THE RITUAL begins at 7 in the morning. Benny, the floppy-eared Philosopher, and his companion, Sadie, the sprightly 'little girl' with the dirty nose, arrive at the Ol' Homestead's back door. Several hours later, Griff the Wanderer, might choose to pay a visit. In the doorway, Molly, the Sophisticated (Cat) Lady, peers out with a certain disdain. Of course, I'm writing about dogs and a cat that truly are a part of my family.
Just when this scribbler was about to "pontificate" on the latest happenings in Pakistan and also about a Saudi cleric, who explains "wife beating" with a toothpick (I'm not kidding you), Mark R. Levin, a well-known radio talk show host and lawyer, appeared on TV. And what was he talking about? His latest book: Rescuing Sprite, which has been described as a "stunningly intimate look at the love between a family and a dog."
So Levin, who had earlier written a bestseller called Men In Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America, and is a "talker" on WABC in New York, has a way with words, but his heart was showing when he wrote about Sprite and an inseparable companion named Pepsi. Yes, both were named after the beverages.
For me, this love affair with animals began during the WWII years in Pictou, Nova Scotia. With my father working under the boats and my mother trying to keep this once-little tyke, Kerwood, from getting into too much mischief, a constant companion was a dog named Sport.
Wandering through fields and along country backroads, Sport was my closest friend, and then he stopped by a nearby army base, and my parents told me later he had been fed some tainted meat. It was the first heartbreak of my young life.
And then there was a separation from the animal kingdom. At the end of my road in Bass River was a "monster" of a dog, which eyed me like a bone, particularly when I was trying to pedal past him on my one-speed bicycle.
Also in my neighbourhood was a collie named Pal, but for whatever reason he "attacked" my baby brother, Garry (now a Winnipeg psychologist). His life was, undoubtedly, saved by heavy winter clothing.
So two bad experiences sidelined my "love affair" until moving to the Ol' Homestead in the mid-1990s. In the intervening years, there have been the likes of Abby, Kay-a, Brutus, Amos, and a black Lab named Jake, whom The Missus and I had helped nurse back to health.
"Skakey, shakey, Jake-y" was a common phrase as this "family member" tried to dislodge wax (or other substances) from his ears. However, now Jake has passed on, and I still miss his pleasant personality.
That brings me to the threesome of Benny, who often listens to my troubles without ever judging me, and Sadie, the one with the dirty nose, and hulking Griff. As I said they are this man's best friends.
Which leads me back to Levin and his heart-warming dog story, in which he was traumatized by Sprite's death and of friends such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, which were able to support him through his time of grief.
As a dog lover, I can hardly wait until Rescuing Sprite hits the bookstands.
"Now, Benny and Sadie, let's go for a walk ... Hey, does anyone know where Griff has gone?" Molly the Sophisticated (Cat) Lady just turned up her nose and walked away and I thought I heard her meow: "Peasants."