February 9, 2021

Harvey is feeling better!


Companion: a person or animal with whom one spends a lot of time or with whom one travels.

-Oxford Languages


We took Harvey to the animal hospital where they gave him subcutaneous fluids, force fed him into his craw, and gave him antibiotics.  It isn’t clear what he was suffering from, some Harvid disease of some kind, and at first, it seemed he was near death.  We discussed euthanasia, but decided we would support him for a few days and see how he did.  Lo and behold, he started eating again and perked up!  We brought him home and continued the antibiotics.  So far, he is getting more energetic, is eating more and appears to be on the rebound!  What a relief.  We’re not out of the woods just yet, but things are looking up.

Meanwhile, back on the rail-trail, Waldo and I do our daily six miles.  It’s cold out there, although that doesn’t seem to bother Waldo at all, but I can dress for it.  I’ve found that the neck gaiter I use as a face mask also helps keep my neck, cheeks and chin warm.  When pulled up into position, over my nose, my face is quite toasty.  The downside is that it redirects my exhaled breath so that my glasses get foggy.  My breath also makes the cloth quite wet if I keep it in place for long.  So, when I am alone, I pull it down, but keep it over my chin to keep my lower face warm.  It works quite well.

Waldo plods along, usually up ahead at the far reach of the leash, but sometimes s-turning back and forth, pursuing some odor or other.  There are also times when he will come back to me and almost trip me with a body-block while dangling his omnipresent stick just out of my reach.  I’m not sure what the rules are of the game that he wants to play, but I make up some moves of my own and enter into the fun.  If I grab at the stick, he’ll clamp down hard on it and refuse to let it go.  Digging in his feet and pulling away from me with his not-insignificant strength and weight, we could play tug-of-war over the damn stick for miles.  This game necessarily impedes our progress, so I look for other ways to entertain us both.  I could chase after him, but, hey, it’s hard enough to walk six miles, I don’t have to run it!  Another ploy: grab another stick off the side of the path, they are ubiquitous, and wave it in front of Waldo.  He’ll stare at it, drop the stick he’s carrying and wait for me to throw the one I’ve got.  As soon as I do, he grabs the one he dropped and then runs after the one I threw.  He then brings them both back to me and “tempts” me with them.  I pick up another stick, repeat the process, and see how many sticks he can carry.  This depends on the size, weight and geometry of the sticks, but I’ve seen him carry as many as five before they start falling by the wayside.

Sometimes, I cheat.  As he gets close to me, instead of going after the stick, I grab his tail.  I don’t think this is as much fun for him, though, so it’s a stratagem I don’t use often.  However we play it, there is a give and take, a kind of communication, that passes between us that reinforces our bond.

This bond fascinates me — we are two different species who share a life together.  It is theorized that both dogs and humans are communal animals and the groups they instinctively form help them survive in an evolutionary sense.  We both have biochemical, perhaps hormonal, needs that draw us into association with others.  I’ve often wondered if this is mediated through pheromones.  Whatever mechanism is involved, this “other” does not have to be of the same species.  For humans, the bonds can be made with birds, dogs, cats, horses, gerbils, and even snakes and spiders.  If each one of these bonds is not a conscious exchange between two separate minds, I don’t know how to explain it.  I’m anthropomorphizing here.  I’m not suggesting that animal minds are human minds or that they have the same qualities as a human mind.  But I’m convinced they have a mind just the same.

Waldo is an independent cuss.  I’m told it’s a characteristic of border collies.  He spends most of his time entertaining himself out there at the front end of the leash and ignores me.  But every once in a while, he’ll turn and look at me, or tempt me with a stick, or bite at my feet, or nudge my hand with his nose and I know that even when he’s pursuing an alluring odor, as if I’m not in the universe at all, I am there in the back of his mind.

As he is always in the back of mine.


Lets play!

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