Archive for July, 2013

My Favorite Day

Penny’s refusal of bacon confirmed my worries, and I wrestled open her beautifully-dentitured jaw to peer within. No sign of cracked teeth or visible bleeding. No bit of pork bone trapped between molars. I twisted down from my crouch onto knees and an elbow, torquing my neck owlishly to bring my eyes level with her squirming face.

There. Some shadow just above her gleaming back left molar. Snaked firmly behind her upper canines, my finger and thumb lifted her snout into a dusty ray of late afternoon sun.  A huffy breath dampened my eyebrows and settled her agitated tongue just low enough for the thumb-sized, splintered spar of wood to come into view, jutting bloodlessly, unnervingly, from her rippled pink palate. With a sharp intake of breath, I gently freed her muzzle.

“Good God. Miss Penny, how on earth did you impale yourself there? You’re definitely not supposed to poke sticks through that bone.”

She crow-hopped happily around me now that the examination was done with, tail beating against my ribs as I stared at the wall for a moment in wonder. My gaze flicked up to the clock, where the hour hand was just rounding the corner to the little red Cardinal perched at six o’clock. The regular vet closed at five thirty.


Since the bright August day she arrived, Penny has blessed our little family with her undiscriminating sociability and unbridled cheerfulness. Fully realizing her role as Wilbur’s companion and playmate, she quickly became devoted to him with the same idolizing loyalty that he shows me. Loyalty insurmountable by all but the most enticing of diversions – fuzzy yellow balls in Penny’s case, and the irresistible possibility of prey in Wilbur’s. As much as I appreciate her sweetness and silliness and heroic efforts to pester Wilbur into pliable exhaustion, Penny’s greatest contribution has been calming Wilbur’s phobias of cars and confinement and separation.


Unfortunately, she’s accomplished his wonderful transformation through her own total and complete lack of fear. In the brief year following her fortuitous delivery to the farm, Penny has undergone three emergency surgeries and one near-fatal weekend in intensive care. She’s fallen out of at least four trees, off a ladder, and tumbled from the brink of several unexpectedly steep river banks – on one occasion to be swept by the current beneath a fallen log. She’s been bitten and stung and swatted and quite vigorously butted by a goat. Her fur is hiding countless scrapes and bruises, her back is regularly striped by long rows of scab from speeding under barbed wire fences, and the tender black skin of her nose and eyelids is marked with the pink and grey signatures of too many close calls.

Today, her second birthday, she’s three-legged lame from colliding with a tree trunk while leaping for a ball and is sporting a fist-sized wasp sting from a game of bite-that-bug. Tomorrow, she will leap with just as much abandon and will sample flying insects with just as much curiosity, and she will never know that Wilbur’s human has been wasting moments of this precious life on something so tiresome as worrying for her survival. It is a daily joy watching Penny embrace her life with uninhibited enthusiasm, but I can only hope Wilbur and I manage to keep her in one piece until her common sense grows in, and if it doesn’t, just until she’s too aged to jump into trees.

“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.

Penny and a very special One-Ear Up dog's reflection