Sunday, December 14, 2008

A roof over his woof

Pictured above is "Ravi," rescued from the lethal chamber in Hollister CA early this month and at present being fostered here in the Crumbling Manse. He's eighteen months old, gangly, goofy and about a head taller than the incomparable Napalm, who's the senior dog on these premises. The original deal was that we would look after him for ten days, after which he would proceed either to another foster home or to a permanent gig. In exchange for taking him in fresh from his reprieve (rescue organization A plucked him from the pound in Hollister, eighty miles south of here, and handed him off to Berkeley-based rescue organization B via a veterinarian in nearby Fremont, a Bay Area locus of the Southwest Asian diaspora—hence his name, bestowed by the vet, a grandson of the Raj—where the contents of his scrotal sac were extracted and discarded, who then fobbed the creature off on us that afternoon) we have first refusal on that gig. Heaven help me, I think I'm going to say yes. I'm looking around me at possessions—books, DVDs, clothing—knowing that some of these will perish in the coming months in consequence of my softheartedness. I will be distraught, wroth. Will I benefit, I wonder, from remembering that I entered into this doggie pact with my eyes open?

Let me say at once that this is an adorable dog. His disposition is sociable, affectionate and curious; he is obviously intelligent; understands and complies with "NO!", albeit with a vanishingly brief retention. I can't believe that he's spent his life feral: he must have had a human family to be so well socialized. I surmise that the hypothetical family permitted him free run of their beds, sofas and chairs, a privilege he will not enjoy here in the Crumbling Manse. Napalm (also a "shepherd mix"; sixteen in March; remarkably healthy for a dog of his size) is concerned that his alpha status not be questioned, and does much posturing and snarling, to which the younger responds "Oh! The alpha male deigns to growl at me! I am not worthy!", conveyed with appropriately submissive body language and much tail wagging. Napalm appears gratified by this. Yesterday we took them both to "Point Isabel," the largest of the local off-leash parks, and Ravi behaved himself very well, never copping an attitude toward dogs or people. When a couple of other canines tried a brutal dominance routine on him, he did not respond in snarling kind but rather removed himself from the fray with an air of puzzled surprise.

When he reached us that first Friday, separated forever from his human family, fresh off a fortnight in the pound with some hardened characters, emasculated just hours earlier, a clown-cone affixed to he head and confined to a big plastic cage for transport, he was thoroughly traumatized and frantic. Sprung from the plastic cage he was so obviously distraught by the cone (intended to keep his wandering tongue away from those fresh stitches) that we defied the guidelines promulgated by rescue org B and discarded the device just five minutes in. I think we must have seemed to him the first human beings since Veterans' Day who'd done anything right, and that we secured, in that moment of his deepest doggie despair, almost inexhaustible moral credit for the remainder of our association.

There are issues. Abandonment issues. Separation anxiety. Ravi does not like being left alone, and sublimates this tension in...scientific investigation of his surroundings. His approach to the world around him, which he indulges when left unsupervised for even a short time, appears to be: 1) Is it edible? 1a) If yes, eat it. If no, might it be edible on the inside? 1b) Investigate with teeth. 1c) If inedible, destroy and discard; look around for another candidate to subject to the scientific method. 2) Rinse and repeat. Casualties of this approach thus far include two sets of wooden mini-blinds and two dog pillows.

And yet, and yet...A sweeter-tempered creature you could not ask for. Affectionate, attentive, eager to please and physically easy on the eyes. I fear that I've bonded (Lina, of course, was always in the can). He's here for as long as he wants to be.