He’s done it again, this little hunting schnoodle of ours. Or so I’d thought.
Every dog has a purpose, and Fitz’s just happens to be hunting lizards. On our afternoon walks, he’s not looking in the grass. He’s likely to walk headfirst into bushes and posts, even his two brothers, as he watches the brick sides of the house for lizards – green chameleons, red-headed skinks, striped skinks, and the brown ugly gecko-looking kind that resemble jagged pieces of pine bark.
Bless his heart, his eyesight is failing him terribly, but his passion never wanes. Sometimes he misses what is right under his nose, so I confess – – there are times that I do the equivalent of what drug enforcement agents do for their drug canines to boost their confidence- – I catch a lizard and plant it right in front of him so he can continue to be the dog he was born to be. My precious protector needs to believe that he will always hold aggressive baby killer dinosaurs at bay, far from his mom. I watch through finger slats over shielded eyes as he rips the tails and other appendages off, and plug my ears so I don’t hear the crunch – cheering silently for him in his relentless innate sport.
One night last week, we noticed a huge dragonfly flitting through the garage, clearly lost and trying to find his way back outside. He was stuck above the opened door and couldn’t quite figure out that lowering his altitude would have made a world of difference. We opted not to try to help him, fearing we would damage a wing. We trusted he would find his way out once the lights were off and he could adjust his focus in the dark.
When I came back inside from filling the birdfeeders early the next morning, all three dogs were huddled in a circle in the middle of the living room rug like they were at Wednesday night prayer meeting. They didn’t scatter off as I approached to see what was up. They were all staring at the giant dragonfly staring back at them, belly-up on the rug. Even Fitz, his hunter instinct in check, seemed to show concern for this beautiful creature who had apparently darted in the house, unbeknownst to us.
I held a faint glimmer of hope that he would recover. I took him outside and placed him carefully on the front porch coffee table and gave him a pep talk. He seemed to be bidding the world goodbye, just as Charlotte did, waving her front leg as she was languishing, and I tried to shove the memory of grief deep back inside and bury it under fiftyish years of time. Yet still, half a decade later, the Zuckerman Farm has become the Johnson Funny Farm, and I still believe I’m part-Fern who never grew up. Today, a dragonfly replaces a spider, and three schnoodles replace a pig, a goose, and a sheep – and I’m still humanizing every creature that dwells here with us as I consider the impact that E.B. White’s beloved story Charlotte’s Web continues to have on me.
Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away.