Island Life


When I woke up this morning looking through the bars, I was reminded of the first time I ever spent any time in jail. It was a long time ago, and it was the only time I’ve been in jail- once was enough. The bars I just recently was looking through, however, were those of a dog crate we’ve set up in the living room. The dog that was on the other side of those bars had not been bad, and the only thing she had done wrong was to exceed the limit on her left rear anterior cruciate ligament to the point where a surgical fix had been highly recommended. And so it was that our rescued pitbull, who goes by the given name of Elle King (and answers also to Elle, Ellington, Buggy or “time for breakfast”), went under the knife last Saturday, and has now been put on restricted movement and “don’t lick your stitches” watch. It has been an amazing process to watch, since she was mostly able to walk to the car a few hours after her surgery. She forged onward with her usual tenacity and with the help of an extremely slow pace on my part, and by helping her stay steady with the assistance of a belly sling that I held in one hand while slightly guiding her with the leash I held in the other.

Elle has gone from being a willing consumer of the battery of pills that came home with her, to being a master of epicurean sleuthdom in her ability to detect and reject her meds in whatever disguise we try to administer them in. At first it was margarine that was the highly successful agent of medicinal subterfuge, and everything just slid right down to the land of gastronomic juices and digestive action. And then a certain awareness came over her that suddenly triggered an enough is enough response that started with a tight jawed resistance and ended with a forceful tongued ejection of a drool-covered margarine ball that had the masked pill still firmly imbedded inside. This led to other attempts to deliver the goods in a variety of disguises- feta cheese, peanut butter, wet dog food, two flavors of doggie pill pockets and several frustrated and fruitless attempts at just jamming the pill as far back in her mouth as possible and holding her muzzle shut with my hands while waiting for the swallow reflex that never arrived until after the pill had left the building in the wrong direction, so to speak.

And so it was that this morning I reached into the cabinet below the kitchen counter and pulled out the marble mortar and pestle and ground the round, sedative pill into a fine powder and mixed that with a vegetable broth. I then sucked it all up with a needle-less syringe and made an attempt at squirting it slowly behind Elle’s back canines in from the side. There was still quite a bit of resistance and a degree of slobbering, but for the most part this seemed to be a delivery system for which she had few defenses. While there are three other pills that she “should” be taking along with this one, it seemed that this was the most crucial, since the swelling is going down on its own, and she has shown almost no signs of pain or suffering that would warrant any further use of the codeine. What seems to be of most concern from the keeper and minder perspective is that in just four short days she has returned to the alertness and the aspiration-to-activity dog that was her pre-surgery self. And so it was that with the realized futility of a proper English explanation to her as to why previous raucous activity levels were unacceptable for now, it was deemed most important of all to bring on the knock out juice. This was the compromise we reached in the pleading-eyed negotiations, if she was going to be allowed to forego the humiliation of the cone of shame and the isolation of the folding, black-wire prison while I was around to monitor all activities.

Of course, the “prison” still stands in the middle of the living room where the coffee table used to be. This is both a good and a bad thing- good because if she has to be in there while we are around, then she is not far from our view and we from hers. The bad part is that while we are away she is on full view to the other three dogs and two cats, and at the moment with the stitches still a concern, Elle has to wear the cone so she doesn’t just decide it’s time for them to come out of her own accord. But with the crate that has just wire sides sitting in the middle of the room, it leaves wide open the possibility of unrestrained mocking sessions from the other pets  from all sides. There is, however, no reason to think that any of the furry friends would engage in such acts of humiliation and chastisement, mostly since the only real emotions these pet buddies seem to be feeling for Elle right now are sympathy and empathy, if anything at all. A humiliation session while we were away by the rest of the animal gang seems mostly as unlikely as the possibility that the friends who were in the van with me when I was arrested for speeding in Virginia back in the seventies would have mocked me either while I was waiting to get bailed out by one of their parents, or afterward. I was, after all, giving them a ride home for a college break, and fortunately we were almost to their homes when I got pulled over.

I think of Bill’s dad when I think about the secret side of the District of Columbia and our government. I remember Bill saying that he did not know where his dad worked or what exactly it was that he did. But he was in one of the agencies there that worked in the shadows to make things run. What I remember most about that night was how angry his dad was when he got there to find that they had locked me in a cell for speeding. He was fairly adamant that my being locked up for an hour was an act that exceeded the severity of my so-called crime. This must have been somewhere around the time of the “energy crisis” in the mid-seventies, when speed limits were dropped everywhere to 55mph to “conserve fuel”. That would have meant that if I had been going 70 or 75, which had been the speed limit previously on I-95, then the penalty would have been a cash value that I and my friends would not have been carrying, and why were lucky that this happened close to their home. The judge (this was obviously a cash cow speed trap) would not take out of state checks and there were no ATM’s at the time.

This would have been either just before or just after Nixon’s resignation- with Ford’s pardon we did not have much time to revel in thoughts of what sort of justice he might have met otherwise. There is at least some consolation in watching Robert Altman’s little known film, ‘Secret Honor’, which portrayed the rumored emotional self-torture Nixon might have experienced during his exile at his San Clemente beach house. I thought about Bill’s dad during the Cheney-Bush era years later, although chances are he had retired by then. I would like to have imagined that if he had been still in one of the agencies, that he wouldn’t have had anything to do with the dark sites and the torture and the waterboarding and Abu-Graib, but I will never know. I still think about justice denied in the form of George W. Bush’s current political rehabilitation and Dick Cheney’s paranoid self-exile. Neither of them got what they deserved for what they did. In the light of all of that, it makes me skeptical of the outcome of all the current investigations and reportings regarding the Trump Swamp Thing. It just feels like, in spite of all that is wrong here, there will be no justice at the end. I just feel like this will end like the mess with my sister and the family lawyer. In spite of the fact that she grossly violated the terms of my parents’ trust and would have certainly been prosecuted under the recent New Hampshire elder abuse law if she had done what she did a year later when the new law was enacted. As it was, she walked away from it all without so much as a slap on the wrist. And even though there was plenty of evidence that the lawyer was complicit in my sister’s actions, my complaint to the N.H. attorney discipline board was turned down because they had a different way of determining when the statute of limitations ran out, and so the good old lawyer buddy boys gave him a pass, and the local college gave him a great lawyer award for services rendered elsewhere. So I am cynical and skeptical about how the Trump mess will play out. I guess though that I can still hope against hope, and in my extreme doubt that Trump will get anything but a pass, I may have a chance of being otherwise surprised if the special counsel nails him to the wall.

As always, I will leave the so-called breath-holding to the free divers of the world, and otherwise just muddle along here on the surface. Getting back to my current pet dilemma, I am fairly to mostly certain that when Elle is in the crate in the middle of the room with the cone on, all the pets feel her pain. I’m just sorry I can’t tell her why I’m tying on the cone and locking the door, but I guess if I could I wouldn’t have to put her in there in the first place.