That Special Dog

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I opened my computer this morning not knowing what I would write about and looked at the photo above which is my current desktop pic.  Kids and dogs, kids and this dog.

I haven’t written much lately about Chester.  He doesn’t currently live in Rowe with me, rather than stay in the freedom of country life he would rather be at the shop with Bill.  Apparently there isn’t enough social interaction here.  He just really loves Bill and always wants to go everywhere with him so . . .  I pretend I’m okay with it.

Weekends are a different story.  He plays a lot.  Goes swimming at least once a day and when we do take out the boat he is very happy to go with us.  It’s all about the games.  There are tennis balls and frisbees on the boat and he knows it.  He will be playing fetch for hours, not just minutes.

We had company a couple of weekends ago that he loved more than anything. An eleven year old boy who seemed to be pretty committed to the game as well. Hours upon hours of fetch – on dry land and in the lake.

Watching these two you realize how great life can be, how great it should be.  They were so happy in each other’s company.

Chester seeks out children.  He loves them.  He is the most gentle animal and seems to be able to sense exactly what game will work with whatever age the child is.  If they are scared or nervous he gently helps them to warm up to him.  His goal in life is to make every kid want a dog.  I have had to tell more than one parent that not all dogs are like him, he’s special. He has been this way since he came to us.

I told a friend of mine whose business is training dogs that I have never had a dog quite like him.  He told me I had found my lifetime dog (he was still waiting for his).  He is right.  I’ve had a few dogs, there is a hierarchy in remembering them – from the best to the worst.  I loved them all but wow, Chester is it, there will never be another.

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A Side Note on Shared Experience

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I had to post this, especially after the Nature vs. Nurture thing.  This is one of the experiences that is mentioned to me the most by my father (and probably sister and brother as well).  My father thinks it’s funny that Sue thought we were going to fire her out of the cannon.  As you can see she doesn’t look thrilled.  This was taken at Fort Ticonderoga around the first of July 1964.  Forts were another of the “must see” on our family vacations.  What I remember is the cannon was HOT.  “Let’s sit the kids on the cannon in the midday July sun”.  Probably had third degree burns but never complained.

It’s amazing how this one event has been talked about for almost 50 years – by all of us.  These are the things that make us who we are.

Kids and Kids

620620 Kids with kids (1)When we were kids we didn’t have a dog, in fact I didn’t get my first dog until I was well into my twenties.  We had goats.  Really we had just one goat and her name was Linda (farthest on the right in the photo above). I’ve often thought about this and have come to the realization we had goats instead of dogs because my father had goats instead of dogs when he was a child.

When Linda was born my father asked what we wanted to name her and we thought we would name her after our beloved babysitter.  My father always laughed about how insulted Linda’s father was that we’d named our goat after her.  My mother always said it was because we loved her.

620620 Kids with kids (2)My father loved his goats.  He bought an old barn in another part of town and had it moved to the property on Potter Rd.  A few guys that my father worked with at the plant helped move that building.  The road was a dead end at the time so they had my younger brother hold a traffic flag on the side of the road towards the end – to keep him out of trouble I’m sure.  I think he stood there for a long time.  Dad fit out that building for various animals that we had at the time.

620620 Kids with kids (3)I like the fact that my father was such a resourceful man.  Everything was scrounged from somewhere else.  The ultimate in recycling.  Old snow fence kept the kids in (goats and us apparently). Does anyone remember that fencing?  They used it to cut down on the drifting snow I believe, now they just let it blow.  I’m thinking the barrel in the photo above may have been one he hauled water in during the summer.  We hadn’t yet dug an artesian well on the property so we used a hand dug well with a hand pump (my poor mother). In the summer it went dry and Dad hauled water up to the house in barrels from the Town Hall.  It was almost a year after we moved into that house in Rowe before we had indoor plumbing.  A child’s perspective is so different from an adult’s.  I remember being told that we always had to keep the metal pitcher next to the pump full, it was used to prime it.  On hot days Linda would drink out of it.  The pitcher got stuck on her head one afternoon when the water level was low and she was sipping the last of it.  She wasn’t amused but we certainly were.

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We had Linda for many, many years.  We put her in a car we had for the Old Home Day Parade with a sign my mother made that said “Rowe. A Great Place to Raise Kids”.  We played with her like she was a dog.  She would follow us around the pastures she was in. She would rear up and butt you with her head while you were with her, in a playful goat kind of way.   There were friends we had that she liked and some that she didn’t.  If she didn’t like you she would try to pin you against a tree or the barn with her head.

Barnyards have pecking orders and Linda was always number one in that order.  There was a time when we had a couple of horses, a cow or two and a sheep.  When they came up from the back pasture Linda was always in the lead, two horses, the sheep then whatever cows were there.  That little parade always made me smile.  Linda was always the boss.

We had her until I was in high school.  I think my father was sad to see her go knowing she was his last goat.

630905 Dad and LindaNow we look out on the back forty that we spend all summer mowing, cutting trees and brush  in the fall and winter and talk about having goats to do some of that work for us.  I like to think that my goats would be more dog like in their manner but my memories of goats are probably skewed by the age I was when we had them.





We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away.

There is a special town meeting tonight in Rowe about plans moving forward regarding the school.  I am going.  I need to be surrounded by townspeople to understand how they are feeling about the whole thing.  I will be living there soon enough so any decisions that are made will effect me.

Change is always difficult for everyone, especially when it is sudden.  The loss of the elementary school was a shock and a blow to the people of Rowe.  The remains of the building are still there 7 months after the fire.  Every time I drive by it I just wish it was gone.  There is something to be said for it still being there though.  It means that everyone has had time to go through their stages of grief if they needed to.  The wound isn’t so raw.  I think it has given us all more time to think about what the town needs as opposed to a knee jerk reaction to the loss.

I think that is something we are seeing far too much of these days, that knee jerk reaction to our problems.  There is no foresight. No one thinks about how anything is going to affect us 15 to 20 years down the line.  You see it with gun control, energy policy, climate change.  Events are reacted to rather than analyzed.  Do something to fix it  right now without thought about what that means in the future.  Just look like you’re getting something done.

I’d like to see thoughtful consideration given to what the town needs.  Put the needs before the wants.  Look at it from the perspective of 5, 10, 30 years from now.  Rowe is the kind of place where properties are handed down for generations so forethought is needed.  It’s easy to feel like you have lost all control due to the actions of others when it comes to the future of our kids, I know I do a lot of the time.  I just hope because this town is truly run as a democracy that every issue is taken into consideration and everyone will feel a need to vote on their future.