Eleanor the hero
Wednesday, June 2 2010
As she did yesterday, this morning Gretchen took the three dogs (which included Ray's dog Suzy, who has been here for a week) on a long walk in the forest. Whatever neurological problem Suzy had been experiencing (Ray thought it might be a side effect of a dose of FrontLine) seems to have mostly cleared up. Suzy still swerves a bit as she walks, but she mostly goes where she wants to.
But on this particular walk, Gretchen lost Suzy somewhere in the woods. Normally this is no big deal; we often lose Eleanor or especially Sally, but they always come home within a half hour. But Suzy was gone and she was staying that way. So Ray headed off into the woods retracing Gretchen's route backwards. He called at least once (he wasn't in a cellphone dead zone) to make sure he was going the right way. But he couldn't find her.
So then I rode a bike down the Farm Road (the way Gretchen had set out), but saw nothing.
By now Ray and Gretchen were growing worried, so the three of us set out as a search party. Ray and Gretchen went down the Stick Trail and I went down the farm road (on a bicycle again, but this time with Eleanor running along beside me). The idea was for us to head in separate directions and meet somewhere back there.
So there I was, sometimes walking the bike, sometimes riding it down that bumpy Stick Trail. I'd occasionally holler for Suzy or bark in the baleful way she does (hoping she'd respond). I'd stop and listen and hear nothing. Eleanor stuck closely with me until I crossed a ravine that occasionally drains rainwater from a saddle region between two of the peaks of Hurley Mountain. At that point Eleanor separated from me and ran down the ravine, which starts to descend a very steep slope below the Stick Trail. I'd been waiting for Eleanor to give me some sort of sign, so I followed her down the ravine to where she had stopped. And there she was, Suzy. She was sitting there in the ravine doing nothing at all, and would have ignored me completely had I not seen her. I called down to her repeatedly and reluctantly she started climbing the hill towards me, but she wasn't doing too well. Ocassionally her trajectory would change, sending her down the slope away from me. So I had to go down to her an make sure she made it up the hill. This proved so difficult that I was forced to carry her part of the way. Mind you, she weighs somewhere between 70 and 80 pounds (that's the weight of Eleanor plus Sally minus the weight of Sylvia the cat).
At about this time Gretchen arrived from the other direction. And so I told her the made-for-legend story of how Eleanor had saved Suzy's life. Seriously, had it not been for Eleanor pulling a Lassie, Suzy might have starved to death out there in that ravine.
I'd never been so impressed by a dog doing something useful before. Had Eleanor remembered where last she'd seen Suzy on her earlier walk? Had she followed a scent trail? Had she heard a sound Suzy had made that my ears had been unable to detect? And had Eleanor known all along that we'd gone into the woods just to find Suzy? I'd love to know the answers to these questions, but no matter what they would be it takes nothing away from Eleanor's heroism. All of us humans had had a need, and Suzy had had a need, and Eleanor rose to the occasion and satisfied it. She's a real canine hero. (And as much as I love Sally, I can't imagine her doing something that requires so much empathy.)
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