Sunday, February 21, 2010

All Creatures Great and Small

I can't remember a time that animals were not a part of my life. When I was a little girl, we never had less than 3 dogs in the household. My father was a lover of animals -- all kinds of animals. Perhaps he would have liked to have been a veterinarian, but his family, modest, middle class working people, didn't (couldn't) give him much of a choice and sent him off to the merchant marine academy at the early age of 15.

Still, his love for animals was always with him. He told me a heartbreaking story once that stayed with him for all of his life and had much to do with his respect and admiration for all kinds of animals. He was a young officer (a plebe) sailing on a large vessel down to Antartica. In the evenings, the older officers would engage in games/sports on the bridge to pass time. One evening, as my father was keeping watch, he heard a combination of what sounded like shots, laughter and what he described as the most piercing cries. The cries sounded human and he went to see what was going on. He found the officers engaged in a hunting game of sorts -- they were shooting at the dolphins that often travelled alongside the vessel and kept them company. As the dolphins were shot, they would let out a cry that sounded human. Although it was an honor to be included with the older officers in whatever sport or activity they were engaging in, my father refused to be a part of that. His eyes would well up and he would choke when he told the story of the sounds he heard that night -- the sounds that would stay with him forever until he was very old. Later, when he became a captain, he forbade any type of sporting game on his ship that involved any type of killing or hurting of animals, especially dolphins. To his death, he donated to all types of "save the dolphins" foundations and was a loyal lifetime donor to the Defenders of Wildlife group and the American Humane Society.

He imparted his love for all creatures to us. There is not an animal I won't help or a bird I won't feed. We currently have 3 dogs. Two of them are wire haired dachshunds from Germany. Yes, Germany. I was engaged to a german guy years ago and for my birthday, he gave me two german, wire haired dachshund puppies (two sisters). We flew out to Germany to get them. The german did not last (in fact, I met my now husband on the day I was supposed to marry the german -- I'll tell you that story one day) but my dogs did. Their Deutschland kennel club names are Xara and Xandra Von Frunkenberg, but I renamed them Thelma and Louise. They have been my companions for now 9 years. They are twins and inseparable. They follow me everywhere I go and, as I always tell them, they were my very first babies. I can't imagine life without them ever.

As for my third dog, well, he was not in the plans. After Katrina, as you know, we ended up living far away. We had to cross a long, long bridge across Lake Pontchartrain. One evening, as I was returning home from work with kids on tow, we encountered the usual traffic getting off the bridge. But this time, among the traffic coming and going, I saw a beautiful black lab going up to driver's windows to be petted. Everyone was petting him as they stopped at the red light, but once cars started going again, you can only imagine how dangerous it was for him. Feeling a sense of duty, I went to pull over to get the dog out of the highway, and I saw him cross over to the other side of the highway, dodging cars, to the parking lot of a bank. He had seen some kids walking up with their mother to go into the bank and he obviously wanted to play. The kids, however, started screaming and so did their mother. The lab was wagging its tail and trying to jump up to lick their faces. But they were frantic and screaming! So I saw the security guard come up to him and pull his gun on the dog. This all happened so fast. I pulled my car over and jumped out of the car and jumped between the dog and the gun. (yeah, like, what was I thinking???????). The guard warned me that the "dog could be rabid" and told me to step aside. Like, make me.

So I told him that I would take him in my car and I asked him for his help in putting him in which he refused to do. So I shoved this heavy, huge dog into my front seat (my kids were in car seats in the back). I called my husband and told him I picked up a stray dog. He asked how big of a dog he was to which I responded, "maybe 75 lbs but his paws are still big!" He was still a puppy, much to my surprise! Although we put ads everywhere and checked him for a chip, no one responded. He was just one of those Katrina dogs that someone had left behind.

So now Satchmo (as we named him) has been part of our family. Our Katrina rescue dog. He is a pure, gorgeous black lab that at age 4 is all muscle and weighs 90 lbs. He sheds like crazy and I spend my life vacuuming my white floors. Still, I can't imagine him not being part of my family. My dad was very fond of him and although he never could see him (he went blind during the last 5 years of his life), he was able to pet him. Although he never said it, I know he was proud of how much we loved and cared for animals. Now that he is gone, I see him and his presence in everything that lives -- from the little sparrow that sings in the morning by my window, to the funny looking big eyed lizards that reside in our garden during the summer.

And, in case you are wondering, I have carried on his devotion to dolphins and donate, in his memory, to all causes that protect this noble animal.


Satchmo

My sweet Louise


Even my furnishings echo my love for animals. Here is my "rumply linen dog bed."

11 comments:

  1. I loved this post. The story about the dolphins made me cry - why oh why are people so cruel? I will never understand it. Your father sounds like he was a wonderful man.

    Thank goodness you were there at the right time to rescue Satchmo. That was meant to be. We have two rescues and we love them with all our hearts. I've also rescued many dogs in the past and found homes for them.

    Claudia

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  2. Thanks, Claudia. I once read, "a dog is the only creature on earth that will love you more than he loves himself." So true.

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  3. This is a very touching story, I had to hold back tears. I've never understood how anyone could harm an animal, and to enjoy it!
    Your father was a hero for saving animals as are you.
    We're a family that loves animals too. We donate to many animal organizations including those for dolphins, whales and manatees. We love the ocean and all of it's inhabitants. Two of my children have decided to become veterenarians when they grow up =) I couldn't be more proud.
    Wishing you a wonderful week!
    xoxo, B

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  4. What sweet dogs and an even sweeter story of how you rescued Satchmo.

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  5. How utterly sad about the dolphins - I cannot abide any kind of cruelty to any animals and Dolphins are the most beautiful and intelligent creatures....
    How wonderful you saved Satchmo... and as for Thelma and Louise - ADORABLE... wire haired daschunds are my absolute favourite dog in the world - espcially the 'mini' ones which I think yours are? Thelma looks so sweet!
    Sarah (Semi Expat) X

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  6. Belle Vie, thank you so much for joining my blog. I love yours too. Those couture gowns make me go crazy!!!

    Bonjour Madame -- your cats are cutie pies too. And you should tell the story of the cats and homespun linen.

    Semi Expat -- I thought I was the only one who adored wire haired doxies. When I first saw them in Europe, I thought they were mutts. I grew up with a short haired dachshund named Frankfurt, and I've always loved them.

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  7. I can't bear to think of anyone cruel enough to shoot at a dolphin when they are doing nothing but escorting your ship through the waters.
    What an amazing thing to witness... how could one be so ignorant!!

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  8. this dogbed is beyond words... so happy to receive your email... will love following your blog xx

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  9. I LOVED YOUR POST TODAY!!! I was horrified about them shooting the dolphins. They should have been tossed overboard!!!!!!!!!! Idiots!!!!!!!!! And that sweet lab! Adorable. I just lost my precious puppy girl (she was 13) last week so I am feeling very sad & lonely so Satchmo's face made me smile.

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  10. I just found your blog and already you have me crying! Not just for those poor dolphins (horrifying!) Your poor DF! But for that wonderful lucky pup of yours. How could someone want to shoot at that sweet face?? I would have done exactly what you did.....actually I have...minus the gun, a couple of times. We have that, and a love of things french in common so I can't wait to read more of your lovely blog. Vanna

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  11. It warms my heart to hear others stories of animal rescue. I too am an animal lover and a big fan and supporter of pet rescue groups. Thank you for rescuing Satchmo.

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