Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ridgebacks, a Schnoodle, and existential threats

The weather finally cooled off enough to make an early-morning trip to the river. I didn't feel up to it. Susan's Schnoodle, Duffy, kept me awake until about 05:00, but I didn't want to pass up a chance to get to the river; so I got my knapsack and loaded it, my two Ridgeback girls, and Duffy into the Jeep and off we went. This was Duffy's first ride in my Jeep and he wasn't sure what to make of it. When we started down the dirt road toward the river, Duffy saw Ginger in the backseat staring off into the distance, but before he could try and see what she was looking at we were there. The Jeep ride had befuddled, but once he was on the sand, his confidence returned. It was 08:15.

Duffy's fur made an excellent foxtail collector; so he and I walked on clear sand as much as we could.

I knew the girls would get as much exercise as they needed by chasing rabbits if they could find any or each other. As to Duffy, I kept him on leash. My goal was to get him used to being down there. I wanted him to enjoy himself; so I let him sniff whatever he liked. At one point he took a mouthful of sand -- I suppose he was interested in learning whether it was good to eat. I gather he decided it wasn't.

Duffy communicated his wishes extremely well. He would tell me when he wanted me to carry him by looking up at me and pawing at my leg. And when he wanted back down he would squirm. Our outing took a little over an hour. The girls got their exercise and Duffy got his first exposure to the river.

As for me, I found myself thinking about something someone wrote in a forum yesterday. He argued that the 9/11 attack was not an existential threat, and since it wasn't, what we did in response was an over-reaction. We were at the halfway point in our hike. I poured some water into a little dish and held it for the girls and Duffy to drink. But the interesting thing about that water stop is that we were attacked by a great number of bugs. When we had been walking along, they left us alone, maybe it was still too cool for them to be chasing after anyone, but when I kneeled down and took the water bottle and the dish out of my knapsack, they attacked. They were an annoyance to be sure, but I asked myself, "are they an existential threat," and had to answer that they were not.

I thought about boot camp. Bugs would land on us while we stood at attention, but we were forbidden to swat them. The first person who swatted on was called out in front of the platoon and informed by our Drill Instructor that as "boots," we were a lower form of life. To strike a bug would involve attacking a higher form of life which we were forbidden.

Ironically, that's what Arab Islamists think about themselves, that they are something like a higher form of life. They think of themselves as the most blessed of all people because Allah chose to send his messenger to them. Arab arrogance based on being the first Muslims tends to show up from time to time in conflict or competition with other Muslim ethnicities. My lack of sleep seemed to blend ideas together. Would my getting out the Ben's 30, Wilderness Formula Insect Repellent be an overreaction? No, no, I thought. These bugs were not an existential threat, especially after the girls finished the water and we started back.

We were only at the river for a little over an hour but what if we lived in such a place? Bugs would have us at their mercy. Would Ben's bug spray be justified under those circumstances? Hey, I rationalized; maybe Ben's doesn't kill bugs. Maybe it only makes them sick. I have never actually seen a bug die from an encounter with Ben's insect repellant.

"Oh you hypocrite," my Pacifistic alter ego said. "That is very like what they said about Agent Orange. But do you really care about those bugs? They land on your shirt or neck and then perhaps fly off, but do you wait around to see the hundreds of bugs born with birth defects? Do you care about the weeping bug mothers who rock their still-born bug babies in their arms? No, of course you don't. You are just another insensitive Jarhead looking for something to kill."

Well, I knew that wasn't true. I didn't go "looking" for those bugs. They came looking for me. If you don't want a reaction then leave the back of my neck alone. You might sneer and accuse me of making up an enemy so I can be a hero, but if you land on the back of my neck; then I'm reaching for the Ben's Insect Repellent and whatever happens after that is going to be on your head and not mine.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Rocco doesn't get enough time to run. He's still afraid of wading in the water and rarely runs off. He mostly stays close at hand. I would like him to run on and explore.

Here's something I don't know and maybe you do: How much has Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Dubai, Syria, Lebanon, Algeria, Morocco, Iran, and Turkey contributed to the relief efforts in Pakistan?