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Dogs – Now and Then

From Baghdad with Love is the story of an extraordinary dog and how he changed the life of Marine Lt. Col. Jay Kopelman. Publicity photo.

An essay by Hugo E. DeSarro

The behavior of dogs has improved over the years.  They are less aggressive toward other dogs and less hostile toward strangers.  They are more obedient.  It isn’t because the dogs of today have more intelligence than the dogs of yesterday.  It’s because dogs (and other pets) are better treated today.

There was a time, not many years ago, when dogs were tied in the yard and stayed there for most of the day.  Sometimes they were brought in at night and during inclement weather.

Some dogs were kept outside day and night.  They slept in doghouses.  They had little contact with the family and little or no contact with other people and other dogs.  They lived their lives in the yard.  Their only contact with the family was at feeding time when food was brought out to them.  It was animal cruelty.

The treatment of dogs and other pets improved with the boomer generation.  Baby boomers treat their pets more humanely than earlier generations.  They keep them indoors and give them the run of the house.  They take them for walks and demonstrate more affection for them.  Many take their dogs with them wherever they go.

When I was young and lived in Hartford, dog fights were frequent.  Dogs were frustrated and defensive.  They chased cats and often shook them to death when they caught them.  The dogs were treated brutally and developed brutal dispositions, as a result.  There were exceptions, of course; families that treated their dogs and other pets decently.

Today, most dogs are friendly.  They seldom fight.  They are friendly with other dogs and no longer instinctively chase cats.

They are intelligent and easily trained and they perform valuable duties.  They lead the blind and are companions to the elderly and the handicapped.

They work with policemen and firemen and save lives.  They sniff out drugs and serve in the military in war time.  Above all, they are affectionate and trustworthy companions

Talk to your dog.  They listen to you.  Like children, they want to learn and to please you.  They are eager and interested in what is going on.  They make wonderful lifetime friends and companions.

Posted April 9, 2011

Editor’s note: If you enjoyed Mr. DeSarro’s essay, you may enjoy these three related links.

Soul of a Dog by Jon Katz http://www.bedlamfarm.com/bedlam_books.asp

From Baghdad with Love, by Lt. Col. Jay Kopelman http://www.bookreporter.com/reviews2/1592289800.asp

NorthStar Foundation – dogs for children with autism, based in Storrs CT http://www.northstardogs.com

Have a news item or event (or an essay?) you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions.

Dinner for Two, an essay

Red-bellied woodpecker feeds her young.

A mother woodpecker was feeding her youngster at the bird feeder. I was watching from a window. The mother was on one side of the open feeder and her offspring was on the other. The youngster was as big as its mother. They faced each other, beak to beak.

They were red-bellied woodpeckers with zebra stripes down their backs. The mother had a small red patch on the nape of her neck and her youngster had a large brownish patch that covered the top of his head and the nape of his neck. Red-bellied woodpeckers have a long sharp beak, nearly an inch long, and mama pushed the bird feed deep into the youngster’s throat.

The big guy stood there sleepy-eyed and impassive, his mouth wide open. She kept poking the food into him. She seemed a trifle impatient and annoyed and her actions were jerky and emphatic. Perhaps she felt it was time the big oaf went out on his own and took care of himself.

A brown sparrow landed on the feeder next to the youngster. Then another sparrow landed on the other side of the feeder, next to the mother. The woodpeckers ignored them. Woodpeckers are no-nonsense birds. They don’t squabble with other birds. And they don’t quibble over food. They tend to their own affairs. And they are not timid and flighty.

When woodpeckers see me at the window, they don’t panic and fly away like other birds. The feeder hangs on a wire about thirty feet from the house, but the moment I appear at the window, most birds fly off. Blue jays and cardinals take off even when I’m at a window at the far end of the house.

The mother bird hesitated for a moment to catch her breath and to glance around. There was a tiny junco perched precariously on the wire that holds the feeder, waiting for a turn at the feeder. Little birds stay out of the way of big birds, especially when it comes to food. A small bird at the feeder will leave if a larger bird arrives.

Mama bird gave her son two or three more mouthfuls, then cleaned her beak on the side of the feeder and flew to a nearby tree. Junior remained on the feeder a moment longer, his mouth still open. Then he looked uncomfortably around, gave a little nervous chirp and flew to his mother, a little wobbly and with a wild flapping of wings.

The little junco, perched on the wire, flew immediately to the feeder, but the sparrows made threatening gestures and it flew back to the wire to wait some more. Mama woodpecker gave her fledgling a moment to catch his breath, then she flew off again, over the trees and out of sight, her youngster following desperately behind her.

Youth is a difficult time for all the species. I stand often at the window, and the more I watch birds and other wild creatures in the yard, the more convinced I am that instinct alone doesn’t explain their behavior.

Posted Feb. 8, 2011

Buckeyes

Buckeyes - also known as horse chestnuts.

Buckeyes - also known as horse chestnuts.

I gathered buckeyes

‘neath a buckeye tree.

Bringing home a pocketful,

I wondered why;

I had no need for them.

Smooth and glossy in the grass

like chocolate drops,

they caught my eye.

They had a precious look

and I was loath to pass them by.

I put them on the table

in a row,

perfect in their imperfections,

sleek as old mahogany.

I stared and stared

until I saw within each orb

a buckeye tree and knew

the secret of the earth,

and how life comes to be.

Posted Nov. 30, 2010

The Fitful Sea

Harkness Memorial State Park in August, photo copyright 2010 by Brenda Sullivan

Harkness Memorial State Park in August, photo copyright 2010 by Brenda Sullivan

Take me to the fitful sea,

the roiling, moiling, boiling sea,

rocking, toiling endlessly;

foaming at the high-run line,

lacework made of frosted brine.

Murky, mucid, viscid mist,

mucid like a viscid kiss,

shroud shore, sea and verdant lea;

churning, chafing, changing sea.

Take me there, let me be.

Take me to the eerie sea,

the hauling, heaving, heavy sea;

foghorn groaning mournfully,

mooing, moaning dolefully

in sullen, aching agony.

Grungy gulls on stuccoed pilings,

wheeling, keeling, hanging, gliding

over dreary, weary sea;

the toiling, boiling, ageless sea.

Take me there, let me be.

Posted Oct. 25, 2010

Conversation on Horseback

Image courtesy of http://momsinablog.com/6567/voices/

Image courtesy of http://momsinablog.com/6567/voices/

“Who is it this time? Another common cutthroat?

“I know not. I come as thee, this hour.”

“There is an evil and a shifty look about him.”

“That is not as I see him.”

“Nay? How do you see him?”

“Meek and harmless.”

“Meek and harmless? And innocent, as well? Is he

acquaintance of thine?”

“No more of mine than of thine. I, too, see him for the

first time. There is rumor he has performed miracles.”

“A magician and his tricks, I wager.”

“Nay, miracles, not tricks.”

“Ha, miracles! Walking on water, and the like?”

“Rumor has it he brought the dead to life and calls

Himself the Blessed One.”

“Blasphemous fool! The Blessed One indeed! Look

at him in rags and thorny crown! Impaling is too good

for him! No wonder he is mocked and spit upon! What

say ye, friend?”

“I make no judgment. It is whispered that he is accused

of many things but nothing deserving of death. But, look

–look where the soldier pierces his side with a lance!

And look at his hands and feet! Beholds, he bleeds a

purple blood, the royal blood of a king! And now the sun

darkens! Woe unto them, what have they done?”

“Purple blood? What p-purple blood? I-I see no purple

blood! ‘Tis red to me! And the sun? W-What nonsense

you speak! ‘Tis only a cloud! But I must be on my way.

I-I delay too long. Take heed what you say about purple

blood and kings or you will be taken for one of him and

s-spiked to a post. I leave! I-I go now. . .”

Posted Feb. 18, 2010

Quilters

A quilt displayed at the 2009 East Haddam Quilt Show. Photo by Brenda Sullivan.

A quilt displayed at the 2009 East Haddam Quilt Show. Photo by Brenda Sullivan.

Gentle ladies in the back room

Working quietly on their quilts

Of many colors and designs;

Measuring, cutting, basting,

Sewing, putting cloth and hope

And dreams together;

Pinning, hemming and tying

Their pliant works of art.

Quiet, gentle ladies turn

From sordid news of crime

And war to concentrate

On the magic of converting,

By an ancient skill,

Cloth and thread and batting

Into patchwork-patterned

Work of lasting beauty.

Posted Jan. 28, 2010

Fear not for tomorrow

grass-diffuseglow2Some see God in the tallest tree,

Some in the mountain mass.

I see God in a grain of sand

And in a blade of grass.

Some marvel at the lightning flash

And hear with awe the thunder.

I find the simple songs of birds

To be as great a wonder.

Some wait to be delivered from

This vale of sin and sorrow.

I seek God’s Light on earth today;

And fear not for tomorrow.

Autumn branch

yellow-leaf-cropFrom the upstairs window,

the branch hangs in full view.

A slender, slanting branch

with fragile, yellow leaves,

centered in the window frame,

it floats lighter than air

and catches my attention

each time I glance that way.

It is only a branch

like other branches

colored by the chill of autumn;

but sometimes when the air is still

and bright with sunlight,

I see it with a start.

It is so delicately made,

so balanced and precise in every part,

I feel strange trepidation

and wonder, is it there by chance ?

- Hugo E. DeSarro

Published Sept. 21, 2009

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