Wild Animals

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
… and beloved companions

Farewell, Moe

Angel of God my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side to light, to guard, to rule and guide.

    I never expected the guardian angel of grade school prayer to be corporeal. Certainly not a dog.

    The stiff fur of a yellow Labrador retriever covered 125 pounds of vibrant muscle. His chest, where the fur whirled in vortex, was broad and deep. Foot pods were thick and black, indifferent to ice and stone. Lower legs were strong with bone, springy with tendon. Lips black as pods fluttered in elastic opposition to podal density. Quivering whiskers rose from black pores. Ears were soft as silk purses, eyes big, brown and soulful — an angelic giveaway.

    Moe was pure creature, the far end of the spectrum from pure spirit. Yet he did guardian angel to a T …

—photo by Sue Kullen

Bay Weekly’s Max

All we could see when Max was a pup were big feet and butt-up crouches that exploded in legendary romps.“I don’t know why kings and queens bothered with jesters, for nothing’s funnier than puppies and kittens,” said our son Nathaniel, then 16, who missed the start of his school term to start off the butter-fat yellow Lab puppy who joined our family on January 1, 1988.

In the fleeting, rollicking moments of puppyhood,

We couldn’t foresee the big-hearted old bag of bones who would, 5,000 wakings later, drag himself up rocks and hills to stay close to the people who were the king and queen of his universe.

All we could see for many more years was a hero of a dog. Strong and tireless in his long prime …

Dear Old Slip Mahoney

'That’s Not My Dog!'

Through the beveled glass oval of the front door, I could see trouble. My friend and hair-stylist Kathy Burns’ brother was not making a social call. His khaki uniform meant he had come on official business. Dogcatcher business.

    The dog in question, Slip Mahoney, wasn’t home. Wherever he was, he had stirred up enough commotion to bring out the dogcatcher.

    “He escaped,” I said, holding up my hands in helplessness.

    My preemptive confession got me nowhere. A look told me my inability to control my dog was no excuse.

             “If you can’t keep him at home, we’ll have to take him into custody,” the officer of the law said, handing me the ticket I’d have to pay for a dog on the loose.

    Shame on my own doorstep and the $25 fine were bad. But not nearly so bad as springing Slip from jail. Once he’d been caught and caged, the fine rose to $75. We’d have to pick him up on the other side of town. The dog would come home drooling and listless, hung over from the drugs in the dart the dogcatcher fired to bring him to bay.

    Smart as his German shepherd father, wily and willful as his beagle mother, Slip had taught himself to elude capture …

 

Our Mr. Boy

A cat who grew with a newspaper

 

         Bay Weekly gave White Boy his happy home.

         Not that we were happy to see him. He came at a bad time, and his arrival was bad news. The neighbor who delivered him has not lived down his bad name, though 16.5 years have passed since he turned up at our door with a Pennzoil box full of kitties.

         “Are these your cats?” asked Jack Brumbaugh, the kind-hearted artist across the street who noticed the squirming box atop the right front fender of Bay Weekly’s white Chevy Suburban.

         The Suburban was new — to us — bought to carry New Bay Times to distribution spots from Severna Park to Solomons. We were proud of that big old truck, and had a sign painter emblazon it with our fledgling paper’s name. That sign must have read good homes for abandoned kitties to the scoundrel who left the Pennzoil box on the New Bay Times Suburban outside our house.

“Of course those aren’t our cats,” I shrieked.

         By then a white head had pushed through the folded top of the Pennzoil box and a kitten had struggled out. As he leapt free, he landed on the breakfast table. We’d been eating pancakes, and he’d landed in a plate streaked with syrup. Glaring at us, the tiny white creature licked his feet clean. Then he licked the plate.

         Thus Boy became the lucky 13th member of the Bay Weekly founding household.

         If I’m to tell the truth — and this story is as true as I can make it — Boy grew only in size, into a light heavyweight in fighting trim. As for character, he popped out of that Pennzoil box fully formed.

The Christmas Kitty

Christmas is a hard time to find a kitty …
but Bill was dogged

Bill should have known that this quest wouldn’t be easy.

Except at dinner time, there is never a cat when you need one. When it is time to go to the vet or come in for the night, where is the cat? Your ‘here kitty, kitty, kitties’ fall on deaf ears. Even a white cat disappears into the background — whether that be the green of spring or the butterscotch of leafy autumn — when you want him. This was a lesson Bill could have learned from experience.

But he was an investigative reporter, doggedly persistent in digging up the buried bones of chicanery. Finding a kitten ought to be a walk in the park.So when his wife said, “While you’re back home for Christmas, why don’t you get my mother a kitten?”he’d said, “I can do that.”