Monday, July 20, 2009

Ridgebacks in the heat of the night

The temperature has been high here in San Jacinto. We can’t take pleasant walks; but we’ve been managing “ordeal”-walks every other night -- usually. I’ve been reading about warriors; and even though it’s been many years since I graduated from boot camp, surely I can still manage a little heat.

Last night at 22:30 with the temperature down to 82 degrees and the humidity I don’t know how high, but high, we went out. I picked a route where the fields were open around us to take advantage of any breeze, but there wasn’t much.

We weren’t too far down a farm road when I heard sirens. We stopped to look back and saw two police vehicles, lights flashing, heading north on Lyon, the street we had crossed just moments earlier. A moment later a helicopter appeared above Lyon, its search light shining down and moving about as the helicopter flew back and forth.

We continued west, but I kept looking back to make sure the helicopter wasn’t heading toward us. If it had appeared above us, I planned to shine my own light on my girls, to show that I was a dog-walker and not whatever malefactor they were searching for. Unless, of course, they were searching for me as a result of another call to the Anti-Terrorist Task Force by the unknown Ridgeback breeder who sent them after me the last time. That didn’t seem likely, but it crossed my mind. After a few moments the helicopter headed off toward the east, away from us. But soon it returned and shined its light down into a partially completed housing project. The farm road we had taken was just south of that project. It is private property, but we’ve walked that road for ten years without anyone challenging us. Still, I’d rather not have to explain my presence to the helicopter people or the people with flashing lights; so we headed north until we were out on a legal sidewalk. I decided to abbreviate our walk and head home. The girls didn’t object. There were cinder-block walls on each side of the street which seemed to increase the temperature and humidity. The girls were panting. Ginger slowed way down and Sage complained of having something in her paw, holding it up for me to check out. Ginger will do that on occasion, but that was the first time Sage did it.

And it was all an illusion. Once we were out on the legal, but hot, sidewalk, the helicopter disappeared and we never heard another siren --all the way back to our house.

Up in our air-conditioned study, the girls collapsed, giving good imitations of being comatose. Unless the temperature drops down at least into the low 70s, we are staying in tonight – probably -- although I expect the girls to start bugging me at around 22:00, Ginger especially. They are completely recovered from our ordeal of last night. Sage talked Ginger into going into the back yard for a game of chase. The temperature is 100 degrees so they didn’t stay out long – but long enough to inspire them both to take another nap.

That’s one of the many nice things about the Rhodesian Ridgeback. They aren’t napping every minute they are in the house, but nearly so. I hear that other dogs will be like that, at least that is what breeders of other breeds have told me, but they aren’t familiar with the Ridgeback; so they can’t really know. I do still think of downsizing, but each time I do I weigh the tradeoffs. At my age do I really want to learn the peculiarities of a new breed? How badly do I need something smaller? Maybe it will be smaller, but noisier which I won’t like. Maybe it will bug me when I want to study.

Last night we stood beneath a sky full of stars hearing a helicopter and watching its light. And then we listened to the night. Might it not be that whoever it is that they were after is heading this way. I didn’t think so, and the girls confirmed it. We were by ourselves in the heat of the night and at the deepest level, enjoyed being there.

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