Dogged and Determined
It’s 6am on a typical morning. The famous mouse on my alarm clock once again gets the day off. He is
scheduled to go off at seven however, the backyard huskies launch into their own alarm much earlier.
Their incessant siren does not shut off as easily nor as quickly.
As I sleepily shuffle down the narrow upstairs hallway, sidestepping the house huskies still sacked out
on the floor, I note the agitated rustle of cats in the room at the end of the hall. There comes a
plaintive “meow” from another location… beyond the upstairs bathroom window. WHAT?!
All systems go on alert at the kitten’s cry! Of course, any excitement brings snoozing huskies to life.
Outside the second story bathroom window lies the side yard. In the yard recline huskies. Any cat
found lying in the backyard by huskies would be soon lying quite devoid of their alleged nine lives.
Falling from the high roof would probably cost one life. With huskies present, the remaining cat lives
would quickly follow suit. That leaves little left but fuzz after they are done.
Awkwardly, stumbling around and about the now active huskies, I work my way to the cat sanctuary.
Entering the room while pushing aside and keeping out the pressing huskies, I quickly count heads.
Two are missing. No, the cats are not decapitated. The whole cat…actually two whole cream-colored
cats…are absent. Robbi in consideration of warm weather had placed a small, narrow screen across
the bottom of one window, allowing it to remain a bit open and the room to cool at night. The cats in
their cleverness opened the window fully and escaped to the balcony. A quick look out the window
belies the location of one cream-colored cat named Shoe. The other missing feline, is a fearless and
infamous little fluffy creampuff kitten named CWNN (Quinn), Cat With No Name. Let me clarify.
Fearless in this case does not mean brave. It means oblivious. Four-month-old CWNN has no concept
that anything is anything but a new toy to play with or a new friend to meet.
Having heard the distinctive “meow” from the bathroom/dog yard side of the house, I dashed down the
stairs and charged out the front screen door with a bang. Racing into the front yard, I turned back
toward the house, peering up to see if I could locate the kitten along the lower roofline or the trees next
to it. No luck. Hurdling the three-foot front gate, I halted at the sidewalk, turned…and stopped cold.
There, at the very top of the very, steep peak of our Victorian home, huddled a tiny speck of white fluff.
Peering wide-eyed at the huge drop before him, his little paws and head peeped over the broad edge
of the roof.
In traditional stories, this is the kind of situation that brings to mind small towns, volunteer fire brigades,
and kindly rescues with the hook and ladder. But such idyllic notions are none too practical for modern
urban environments. Besides, being a male, I suffer insufferably from that “I can do this myself” genetic
flaw. It conjures the kind of thinking that eventually brings to mind emergency rooms and body-cast
Ignoring all rational thought, I immediately spring into action! Racing back upstairs, I wade through
three huskies anxiously seeking entry to the cat room and squeeze through the knob-less door, using
pliers to open the latch. I feel a slight chill watching the huskies severely study my motions with the
pliers as if they could figure out how they are being used. Sweeping cats aside on the other side of the
door, the portal is closed securely behind me to the disdain of all the animals. Crossing the room, I
open the window, remove the screen and hunker out through the front window, which is no “slim” feat
for me. This involved contorting and squeezing, serpentine-like through the small framework, and onto
a tiny, decorative balcony.
Somehow figuring that a six-month-old kitten completely understands the Queen’s English, I
straightaway try to “talk” the kitten down. The kitten is in a quandary, probably due to my eloquent
soliloquy. Part of it wants to come, be held and petted. Part wants to curiously explore this brave new
world it has discovered. Adventure wins out and the tiny kitten begins to scurry toward the husky-
infested backyard along the roof apex. It’s a logical choice, being unsure of scooting down the steep
roof the precarious trek along the top is less frightening than the alternative. The kitten, of course, has
no concept of the danger it is in, so I worry for the both of us. Freezing, I helplessly watch unsteady
paws carry the perky ball of fluff on a teeter-totter course toward the backyard. Suddenly, that sudden
burst of anger flares. “Fine! Run Away! See if I care! Go ahead and get eaten…You get what you
deserve if you fall!” Quickly however, I regain my senses, realizing how ridiculous I look, standing on
the porch top, shouting and shaking my fist at a now out of sight little kitten.
The void left by retreating anger is more than amply filled by near panic for CWNN. Just out of sight, in
the yard below the steeply sloping roof, one could almost hear the licking of chops along with the
piercing blue eyes of a particular connoisseur of cats, I knew that Taz and the entire Siberian stampede
anxiously awaited the tightrope walker’s singular slip.
Quickly recovering the initial “I’ll Save You!” bravado of moments earlier, I painfully crawl back through
the window, then roar down the stairs to get a large extension ladder. The intent is to haul this heavy,
bulky monstrosity up the narrow stairs, somehow get it out the small window, then set it up on the little
balcony and climb to the roof peak and rescue the cat. The same cat, mind you, that currently has no
interest in me and tarries off to explore other regions of the roof. Oh yes, one other personal element
that I might have misplaced in my haste to be a hero…I’m deathly afraid of heights. Thank goodness
my macho male superhero persona leaves such things hidden away in the recesses of my mind and far
away from my ego…at least until I’m dangling from the top of a ladder with a frightened cat.
As I barrel by Robbi on my way to fetch the ladder, I breathlessly alert her to CWNN’s dire peril on the
roof, teetering on the edge of doom. One false move and he’s as good as a Milk Bone. Racing out to
the garage, the indoor huskies are shooed before me into the yard with the rest of the horde.
Shouldering the ladder, I wade again through a turbulent sea of huskies, back into the house and slam
the sliding door. Precious minutes tick away as I lumber with the ladder and clumsily work it through the
house. Counting every second, ricocheting like a pinball, I hurry; gouging and banging the plastered
walls along the narrow stairs, negotiating the two landings and three turns in it. Wheezing and hustling
the huge, aluminum extension ladder up the last stretch of stairs I narrowly miss tripping over a small
white cat cheerfully prancing down the other direction….
Robbi greets me as I finally achieve the monumental goal of the top of the stairs.
“CWNN…?!”, I gasp, out of breath and energy. “How… did you…(gasp)… get him down and…(gasp)
…come back inside?”
“I simply leaned out the window, meowed at him, held out a can of cat food and opened it. He
reappeared in record time and hustled right in.”
I smile weakly, say nothing, and begin the long trek back to replace the ladder. I just hate it when she’s
so good. I’m sure a batch of huskies, still milling about anxiously and looking skyward expectantly, are
thinking the same thing.
Robbi uses her head…someday I shall have to try that, too.
Scatterbrained Scott, Remarkable Robbi, a disappointed Taz and huskies and the cat with no name
(I know what I’d like to call him…)
“The wise man does at once what the fool does finally.”
For A Rainy Day
It often reminds me of those vintage, sepia-toned, football gridiron films from a bygone era:
November, 1931. The Green Bay Packers battling the Chicago Bears. The gathering darkness of
Soldier Field, Chicago. A stinging, freezing rain drives relentlessly off Lake Michigan.
Indistinguishable from each other and even the playing field, twenty-two men stand bone tired, yet
defiant, matted in cold, wet muck mingled slightly with smatterings of warm blood. Two classic rivals
combating the elements, each other and their own personal limitations. Seen through the mists of
time, somehow, they evoke a true spirit of sport, determination and a particular, classic heroism always
associated with gladiators. A courage that becomes the stuff of legend….
As part of the nature of this husky, Taz has a rugged outdoorsmanship about him. While most,
sensible dogs would say, stay out of the rain, Taz revels in it. Roaring about, he gets completely
soaked, and eventually covered in thick mud up to his chest. Looking out the back window, seeing him
standing boldly and muddy in the darkening shadows of the evening’s slate-gray skies, Taz evokes the
rich, nostalgic visions reflecting those determined football players of old. Garbed in such festive,
muddy attire, Taz is left outside in his rain soaked fun zone.
Tonight is the first major storm of the season. A cold, steady rain continues, pushed by 35 mile per
hour offshore winds to the south. Thoughts of a warm, crackling fireplace, cozy slippers and a mug of
steaming hot chocolate--Darn, where are those marshmallows? The back porch, sliding door is open
with Megan and Ninja happily huddled in the laundry room next to the heated, pleasant rumble of the
clothes dryer. Missy ignores her dinner in deference to urgent attempts to relieve us of our own.
Travis sleeps quietly under the dining room table. And Taz? Where else but splashing about outside;
a four-legged mound of mud surmounted with ice blue eyes. Most of the yard elements that could fall
victim to a husky “attack of boredom” had been removed. All the tools, projects, trash barrels and
even the dogs’ wading pool had been set aside. Only dog dishes and a chew bone remain present to
By midnight the horde had settled, and I went to sleep, gently serenaded by the hum and rhythm of
the rain. About 1:30 in the morning a huge collision erupts. “BAM!” Blasted straight up from my bed, I
sit very still, listening for additional sounds, all my senses awake and aware. A car accident?
Electrical lines down? A tree toppled? Silence for a few moments. Then started a horrendous,
reverberating, scraping rumble that went on, and on, and on. It sounded like a transient in the alley,
dragging a shopping cart filled with all kinds of junk. A shopping cart that had no wheels on it. It
continued on, screeching, scratching, scuffling with immense loudness. Obviously, from the volume
and abundant obnoxiousness of it all, the noise had to be of major import; something needing to be
I sailed down the stairs and to the back of the house, threw open the back door and stepped out
into the yard. There, in the middle of the wet, muddy yard was a wet, muddy Taz standing in the
middle of his bright, blue, wading pool. Smiling ear to ear, it was easy to see he was profoundly proud
of his accomplishment.
This is a heavy, “husky proof”, reinforced, heavy, molded plastic, children’s’ wading pool, about 5
feet in diameter and over a foot deep. It weighs a great deal. It had been stored vertically alongside
the house, tilted downward so that it would not fill with water. Several plywood boards had been
stacked against it in the interim. Taz had rolled it out, turned it right side up, and meticulously dragged
it across rough flagstones to the complete center of the yard. The molded shaping and hollow
underside of the pool magnified and echoed every tiny, effort-filled inch as Taz worked it along to his
prime location. He had then strode into the center of it and struck a proud stance in the driving rain.
We both stood there in silence, in the downpour, studying each other. Peering into the eyes, that
window to the soul, we made contact. He smiled. I smiled, nodding my head in acknowledgment of his
accomplishment. My hand drew to my forehead offering a small salute; a display of praise and pride to
his determination, cleverness and intelligence. Turning, I began to step back into the dry confines of
the house. Glancing back once more before I stepped inside and closed the door, there stood Taz,
covered in mud, soaked to the skin, the classic image of the triumphant gladiator. And his pool filling
Standing quietly there by the window, watching him go through his paces, there is a personal drift
back to a time seemingly ages ago. To virtually all of us, being cold, wet and miserable means just
that---being cold, wet and miserable. Yet, in the recesses of a long, distant memory, there recalls a
simpler time when cold, wet and miserable equated with delirious fun. The simple-hearted joys of
splashing about in puddles and getting soaked in the rain. How sad such a precious gift as
unpretentious delight in simple pleasures has been buried under the unyielding burden of practicality.
Responsibility and maturity shackle adulthood. We seem always having to consider the future, the
consequences, and the runny noses that may follow.
So, as in my dreamy, little vision observed through the haze of time and the fog framing a back porch
window, I believe we vicariously savor long forgotten pleasures through our dogs. Consolation for lost
innocence greets us daily in the form of our canine friends’ unaffected enthusiasm. Unlike ourselves
and even our children, our dogs never lose those simple joys. Dogs tend to live in the present. We
look upon them to view a halcyon past as we fearfully face uncertain futures.
Don’t get me wrong. For all the romanticizing, I’m very much aware he’s still an exuberant, wet, muddy
dog. There is a certain dynamic to him…and to all dogs like him…
I swear, this dog is a reincarnated Green Bay Packer from the Golden Age. There is a courage that
shows in his face, determination in his eyes, and a timeless playfulness for the simple joys of the
Perhaps old dogs can be taught new tricks. At least this old dog thinks so…
Scott (the old dog), Robbi, and the victorious Taz
"If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit.
For what happens to the beasts soon happens to man.
All things are connected."
--- Chief Seattle