Chapter 11: Mr. Svelte (excerpt from Chert Dog)

“My Father’s Greatest Gift: Life Lessons from a Black English Labrador Retriever”

My Father’s Greatest Gift

Bootcamp has been very challenging for me as I am
ALWAYS hungry and get very tired on my walks uphill. After my
daily ‘choopie fit” I normally have “doggie aerobics” which entails
stretching my legs and working them as if I were swimming. I just
LOVE to swim! We also have fun with “spin the dog” which seems to
work very nicely on the carpeted floor in the living area. I get turned
around and around until I get really dizzy. It actually is lots of fun
because it makes me feel like a puppy once again. It is so important
to incorporate daily exercise into your life. As I am finding out,
I feel better, I look better and I have a brighter outlook and enjoy
activities more now that I am slimming down and building stronger
muscles. Sometimes I am referred to as Mr. Slimbutt which actually
is a wonderful compliment as opposed to my earlier nickname of
Mr. Coffee Table. Isn’t it great to tape over old messages with new
ones that are uplifting, motivating and energizing?! Oh boy, oh boy,
oh boy!

In my new neighborhood, there are several children who
come over to visit ME and even ask if they can walk ME! It makes
my heart sing and my dancing front paws sound like tap shoes on
the sidewalk. I get so excited going for walks with my new friends.
In the mornings, Lori walks me to the end of the block to visit with
a Slovak gentleman who reminds me a bit of John. He usually wears
a quilted flannel shirt just like my Master did and even speaks to me
in Slovak (Lori attempts to speak some words, but her inability to roll
her “rrrr’s” is a real disadvantage in speaking the language correctly).
Then the school bus arrives and all of my new friends get aboard the
bus and wave good-bye as they ride up the hill. I wish I could go to
school with them. I could talk to them about all of my stories that I am
sharing with you and they would laugh along with some of my antics.
Maybe some of the children have gone through losing someone that
they loved which would be something I could help them relate to as
well. I think what would be the most fun if I went to school is to ride
on the bus! I just LOVE RIDES! Don’t all Dogheads?…

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chert-and-aden

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Chapter 11: Mr. Svelte (excerpt from Chert Dog)

“My Father’s Greatest Gift:  Life Lessons from a Black English Labrador Retriever”

My Father’s Greatest Gift

My new family is involved in an old English style of dance
called Morris Dancing which involves groups of 4, 6, or sometimes
even 8 people who line-up in two rows across from each other wearing
white outfits and bells on their shins and either handkerchiefs or
sticks in their hands. They weave around each other and jump up in
the air and dance along with music which is played on instruments
such as an accordion, concertina, violin, drum and flute (just to name
a few). I understand that Lori and Chris met while dancing at the
Maple Sugar Festival in Marathon, NY. Morris Dancing remains an
important part of my new family’s life. That said Chris took me for
a ride with him to this old English Tudor styled inn in a place called
Gilbertsville. There were several other Morris dancers and musicians
at the inn, which they referred to as the Major’s Inn. There was much
music, dancing, drinking and food to enjoy. Several Morris dancers
gave me many yummy treats which I thankfully inhaled. Little did
I know that all this diet and exercise that I had been so diligently
pursuing would create such intestinal complications from this rich
food! Oh well, he wanted to bring me!

The next day Lori arrived with a very close friend who also happens to be a Morris dancer, but for the women’s team. Since the weather had turned cool and rainy,
they let me stay in the car, which I gladly enjoyed having the warmth
and comfort instead of the wet, hard pavement and sidewalk. Then,
we drove back to the Major’s Inn for a big feast! More rich food, but
this time Lori was keeping track of my diet regime and I thankfully
did not experience any further intestinal difficulties thank you very
much!

That evening, we were sleeping in a corner room of the vast
mansion when all of a sudden, there was an incredible amount of
noisy music coming from the hallway outside the door! Being the
protective and inquisitive Doghead that I am, I went closer to the
door to investigate all the commotion. Well, wouldn’t you know it,
they opened our bedroom door! Then the music and noise became
much louder and I began to wag my tail in anticipation of being able
to be part of this unusual sounding marching band. Apparently, my
presence was not well accepted as I was suddenly pushed back into
the room, sliding along the wooden floor as the door slammed behind
me! Oh well, I really didn’t care much for their style of music anyway.
I much more enjoyed the music accompanying the Morris Dancers.
Maybe that is why the marching band only plays at night because they
really are not very good – is sounds more like nonsense than music
to my Doghead ears anyway!

majors-inn

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In memory of Bob DeLucca

 

 

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Chapter 7: Twice The Treats (excerpt from Chert Dog)

“My Father’s Greatest Gift:  Life Lessons from a Black English Labrador Retriever”

My Father’s Greatest Gift

Now with two new families through marriage our lives are
really getting busier! More toys and treats for me! John is adjusting
well to all of the visits from his growing family with invitations to
visit and many activities. He seems to be softening up on the inside
as well as the outside, too. He laughs more and is excited about his
garden preparations for this year with many little plants started in the
sun room alongside the living room. He is quite a horticulturist with
his special lights, mixtures of soils and deliveries of unique seeds
and tiny plants.

As the weather began to get a bit warmer (and muddier), John
made greenhouse covers alongside the back garage to keep the tiny
transplanted plants warm and protected from any early spring frost.
He made them from recycled tanning bed covers. So his homemade
greenhouses kept the tiny plants warm and healthy as the weather
began to get warmer.

2000

Chapter 11: Mr. Svelte at Taughannock Falls (excerpt from Chert Dog)

“My Father’s Greatest Gift:  Life Lessons from a Black English Labrador Retriever”

My Father’s Greatest Gift

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! We all went on a family vacation
together and I got to stay overnight in a rustic wooden cabin in the
wooded-camping area of Taughannock Falls overlooking Cayuga
Lake. There were walks up the wide tree-lined pathway towards
waterfalls and we even got to go into the creek bed so I could swim
for a little bit. There were these deep sink-holes which made for a
refreshing experience. Several people of all shapes and sizes were at
the campsite, some had little children and Dogheads, too!

When it approached dusk, they tried to lock me up in the
cabin by myself, but it did not interest me in the least to rest inside
when I could be exploring new sights with them. So, we all piled
into the car and drove to a restaurant situated a few miles from the
campsite. They parked the vehicle very close to a window to the
restaurant so that they could see me from the inside. And you guessed
it – NO DOGS ALLOWED in the restaurant! I was very reluctant
with the situation at first, and continued to comment as they kept
coming out to talk to me and let me know that they would be bringing
me something to eat when they were finished with the meal. Well,
why didn’t they just TELL ME they were going to bring me some
eats? After that, I laid down in the back seat awaiting my delicious
treat that would be on its way.

Later that evening, they built a campfire which smoldered a bit
at first due to the wood being damp. After a while, the flames began
to crackle across the dried kiln and there was a toasty fire glowing in
the darkness of the night. They toasted some marshmallows skewed
on tree twigs over the flames and I tried one, but it was really hot
and sticky. I much prefer the uncooked version! Other campers had
fire pits snap-crackle-popping while the crickets created a cadence
of sounds that went along with the soft sound of the waves lapping
at the shoreline below. Since it was a moonless night, the orangey-yellow
light from the campsites brought warmth to the chill in the air.
Have you ever just looked into the flames, their colors ranging from
yellow to orange to red to purple to blue – as if it were a of rainbow
of sorts? Observing the burning piles of dried wood seems to be the
most mesmerizing experience I have ever had in my life. It seems to
take you either deep within yourself or very much out of yourself. But
wherever that cosmic place of serenity is, the flames seem to ignite
that knowing place in your soul.

taughannockpark

Chapter 13: Swimming, Boating and Walking with the Pack (excerpt from Chert Dog)

“My Father’s Greatest Gift:  Life Lessons from a Black English Labrador Retriever”

My Father’s Greatest Gift

My extent of boating experiences has been sitting in the
middle of the canoe as we take our time circling around the small
lake. I have also sat on the back of the two-seated paddle-boat, but
find this not quite as comfortable. Even though I have not gone out
on the small sailboat, I have been on the front of the one-man yellow
kayak, which I have found to be the most comfortable ride on the
water by far. I can lie down and rest my head and even take a nap
and let Chris do all of the work. I find all of these experiences very
restful and rejuvenating at the same time.

The family has quite a collection of boats in their fleet which
are lined-up on the tiny-pebble shoreline. The nieces and nephews
and their friends have such fun swimming, swinging over the water
from a rope attached to a shapely willow tree called “The Lady of the
Lake,” playing on the floating dock, doing a little fishing or taking the
boats out for a spin. There is always much activity when everyone is
at the cottage. Sometimes, I take a nap on the shaded slope up away
from all of the activity. I find the fresh air and scent from the wild
vegetation surrounding the area to be very intoxicating and soothing
to the soul.

nutmegandchertboating

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