Lens-Artists Challenge: Precious Pets

Tina is up for some fun in this week’s challenge as she invites us to look at Precious Pets. She especially mentioned a pet ox. So…

Meet Ted and Bear, a team of oxen that I considered co-workers when I was at Old World Wisconsin. They were very good at following voice commands given by Dirk, the farmer. They hauled wagons and did all the heavy lifting around the 19th Century living history museum. They weren’t really “pets”, I guess, but the photo Tina shared wasn’t really an ox, either. I think it was a domestic water buffalo. (I stand corrected. Tina assures me it is a domestic ox.)

Now, I must confess that I don’t have any pets at the moment. The only animals I have ever lived with were cats, fish, and my daughter’s mice.  But I love animals and consider them sentient beings worthy of the greatest respect. I am an enthralled observer of the wild creatures that live around the nature preserve where I rent a house. There are a pair of Sandhill Cranes that visit from March through November. 

I am delighted by their elegance and their devotion. Each year, I mark their nesting and parenting habits. The first year, they fledged twins. Subsequent years were not so rewarding. One year, they had a colt that was hit by a car. This season, one of the adults disappeared for a while. Now there are two again. A new romance, perhaps. Cranes are a symbol of fidelity because they mate for life and always look out for each other. When one is foraging for food with its head down, the other is not far away, and on the lookout. 

I am and have been a proud grandmother of quite a few “fur babies”, however. What I am most proud of, I think, is seeing how my children love and nurture and foster pets, truly doing their best to care for them and have meaningful relationships with them. My kids have taught me quite a lot about dogs, and I have learned to relate very well to them, overcoming a sort of phobia I developed as a young child who was overcome on the beach by an excited Irish Setter. Here’s a gallery of my “grandkids”:

For myself, I have a sweet little companion I call Jimmy Bear. He shares my bed and eats nothing. A pretty nice arrangement, I must say. 

How to Be Awesome

I’m transitioning to another phase in life.  My job as an interpreter at Old World Wisconsin is ending for the season.  Working for minimum wage at a living history museum was one of the most awesome choices I’ve ever made.  I decided to spend my time doing something that I found interesting and valuable instead of compromising my satisfaction to make a bigger paycheck.  However, I want to do better.  I want to do something even more significant and important with my time and energy, something more socially responsible, more environmentally responsible, more philosophically moral.  I don’t know what that will turn out to be… yet.  A blogger friend posted this Oprah quote and got me thinking: “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”  (Thanks, Susan from skedazzles!)  I want to prepare myself for my next awesome choice and make sure that I am open and aware of opportunities.  Something will undoubtedly fall into my lap.  As I was talking to Steve about this, we were actually living an example.  Here’s what happened…

Driving home from the grocery store, I noticed a black Labrador trotting down the street toward the park without an owner in sight.  After I’d unpacked the groceries and made lunch, I heard a woman calling outside.  I went out to ask if she was looking for a black dog.  She was, and I told her where I’d seen it.  About a half hour later, Steve and I went out to take a walk.  The woman was still looking for the dog; she told us that it belonged to her niece who lives around the corner from us at a house with a “For Sale by Owner” sign.   So we went walking in the direction of the park.  We heard someone calling a dog down by the river and learned that another couple was looking for a German shepherd named Corky.  We told them that there was also a lab named Drake on the loose.  We resumed our walk.  A little while later, it started raining, and we headed back toward home.  We saw Corky’s folks turning their van into an adjacent park across the street.  They called to us and told us they’d found the lab down by the bridge.  They hadn’t found Corky yet, though.  When we got to the bridge, there was Drake, secured to a post by a leash, presumably donated by Corky’s folks.  So we untied him and walked him home.  By then, it was pouring.  About a block from home, a car was driving slowly down the street.  I guessed it was the woman looking for Drake.  She was incredibly excited and pleased to see us leading the dog homeward.  Her niece was at work on her first day back from maternity leave and had asked her aunt to let the dog out at lunch.  Now I imagine this young mother, worried about leaving her dog and baby and going back to work.  I’m soaking wet, but loading the dog into auntie’s car, I felt awesome.  I had been out in my neighborhood, just paying attention to my surroundings, and was able to help someone out.  I wasn’t trying very hard at all, but I was open to events as they unfolded.  It was a very satisfactory afternoon.