Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Meeting Mojave

Our good deed for the day yesterday involved an old, skinny hound named "Mojave" who showed up at our house (probably visiting the small pond in the front yard, which is the only close-by source of water), looking like he was starving to death. He was a sweet, gentle dog and had a collar and tags, so we tried to contact the owner, whose name and phone number were listed.

When I called a young woman's voice responded on the answering machine - the right person, thank heavens - so I left a message. We pulled out one of our own dog's metal crates and kept him in the house for the day, feeding and giving him short walks every little while. (I feared putting a strange dog with my three might start a fight, and the animal wasn't in any shape for a scrap.) The owner's name was quite unusual and in addition to calling the number on the tag, I even was able to find her on Facebook and send her a message that way.

For most of the day, though, we heard nothing. By late afternoon we were beginning to wonder what we'd gotten ourselves into (we need a fourth dog like a hole in the head and I was loathe to take an adult animal to the pound for execution), but eventually the relieved owner called and agreed to come get Mojave when she got off work at a restaurant that evening.

I figured this doe-eyed bag of skin-and-bones had been fending for himself on the street for weeks, but no. It turned out Mojave was well cared for, but 13 years old and cancerous, explaining the appearance that he was starving. The dog was not yet decrepit, though, by any means. The owner had recently moved from an apartment into a house with a yard maybe 15 blocks from us, and  she said this was the fourth time in several weeks the dog had inexplicably gotten out, this time, she said, in a blink of a eye while her back was turned. She thinks he's actually jumping the chain link fence, which is pretty good for a cancer patient!

I probably overfed him, wrongly thinking he was starving, giving him about four cups of food split up in small portions over the course of the day. He also drank water like it was going out of  style, perhaps a function of the cancer.

When his owner finally arrived at about 10 pm after her work shift, Mojave couldn't have been more excited to see her - not just his tail but his whole, skinny body was wagging. She was on a bike, and put a muzzle/leash apparatus on the dog to which he was clearly accustomed before taking him away. I imagine the jog home was a welcome, joyful relief for Mojave. He'd not only missed his owner, but he'd been cooped up in a cage most of the day when he's clearly a runner and a jumper.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fruit trees loving the extra rain

All the rain we've received this year has led to an unexpected fruit boon in my household: A peach tree in our front yard and a fig tree in the back have been filled the last couple of weeks with ripe, delicious fruit.

The figs are perhaps the best I've ever eaten, fat, ripe, and full of juice. The peaches are less spectacular and some have been victimized by bugs or squirrels (who take a ripe peach, eat one bite, then throw it on the ground - bastards).

The peach tree in particular is going on ten years old and we've never before had a peach crop that generated edible fruit, partly because of the ongoing squirrel problem, but mostly because the tree never produced much. But this year's rain has the thing loaded with peaches to the point that I'm afraid one limb is about to break from the weight. We've been cutting them up to remove the bug-spoiled parts and using the peaches for fruit salads, smoothies, etc.

Strangely, squirrels have been apparently carrying peaches across our rooftop and into our backyard, where we've found a number of them which immediately become dog toys. One dog (Domino) likes to chew them until getting to the pit, which he then cracks down on like a bone. Another one (Indeaux) will throw them up in the air like a ball and presses me to use them to play "catch" (his favorite trick is for me to throw one up high and he can catch it out of the air).

There's also a pear tree in the front yard that's a little younger, but we're still not getting edible fruit from it. My wife thinks if we get one more round of rain the tree might fully fruit out.

We're really loving all the extra rain since the drought has finally broken, but the fruit trees have got to be the nicest surprise from all the extra water.