Minister's Study

Ministering, writing, and wrestling in a land flowing with sweet tea and deep-fried food

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Taking in strays

From February 4th, 2005

My wife can really be a softy. She's the sort who's willing to take in and help out some poor, hapless stray. This is a good thing. Otherwise, I might not be married.

This tendency came into play last night, when some poor old part hound dog wandered up to our fence. He was clearly lost, thirsty, and friendly, so she let him in the yard to keep him from wandering onto the street, gave him a drink and some food, and let him spend the evening on our open porch. Naturally, we hoped that his owners would swiftly be along looking for him. Since this didn't happen, we called the local Animal Receiving Facility (about a mile and a half from us). But this is NYC. You can no longer actually call the facility just down the road from you. You have to call the city's 3-1-1 number, where someone transfers you to some central location to take down your information.

Once I got to the central information taker, he told me (I'd say "assured," but he didn't leave me feeling all that assured) that they'd get someone out to pick up the dog as soon as possible. When I asked him what "soon" might mean, he tried to be vague, but ended up saying this afternoon. Midway through the afternoon, when no one had shown up for the dog, we called again. "Oh, they close at 6PM, and they're out doing their pickups now. They should definitely be there before 6." At about 6:02, we call again, because, strangely enough, the dog was still out there. "Oh, we just didn't get to you today. Too busy. Too many calls." Keep in mind that we only live a mile and a half from the facility, and we've told them that the dog is both friendly and enclosed. Then they tell us that they can't even promise to get anybody to come tomorrow. With every call, they kept trying to get us to bring the dog in ourselves. That would be nice, if we actually had a car. But like many New Yorkers, we rely on mass transit and our feet to get around (research shows, by the way, that urban dwellers tend to be in better shape than rural dwellers because they walk more and drive less.) Now, I would walk the dog down there. But the dog is old. And the dog is part Basset hound or some such. This means that the old guy's legs are about an inch and a half long. He doesn't walk. He waddles. He moves rather like a four-legged centipede with arthritis. No way he's going a mile and a half.

Gotta love this situation. We can either keep the dog in our yard indefinitely, waiting upon the industry and good graces of a NYC beauracracy (sorry, let me take a moment as I wipe away the tears of bitter laughter), or turn the poor thing back out onto the street again, where he is at the mercy of NYC drivers (I can't even laugh about that, it's so sad.) So much for an "animal protection" agency.

On an ever-so-much more cheerful note, I finished Patrick O'Brian's novel The Letter of Marque today. This is the twelfth book in the series of Aubrey/Maturin historical sea novels (for those of you who don't read enough, this is the series that the movie Master and Commander was based on.) Absolutely terrific series, and it's taught me an awful lot about historical fiction in general, and naval matters in particular. Not to mention giving a completely different perspective on such historical events as the American Revolution and the War of 1812 (the books are written from the perspective of a British naval captain and his ship's doctor/intelligence agent). I might have to stop reading the series for a while, though (I think there are 19 or 20 books in all) just to get some other reading done. If so, this book seems like a good stopping point. For once, all the threads seem to be tied up. It seems as though O'Brian might have thought that this would be the last book in the series when he wrote it.

Speaking of New York beauracracies, I tried to get in touch with that friend in drug detox at the hospital. But privacy laws require that they not admit whether he is there or not. Or even if he was there and checked out. In essence, I can't speak to him or see him or find anything out about his condition unless he contacts me, even though I'm the closest thing to a pastor he has (but they promise to give him my name and number and tell him I called. Really. They do.) I hope he's in good enough shape to be able to contact me. He didn't sound too good the other night.

I started work on an article for an as-yet-indetermined travel magazine on our camping experience on Asateague Island. Fortunately, some of the photos from the trip came out pretty well, and good photos can get you a lot of mileage when selling magazine articles. I don't really have any text written yet; first I want to make sure what I've got for pics, and then I want to select my target mag and probably query them before I get far into the article. This way I can make the article specific to that mag. I'm trying to figure out if it's okay to query several mags with the same article concept, and if more than one accept it, write similar but slightly different articles for them. I'm thinking the pics might be a bigger problem, since each would probably want exclusive use of any pics they use. I'm still kinda new at this freelance magazine writing. But it seems like a much quicker way to make a living from writing than writing fiction. Not necessarily more fun or more fulfilliing, or even more long-run profitable, but definitely quicker.

It felt good to get out and run today, even with a heat index in the triple digits. First serious exercise I've taken since putting myself through that tournament last week (four matches the first day -- pretty tough). My shoulder hasn't really recovered, so I've been staying off the mat and out of the weight room, but the running sure felt good. Not that I like running. In fact, I hate running. But I love being in shape, and I'll put up with running to stay that way. Kinda like some people eat peas and brocolli to stay healthy. Of course, I have my limits. No peas and brocolli. But I will run.

Well, I'm going to try to post a few more pics up here from our family's vacation in Williamsburg and Chincoteague/Asateague sometime in the next few days. Won't be tonight, because it's getting rather late for my poor wife, and because my daughter (who serves as our alarm clock these days) has no snooze button or off switch.


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