Friday, July 18, 2008

Memories of early days

Yesterday while housecleaning I found old home movies on VHS tapes, so I popped them in to see what they were about.

Lo and behold, there was a very young, fit, agile Felanie prancing on the TV. For a minute, it hurt, but then I laughed because she was being chased around and bitten by our rescued duck, Fred, another family member that has since left us.

Fred was a tiny yellow duckling that got dumped at a pet store some time after Easter; the pet store gave him to me, and until he was full-grown, he lived in our house--we had just moved in and we were remodeling it while living there, another event fully covered by the home movies--and he hung out with two pit bulls, two prairie dogs, and a rabbit. While he was little, he swam in our bathtub.

After he became full-sized, we transferred Fred to the backyard and provided him with a baby pool for his swimming pleasure. Fred also matured in other ways; he became a large, intimidating fellow that, frankly, everyone preferred to admire from afar--because if he was able to get close enough, he would bite and nip anything that moved. We never had stray cats in our yard with Fred guarding it. He also honked very loudly if he saw an unfamiliar person or animal in the yard--a great watchduck. I often considered replacing the "Beware of Dog" sign on the fence with "Beware of Duck."

His love of biting is fully evident on the tape, and it's quite funny now that the painful memories have been muted by time. He bites Taz (my ex-roommate's pit bull, also no longer with us) and Felanie, and attacks my toes with dozens of sharp pecks. I pry his beak off my toes with my hands, or kick at him to knock him loose. The dogs are much nicer to him. Even when he clamps onto the loose skin on Felanie's throat and twists hard, she just stands there and waits for him to get bored. It obviously hurts, but Fel accepts it. Taz play-bows and dances around Fred, then runs in terror when he launches an assault on her paws. A few times, he chases the dogs as they play with a stick, and even attacks Felanie, apparently for control of the stick; Felanie drops the stick and flees without qualms, though she later steals it back while Fred is preening himself.

My precious Felanie looks good on the tape. This is very soon after she became my dog. She's young, and all her fur is a beautiful tan/red color that matches her nose. No gray hair, no scars from surgeries--and her natural long tail. She looks naked; the color and detail in the video is off just enough that her fur looks like skin.

There's a long segment where the dogs are playing in the hose. Felanie jumps and leaps and races around, chasing the water stream, and now I remember what inspired me to start us in agility classes. She was really lithe and athletic until she started having hip problems some years later. At some other point she races around a pile of debris in the yard (from the remodeling project) and in her enthusiasm, she crashes into a particularly sharp-looking piece of something; now I reflect on the events leading up to her tail crop some years later.

At one point I'm on film--the camera is on a tripod--and I'm having Taz and Felanie do tricks on the living room floor (oh, the horrors of pre-remodel salmon pink carpet!). After the tricks are done, I kneel down on the floor, Felanie comes to sit in front of me, and I embrace her entire body against my chest in a bear hug. She's almost as big as I am.

Watching the video, I can almost feel my old dog in my arms again, like a phantom limb. At this moment I am painfully jealous of my on-screen counterpart. She doesn't know how lucky she is. To the TV, I whisper: "Don't let her go."


Anonymous said...

Oh sweetie. I welled up with tears reading your post. I wish I had some video memories of my other dogs. I have a dream now and again about my lab bear. In it she puts her paws on my shoulders, then leans into me with her head on my neck. It's like a hug. I always wake up thinking of her.

Daisys mom, Annie

forsythia said...

Lovely moments, beautifully described. I felt as if I were watching your video.

Anonymous said...

If you were trying to choke me up, you succeeded. :-)