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Barry Crimmins

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The Adventures of Lu -- Outer Space Dog! Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Adventures of Lu -- Outer Space Dog

(Above) Ethical photo of liberated Lu. (Below) Lu (left) and Lettie lounging last week.

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Life has gotten pretty dramatic on the home front. California is burning to the ground. Much of the nation is suffering from a drought and calamity is even trying to unsettle life on a sleepy mountainside in upstate New York.

Yesterday started in fairly normal fashion. I watched the news while I read the news and typed some notes. I was aggravated by two-thirds of the multi-task, which meant the note-taking was leading to some promising ideas. I interrupted my work a number of times to deal with Lettie and Lu; feeding them, walking them in the rain, cleaning them up and then letting them out again and so on and so forth. The puppies have become very good at staying close to the house and come instantly when they're called. So since they stay away from the road that never has any traffic, I often leave them out to play with each other and sniff around the yard and adjoining forest. Sometime toward early mid-morning I'd just gone out, called them and saw they were in good stead. About two minutes later, I was back at the laptop when Lettie came to the door scratching and howling. I told her to calm down. She ignored my suggestion so I got up and opened the door. I petted Lettie and called Lu. From around the corner I heard an oddly muffled bark. Just then Lu staggered into sight, her head stuck in a plastic jar we use to bring kitchen waste to the compost heap.

I was overwhelmed by emotions: scared because she was definitely in trouble, annoyed because the jar shouldn't have been out there and amused because with the bubble on her head she looked like Lu, the Outer Space Dog!

A moral dilemma arose. Did I get a picture of this ridiculous catastrophe or did I begin the rescue operation without delay? Posterity lost out to compassion when I began assessing and remedying the situation with as much speed as the delicate operation would permit. I began by letting Lu know I was there and was going to help. She was staggering around like a bad movie drunk, making exaggerated swipes at her head that were causing her to lose her balance and fall jar-first to the ground. I was simultaneously laughing, freaking out and trying to think how to improvise some jaws of life.

First, I tried the obvious and attempted to pull the jar off her head. It was on so tight that it was amazing that she got in it. My guess is she pushed it up against a wall and then shoved her head in. No matter how she managed to create the predicament, there was no way to pull her out of it without risking serious injury or worse. The poor puppy was now really upset. I picked her up and carried her around as I developed a plan. Lettie, a bona fide member of the rescue team,  made sure she remained underfoot each step of the way. I managed not to drop Lu or stomp on Lettie as I assembled several cutting and puncturing devices. I started with a serrated, pointed kitchen knife. I used it to quickly but carefully punch some air holes in Lu's plastic prison, that by this point had begun to fog up. With Lu's oxygen supply at least partially restored, I allowed myself a moment to give thanks that it wasn't a glass jar. Lettie, a hero up until recently, had made the transition to full blown hindrance. She was jumping on both rescuer and victim. I had no choice but to sequester her in her crate, where she continued to help by yelping and squealing advice throughout the duration of the operation.

The reintroduction of oxygen to her environment calmed Lu a bit. My next move was to cut off the entire end of the jar. This was a slow process since it involved a very wiggly puppy and a pointedly pointed object. After a small eternity, Lu's space helmet had become an Elizabethan collar. Her vision and oxygen fully restored, she figured she was back in action and became less cooperative. Her behavior couldn't have deteriorated at a worse moment because the most difficult part of the procedure had yet to commence.

I brought Lu over next to the coffee table, where I'd laid out the several implements of destruction as if they were surgical instruments. Placing her into a vice grip between my knees while patting and verbally reassuring and soothing her, I began trying and erring. Several tools and points of assault later, I used some wire cutters to slowly clip away at the jar's hard plastic collar that would have eventually strangled Lu, unless we chose to starve her instead. Carefully snipping first from this angle and then from that, I  cut down to the flimsier plastic that made up the bulk of the jar. I gingerly pulled on the container from each side of the cut and it tore enough to liberate Lu from her bondage.

Judging by her enthusiastic licks and kisses, I'm relatively certain that Lu and I are good for life. Thanks to her sister Lettie's cries for help, that life should be a long and healthy one.

Once all of this had transpired, I felt obliged to take the girls on another walk, feed them their lunch, play with them and generally celebrate our good fortune. By the time they were down for their afternoon nap, the muse who was up and well earlier in the morning, was snoring with the girls. I chose to let sleeping dogs lie and so this space was not updated yesterday. Today they're back to normal and the distractions they're creating seem less annoying than usual.
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updated: 11 years ago