Sunday, January 9, 2011

True Magic

Meet The Steel Magnolia. No. We do not have a new dog. As is the case with many rescued dogs, Magic, who has lived with us for more than a year, continues to share with us who she really is.

Magic might have been born and spent her early years in an outdoor cage in the High Desert of California, but she is letting us know that she is truly a Steel Magnolia--that unique product of the South: sweet and soft on the outside, tough and determined on the inside.

Magic faces a dilemma every morning: She wants to be the dog next to me on the living room sofa while I read my Prayer Book. She also wants to be the dog occupying the love seat in my study when I move to my computer. If she sits next to me on the sofa in the living room, it gives Bingley the opportunity to co-opt the love seat in my study. If she goes directly to the love seat in my study, Bingley just might stay in the living room and soak up all my attention: a possibility which Magic does not wish to contemplate.

In this contest, Magic has a distinct advantage: Bingley is highly distractable, a common characteristic of Greyhounds--reinforced by his racing career. Magic, on the other hand, is contemplative and deliberate.

This morning she chose to stay with me on the living room sofa--nudging my hand with her nose if I stopped patting her. Bingley lay for a while on the adjacent love seat until some sound required investigation. But--for once--he was ahead of the game and settled on the love seat in my study. When I moved to the computer, Magic discovered that she had been out-foxed and was not pleased.

When this situation is reversed, Bingley might protest at first, but he will eventually find something else to do--patrolling for the rabbit that has taken up residence in our backyard, for example--or settle on the cushions on the floor and drift off to sleep.

Not Miss Magic. This morning, Magic remained totally focused on getting the prized place on the love seat. She stayed in close proximity, never compromised by settling in the "second best" cushions. She just waited.

And sure enough, something distracted Bingley. The second he jumped down from the love seat, Magic was there. She is now resting with her head on a bolster pillow and shows every sign of staying where she is for as long as she wishes.

Steel Magnolias can also be remarkably stoic. Yesterday, as usual, John and I stopped by a little park about two thirds of the way along our walk route. We go as far as the trash can, deposit poop bags, and turn for home. The park contains a number of mature liquid amber--sweet gum--trees, which drop spikey seed pods perfectly designed to inflict maximum pain in a dog's paw pad.

When Bingley steps on a sweet gum pod, he whimpers and lifts the afflicted paw.

Yesterday, we left the park and started down the hill for home. Magic stopped. She seemed to be looking off in the distance. I assumed that she was frightened and urged her on. She took a few more steps and stopped again, looking off in the distance. But this time, she refused to move. No whimpering. No crying. Just absolute determination.

For want of a better idea, I started to examine her paws. Nothing in the front right. Nothing in the front left. Then in her right rear paw I found it: an embedded sweet gum pod. I pried it out. It must have been a painful procedure, but she let me do it with no protest.

Steel Magnolias do not complain. But they always get their way.

1 comment:

  1. Magic's voice will now always have a southern accent in my mind.