24 hours had past since I had truly realized what a bear is. What a bear means.
It was in Haines up at Chilkoot Lake. A warm day, the kayak tourists pulling up to the boat ramp. Dad had the bumper and I was on my leash. The Salmon were jumping, as they entered the lake from the river which fed directly into the bay. Boiling would be a strong term, but it was with an amazing frequency that these salmon splashes would ripple the calm waters.
Dad thought I might go hot dog hunting like Nanook and Pooka, only for real salmon…he called it, "bear style." I was excited to go swimming…well, why not, just look at the place. Paradise!
Dad looked at his watch, then at mom: wet dog, small trailer(one bed), late afternoon—let’s not.
We walked back up to the car, and we just stared at the scenery. Until the man next to us woke us from our halcyon moment with his muted exclamation, “oh, there he is…”
…And, there, right under me, in the water, I saw this big brown Newfoundland!
Now what would you do? My mom is brown, all my sisters are brown…I love browns! My tail was wagging and I just couldn’t wait to see him. Maybe even go swimming with him…I like salmon, he likes salmon. He could teach me!
He rose a little further out of the water. I could barely contain myself with glee.
Then, I caught his sent on the breeze. It was immediate. I experienced the sudden spine tingling realization that what you know so intimately is not at all what you think. It is emotional, primal, an almost pain in the pit of your stomach…
…an adrenalin that demands every ounce of your being protect what is yours, to scream, to howl like only wolves can howl.
That is what I did on this day…and that is what I did on every other encounter I had with a bear. There were seven.
As for the cruise ship tourists in Skagway...they continued to call me bear, to pet my head, to ask if we lived there and express their shock that cars could reach such a place.
So many people pet me that my head floof smelled of stale perfume until I could get to the next bear-free lake.
Be well my dogster friends...it's good to be home.
July 23rd 2007 5:28 pm
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Today was an unexpected two parent day.
My dad finished celebrating the Grand Re-Opening of Museum of Contemporary Craft. It's been taking a lot of his time lately.
A movie about my dad's work They say I'm the unofficial mascot. Though there is another dog looking lovingly at that title.
So anyway, we went for a long walk down to the pool. I sat poolside and we watched the kids splash and play. Some day I'm going to get to be in there with 'em. Yep, someday. It looks so much cleaner than our river.
Off to go wag my tail some more.
Over & out,
June 20th 2007 11:16 pm
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Truman's Grandpa writes the letter from the publisher in the Milford Cabinet (A NH weekly newspaper)
Truman enjoyed this remembrance of Taffy, his beloved Viszla and asked me to share it with you all here.
This is how it was
Letter from the Publisher
(a link to the full article)
Published: Thursday, Jun. 7, 2007
By William B. Rotch, Publisher Emeritus
An excuse, if one is needed, for writing these weekly essays is that frequently I come across bits of prose that bring back memories of events half-forgotten, such as long walks in the woods with Taffy. Taffy was a vizsla, a breed of dog that runs exceedingly fast, that can be loyal and affectionate. Here are paragraphs that brought back a flood of memories. They appeared in the Cabinet just 25 years ago;
* * *
Taffy is a bird dog, not a beaver dog. She finds beaver boring. I found this out last weekend as Taffy and I walked around Tenney Pond, a secluded body of water near the western border of Hancock.
Now and then I would stop to cast a monofilament line with a hook baited with worms into the still waters, only to conclude each time that the pond is inhabited by millions of redfin shiners. Taffy has a disdain for fishing. It is almost as boring as watching me cut wood. She prefers a companion who is always on the move.
I thought she might change her mind when we saw the beaver. He was a big one and he swam straight toward us. He looked angry. He slapped his tail, kicked up his heels, and disappeared, only to emerge six feet nearer to where we stood. Taffy yawned. As we walked along the shore the beaver swam beside us, perhaps 20 feet away. Once he came near enough for me to touch him with my fishing rod. Every minute or so he would slap the water and dive. “Go away,” he seemed to say. “This is my pond.”
I could sympathize. It is a nice pond and it was a nice day. There was no way to explain to the beaver that Taffy and I were not the ones who left beer cans on the shore, that we were just interested in the wild azalea coming into bloom, in the banks of hobblebush, in the patches of white and lavender violets that bordered the muddy logging road.
We left the pond to the beaver and the redfin shiners. Taffy romped through the pale green fronds of young bracken, the clumps of ladyslipper and the highbush blueberry covered with white bells. Let the beaver have his pond! Then Taffy’s nose picked up a new scent. Here was something really exciting! I shouted to her — shouted at her would be more accurate — while the porcupine started up a tree.
The porky sat on a branch, well out of reach, while Taffy danced at the base of the tree. She could see it was no use.
“Come on, Taf,” I said, and started along the path. The dog jumped at the trunk one more time, then started on ahead, sniffing for more excitement.
I looked up at that ball of fur and quills sitting on a high branch. “Thanks, porcupine,” I said aloud. “I’m so glad you got up that tree in time.”