Tag Archives: dogs

Players, Personality and Major Fuego for the Game

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“Hey, Fuego fans, let’s pass the hat for Matt Patrone’s home run,” the PA announcer says amid cheers. I’m certain Patrone’s blast here in Fort Marcy Ballpark, a Pecos League venue, would have been at least a ground rule double in about any major league park (a place no fan passes a hat for home runs after paying what he did to get into the park).

The next hitter lines a pitch out of play toward the parking lot behind the dugout. Hard hitters, these Santa Fe Fuegos.

“That foul ball is brought to you by Discount Glass and Glazing. Just mention Fuego baseball and get a discount on your next purchase.” I love it. This place has personality.

The woman in charge of collecting money for tickets wanders over to me from her top row seat. She’s right on time. We’d made a deal if I liked the place I chose to sit with my dog, Rusty, after two trial innings, she’d only charge $3. Dogs aren’t allowed in the $6 seats behind home plate. Either way, what bargains. I’m glad the Fuegos are in an independent pro baseball league, not even a minors system affiliated with a team in the majors. Think I’d be able to bring my beach chair, let alone dog, into their ballparks?

Sitting behind the Trinidad Triggers dugout, Rusty and I notice a Trigger player come our way. On his walk to the park’s all purpose port-a-potty, he stops to pet Rusty. He even lets me take pictures of the two together. On his return trip to the dugout, he gives Rusty some more love, saying that with so much time on the road, he misses his dogs back home terribly.

Strangely, however, the Trigger player doesn’t go into the dugout, but sits on top of it. In fact, neither the Triggers nor Fuego players sit in their dugouts – they sit around the dugouts.  It must be a Pecos League tradition. Again, what personality.

Out of nowhere, a pop foul comes my way and I catch it! – something I’ve never done in all my years attending crowded major league and AAA games. I feel special, like a kid again. I’d like to think that’s what baseball should be, a special connection directly from pitcher to batter to fan. To continue the link, I give my cherished first ball to a two-year-old who’s apparently already caught baseball fever.

Where else do you bring your own lawn chair to a professional baseball game? Negotiate a price and place to sit with your dog? Have more fun, pay less and see a competitive sporting event?  Switch gears from watching the game on the field to playing catch with a kid and then going back to the game. See players perform for practically nothing just for the love of the game?

Where else is there a meeting on the field of every team member in the bottom of the fifth inning for team unity, spirit and awareness of what this is all about?  Where else is there a pro sporting event where the majority of fans leave their cell phone behind? Fuego baseball is where.

It’s life in the moment for fans and particularly the impressionable young men playing. It’s a spirited, fast game. You have to watch closely. There are no scoreboard replays, let alone bathrooms every fifty feet.

I love the game just the way it is. I’m sorry the season is over. I’ll be back for 2016, connecting this season’s joy with the next.Feugo 006

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Remember This? “Lassie” TV (and cuddly collie obedience vs. indifference)

Lassie was a staple for millions of television viewers from the days of black and white sets in the fifties to the fancy color consoles of the seventies. Perhaps what I appreciated most about this nostalgic boy-and-his-dog adventure show was the rural life presented with such carefree access to fishing, camping, wildlife and outdoor recreation, activities I still appreciate today. They’re all elements in this early Lassie episode you are about to see entitled “The Bear” in which young Jeff, old Gramps, and trusty Lassie head out to the country for the weekend.

I have a dog, too –  a rough collie mix named Rusty. More than a wonderful companion, Rusty provides laughter. He’ll never be as obedient as Lassie (“Rusty, come back in here!”), smart (“If you wouldn’t wander off, you wouldn’t need a leash”), energetic or outdoorsy (“There are other places to be than the couch, Rusty”), but he’s my Laddie.

During each step of this Lassie episode, enjoy Rusty’s colorful take on what he’d do in each situation.


Lassie helps Jeff dig the campfire ring.
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Jeff shows Lassie how to set up camp.
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In control whenever in nature, Lassie leads Jeff to a fishing stream.
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“That trout sure tasted good. And you were so good, Lassie, not begging at all.”
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“Gramps hurts his back, Lassie. Come quick!”
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“I better get help. You stay right here with Gramps, Lassie.”
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Lassie hears a bear and wakes Gramps from a nap.
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The bear enters the camp. “Stay back, Lassie! Good dog – stay right there.”
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Lassie fights the bear!
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“Lassie, you must be hurt, girl. Are you all right?”
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Later, lassie catches a fish.
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(Oh, yeah, Timmy eventually replaced Jeff on the show after three seasons, and there were a million Jeff-Timmy parents throughout the years. I, however, hope to remain Rusty’s obedient master forever.)

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The Unfathomable Lightness of Fur

Doggie FIRST DAY PICTURES 012WebStory1I’m waiting in the “dog adoptee” holding room. I hope I’m doing the right thing. He looks so happy. But what if I adopt him and it doesn’t work out between us? Still, look at that smile. But what if staff comes blasting in with a file showing I’m on some subversive dog-hater’s list. Oh, come on. That’s not gonna happen, that’s not gonna … “Mike?” the shelter assistant says while opening the door. “Congratulations. Here’s just a little paperwork we need to go over and then he’s yours. He looks so happy.”
Doggie FIRST DAY PICTURES 015EWebStory2Wow, he hopped right into the back seat and made himself at home. Whew, that’s good, ‘cuz he’ll never fit in the front seat. Oh, I gotta take this picture of him, the “first ride ever in the back seat” photo. It feels good to have someone in the car with me. It gets lonely driving in here all alone.
Rusty 1st Dale Ball hike 014WebStory3I’ve waited all week to get out on our first hike. Shit, he never stops, and what is he – eight – they said? What’s that look back at me, like “can’t you move a little faster?” Yeah, but look at that face. I don’t think he could ever look mean, could he? … Finally, we’re going downhill now. Oh this feels so good. How I’ve missed the exhilaration I get from exercise. And look at that face.

Rusty picutres at Cat 006WebStory4God, I thought I was tired. He completely collapsed on the dog bed. That old dog bed, Woody’s old dog bed. I thought I’d never get another dog after Woody. He was so good. I’ve spent almost two years in an empty house. But something told me now was the time. Curious, casually looking over hundreds of dogs the past two weeks, then – bingo.


Rusty picutres at Cat 011Cathy calls to say the photos I sent her are adorable and asks me what my new friend’s name is. I tell her he doesn’t have a name because he was found wandering the streets with no identification whatsoever. As I ramble on about what little back story I have on my dog-with-no- name, Cathy interrupts with, “Rusty. Why not name him Rusty? He looks rusty to me, you know, with all that brown.” From now on, I know his name will be Rusty. I like it. And it feels good to have my own sister give “Rusty” his name.

Rusty picutres at Cat 013WebStory5I take him to work today. Everyone – everyone – treats him so great, so special. I feel special. A co-worker says I look happier since I got Rusty. “Come on. Really?” I ask. “No, really,” she says. “You have.”
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Rusty’s trying out the new bed. He looks … as if … he’s in bliss. How lucky he is. How lucky I am. After all, it was my boss who bought the bed for Rusty. Generosity of friends. Love of creatures. We’re both lucky, me and Rusty, and seemingly all who meet him.


Doggie FIRST DAY PICTURES 018WebStory7It’s difficult for me to keep still sitting here. I usually hate having pictures taken. I usually don’t smile that much. The trail isn’t as remarkable when I hike it alone. But, okay, it’s done, it’s taken, let’s go, Rusty. Let’s go! Let’s go!


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Single Guys With Dogs (who’ve never had a family of their own)

Quote of the day: Blest be the tie that binds. — Fawcett


All my life, I’ve seen the father-son bond, the adult-infant connection, from afar. Never having married, I’ve envied the man who’s experienced what it’s like to be a father.

When I was 44, I got my dog, Woody, from the shelter. He was only a year and a half old.

Because Woody has always been well, I’ve enjoyed the perks of being a dog owner. But when man’s best friend suddenly gets sick, (and perhaps it isn’t until he does), that’s when you feel like a parent.

Two years ago, Woody suffered his first major health scare – a sudden attack of vestibular disease, a middle ear disorder. His eyes shifted back and forth uncontrollably, causing him disorientation and constant wobbling. All I knew at the time was that he looked like he was dying.

That night, Woody wouldn’t rest. He was panicked, hyper, trying to stand without success. I wished peace for him, that he might find comfort. The hours seemed like days. Then I realized how fatigued I was and wished for some rest of my own – all part of pet responsibility.

I took him to the vet first thing in the morning. She diagnosed him with the vestibular problem, gave him shots and fluids, a tranquilizer as well. It was all about Woody and the doctors. I felt helpless having little more to do.

Sedated, Woody needed to be carried from the vet’s office to my car. After all these years, I suddenly realized I had never done this before! Trying to carry my fifty pound friend on my own, I was afraid I was doing it wrong, or was hurting him, so I asked the attendant to help me. Sliding my arms under his front and back legs, I cradled Woody’s limp body up against my chest. Feeling his warm body against mine was a sensation I’d never had with him. I was carrying something in my arms that so needed me, and had for so long. This connection was primeval. It was good to feel part of humanity in a way I never had.

The next day, Woody was better, but still wobbly and groggy. As he teetered left and right, he was nonetheless able to right himself. But he needed me to help guide him along. I felt a little like a father walking his son for the first time, holding his toddler’s hands above him, letting him take his first baby steps.

As the day goes on, neighbors come to ask where Woody is, saying they’re concerned that he’s all right. I never knew they cared so much. I reassure them he is getting better by the hour.

Two days later, with Woody back to normal, I finally relax – I’ve got my family back.

Woody lived another two years as an active, happy dog. After passing away recently, what lived on was my eternal thanks to him for having given me my own sense of family and the joys one brings to all.

In the end, is there anything better than a pet?


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