Monday, July 23, 2012

Dover the Bat Tracker

We were watching a fairly inscrutable mystery on the tellie last night when Dover went on maximum alert. A graceful blackness fluttered and dipped from one end of the room to another. A bat in the house! Yikes! Ever the optimists, we opened the back door and continued to try to figure out what was going on in the mystery. The problem was that all the guys in the show looked alike - all slightly smarmy and cetainly hinting that each could eventually be tagged as the malfeasant. 

At one point we figured that the bat had made its way out into the darkness, but a sudden lurch by Dover and we saw we were wrong. We stayed calm, and by the end of the show we were quite certain we were bat-free. None the wiser about the plot but satisfied because the detectives had obviously gotten their - woman, we went upstairs and prepared for bed. So did, apparently, the bat; Dover kept us informed about where it was and when it was on the move. By the bookcase. Down the hall. In the bathroom. Back by the bookcase. We opened windows and shut doors, but every time we peeked, it was still somewhere out in the hall, and Dover, who was keeping me company in my room but eager to join in on the peeking, continued to be keen to do whatever dogs dream about doing with bats. 

When at rest, the bat was quite beautiful - it was a dark, velvety, matte black. It was, however, understandably alarmed, and it finally hid itself behind some books. Tom peeled off the books, and there it lay. I suggested he get a towel, gather it up, and take it outside, which he did. Now we are all wide awake, except Dover, who is out cold in font of a fan, and I hope the bat is happily devouring the mosquitoes and their ilk outside in the 98% humidity. We have passed into the next day.

When one of my sons was young, he became quite a fan of bats. He drew them, he painted a "Save the Bat" shirt, and he sewed a stuffed bat to sleep with. This morning, while bringing order to piles of my own drawings, I came upon some archival artwork -  bat pictures! "Bats are nice," one proclaimed. The bat above is definitely nice in that it has caught and will soon devour a poisonous spider that had been lurking in the cracks, waiting for a tasty meal to pass by.
[If you have trouble seeing what is going on
 in the bat den,click on the picture for a larger image.]

Thursday, July 19, 2012


It has been hotter than proverbial blazes here during the last week - over 100 for several days. Dover and I had entered the inner zen state of wet noodle and could hardly move off the couch, much less visit patients in nursing homes. But the wind came up last night and a slightly cooler mass of air rolled in (no rain, alas), so Dover and I suited up, which entails clipping his photo ID on his harness, and off we went to visit his friends.

The bed of the first patient (J.) was empty, the second patient (also J,) was cozily asleep, and the third patient (another J.!) had vacated her room also. There were plenty of others we met in the doorways and halls along the way who pet, stroked, scratched, and talked with Dover, but we were perplexed about our official crew. After a leisurely stroll down a third hallway, we turned a corner and there was out first J. in a small group waiting to play a game. We had a joyful visit, and then we continued on our quest. We turned yet another corner,and there was the second J. chatting with some friends. After greetings all around, we slowly made our way back to the other end of the hall, but the third J. was sill asleep. We loitered and visited a few people outside her room.

Then J's roommate, who had never acknowledged us or even looked at us, in fact had never been in any other posture than wrapped up in bed with her face to the wall, appeared at the door. Without a word spoken, I understood that she had come out to tell us that J was awake. We went in and had a lovely visit.

On the way to the elevator, I noticed a woman in a doorway watching us; we turned back to visit with her. She knew dogs, and was very expert in her technique of stroking Dover's head and ears. Then she said: "I stole a dog once."

I asked her to tell me about it. Once upon a time, she and her husband had been driving along a road when she saw a man came out of a house. He put a small dog on the top step, and proceeded to kick it down the steps. "Stop the car!" my new friend shouted to her husband. "Back up!". She leapt out of the car, scooped up the dog, and told her husband to step on it. "You are stealing that dog," he said. "I know. That man doesn't deserve this dog," she replied. She gave the dog a new life. "It was a good dog," she said. "People who treat dogs like that don't deserve to keep them." Dover and I were clearly in the presence of a star of a person.

Kindness is noticing and acting, doing the unexpected and taking a risk to bring comfort where it is needed. Dover brings out the kindness and the memories of kindness in the people he meets and greets, and I am privileged to be a witness to these conversations, spoken or taking place through mutual presence, dog and person held in silent communication.