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Tuesday, 03 May 2011

Animal Kingdom

By Mary B Summerlin who keeps a photostream at Flickr

When Blitz, my beautiful and wonderful German Shepherd died February 13, 2004, the animal kingdom around my house went out of kilter. That includes me too.

Blitz came into my life like a storm. He was big, beautiful, curious, intelligent, full of energy and immediately decided that my house and the inhabitants around it were his kingdom. It took some - no, a lot of work for all of us to find our place but we did and it was a “peaceable kingdom”. It was so for two-and-a-half years.

And when he was four-and-a-half years old, Blitz died.

The next day, there were eight squirrels on my back deck raiding the bird feeders. Blitz knew it was his job to keep the squirrels at bay and he did his job with a passion. Occasionally a squirrel might sneak by and grab a bit of food but it was risky business for the squirrel.

Now, obviously, they planned to take over.

BUT, the next day I was working at my computer when I heard an awful racket. I turned my head to look out the sliding glass door and just got a glimpse of a hawk swooping down and grabbing a squirrel that was sitting on the picnic table happily eating a sunflower seed.

I’ve never seen anything happen so fast. The hawk was on the gutter of my house (that was the noise I heard) patiently waiting until just the right moment and then it was all over for the squirrel.

So the squirrels can’t get too careless. That was the first and last time I’ve seen the hawk and no, I don’t know what kind it was. I just saw a blur.

Emma, one of my cats, caught two birds the second day Blitz was gone. She couldn’t do that before because Blitz would never let her sit still and be unnoticed.

So now the birds have to watch out for the cats. I have to rethink the placing of the bird feeders – make it hard for the cats to use them as bait.

And, Blitz never let any neighbor cat come anywhere close to our yard without a big fuss. The cat always left – the barking was just too much.

Now Midas, my big orange tabby, has taken up his old job – the one he held before Blitz came – that of being “attack cat”. Anytime a neighbor cat comes around, Midas immediately chases him away. If he’s inside he meows very loud and waits at the door for me to let him out.

He’s out like a shot – all poofed up, tail up high and racing toward the intruder who sees him coming and usually leaves immediately.

The dogs next door come to the fence and bark and bark – as if to say, where are you, Blitz, come talk to us, we miss you, where are you, Blitz?

The next door neighbor called to say, “Be careful, the coyote has killed seven of our ducks in the last 10 days”. That never happened when Blitz was here. The coyote knew that this was Blitz’ territory.

Gage, a cute little Fox Terrier that lives about five houses down the road, came to see Blitz about a week after he died. They were friends. Every time Gage got out, he came to see Blitz.

Blitz barked furiously and acted mean and Gage just came on in; he could squeeze through the fence. He looked at Blitz in that arrogant stance of little dogs and said something like, “Don’t you even think about touching me” and Blitz said, “okay,” and he didn’t.

Every time Gage was gone, his owner came up here and usually found Gage. That morning, Gage searched the yard for Blitz, then came up on the deck, stood in front of me and asked, “where’s Blitz, he’s always here, where is he?”

He stayed with me for awhile and I tried to explain. Then Gage left to go home and he hasn’t been back since.

Two weeks after Blitz was gone, I looked out and there in my side yard was a deer. Before Blitz, there was a deer herd that traveled my property regularly. For the past two-and-a-half years, there had been no deer or deer ticks. Now there is one deer – soon there will be more. And once again, I’ll have to be more careful about deer ticks.

The wild turkeys are making their way back too. There is a flock of them that use the trees in my side yard as their roosting place. Blitz made them nervous and at first, they stayed away, then they seemed to have figured out that he could only go so far (the fence you know) so they came some.

Now I can lean over the deck railing and throw out cracked corn and they come running to eat. Winters are harsh here in New York.

And now, as I contemplate all these changes, just because one loved animal has gone, I am overwhelmed - the sadness, the loss, the out of balance, the out of kilter. Our world as we knew it is gone. There is a big hole there.

The bird feeders are empty and I’m too empty myself to fill them - maybe tomorrow.

We all have to find our place again – find our balance – care for each other.

We will, but it’s a hard job – Blitz left a big hole.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


You have an animal kingdom in your back yard.

My daughter has a German Shepherd named Hans and he is no Blitz. He barks at the neighbors dog, but welcomes any intruder with joy; be it human or animal.

When my son's left for college their German Shepard, King, went to a big farm to live. We all missed him greatly for he chased away all the raccoons, which now come regularly to look for food. Now the neighborhood cats come caterwauling around under our windows.I guess in the animal kingdom maybe this is balance, but our minds didn't adjust to that very easily. We still miss King as you do Blitz.

A lovely tribute to a lovely creature, Mary, in your life for too short a time .

Love your story..had two beloved dogs, few years apart, Sam, a wild mix of shepherd and probably doberman, trained somewhere as a watchdog..always felt so safe when he was around & Maggie, an English Sheepdog, opposite of Sam in so many ways..totally loyal to me, Sam loved my husband like I'd always heard dogs could do..both dogs were "cowed" by the various cats we had..my 3 kids learned to be good with animals & still recall all the Sam & Maggie adventures, at home & camping in our VW bus in the 70s..they sure take a place in your heart when they come to live in your home..Your place seems perfect for dogs..all that action going on, city dogs don't get a big break with those elements available in the country...Beautiful tribute to man's and woman's best friend, the dog...thank you...

Thank you for your comments and understanding how important Blitz was to me.

You do, indeed, run an animal kingdom around your home, Mary. Sounds like paradise to me.

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