What you've been waiting for: Your chance to become a major philanthropist

Roo K. Beker and I have a Patreon campaign up and running. it's a web site to support the old-fashioned idea of patronage of the arts—a way to support writers, artists and any other type of individual who spends all day trying to get unpaid work done while collection agencies ring the phone off the hook and banks threaten lawsuits and hungry dogs stare blankly into space.

There's a full description of how it works at the bottom of this blog post. We'd really, truly appreciate it if you'd sign up. You decide how much, starting at only $1. 


And a good time was had by one

I was uploading a video of Roo doing the job of Hat Carrier, but hit my data cap during the upload. If it gets up there, I'll replace this with that....

I was uploading a video of Roo doing the job of Hat Carrier, but hit my data cap during the upload. If it gets up there, I'll replace this with that....

Hi, Everybody:

Eighteen degrees, a 12-mile-per-hour wind, and a couple of inches of snow. I spent all night freezing, but you could tell from the way Roo was lolling around and on the bed and smiling and rolling over to lie on her back and batting at me that, as far as she was concerned, with things, at about 50 degrees inside, were finally starting to go her way. 

Junior has reinstituted her moratorium on nighttime pees. Holding it in for the 15 hours from just before the end of civil twilight until her morning awakening doesn’t seem to bother her. I worry about her peeing even though she doesn’t. In fact, even when she humors me and does consent to step outside at night, she rarely departs with more than a small honorary trickle before trotting back to the door to come inside and claim her traditional reward, which is a slice of salami. I make her nibble it out of my hand instead of just handing the whole thing for her to swallow like the chowhound she is. This spate of not going out at night began before the few and distant New Years fireworks someone blew off, quite moderately on a farm a few miles away, so it wasn’t that. But that didn’t help. 

If snow happens to fall overnight, it means a surprise for her in the morning. Not that if she knew about it she would get out ofbed before nine, anyway, before which time she does not slink out of the narrow passage to her bed and stand in the minuscule open space here and give me a look and a big smile and a slow wag. A slow wag is all she can manage at that point, not just because she’s still groggy but also because her tail is not warmed up for more yet.  She lines herself up and moves her paws outboard in preparation for a good shake. If the light is angled right on her, you can see an entire galaxy of dust and hair fly off and start to float around as if gravitating towards some distant black hole. Next comes her round of stretches. Not too long ago, she added a grunt to the one where she arches her back and raises her head to stretch her frontal neck muscles, the ones guarding the gullet down which she has been dreaming of stuffing mouses and jackrabbits all night. This grunt is strictly for my benefit, because she only does it if she’s caught my eye. Then she wags a couple of times and points her nose at the door to instruct me that she is ready to address the crowd of commoners that might be waiting for her to address them from her balcony, which is ready-made for her at the height the camper is off the ground when I open the door and she stands there.

If we’re not in the middle of an Arctic blast, I don’t hurry her out. She likes to stand there for about 20 seconds to make sure the many enemies she is sure she has are not lying in wait for her. First, she moves one side of her head to get one eye peeking around the corner. Then she elongates her recently stretched neck. Though this incurs the risk of moving her head overboard, it is still in a position to be retracted in case a meteor is hurtling at her or someone is waiting to ambush her by pointing a flashlight at her. No surprises have ever awaited her since I adopted her, but enough must have before that she doesn’t see the point of taking the chance. Roo is a dog of many peculiarities, and they are on display all day, every day. Most of them are cute and fun, much like Flipper the dolphin would have been if she wasn’t actually a tragic and depressed captive. With others, though, Roo can be as annoying as any dog.

Nonetheless, my love for Roo and respect for her skittishness aside, when the temperatures are as low as they are now, and opening the door means instantly dropping the interior temperature by 30 degrees that it will take 20 minutes to recover, I tell her to “Move, it, Rooki!” And, if that doesn’t work, I might even assist with a little shove.

But with the surprise snow on the ground this morning, she raised her head and perked her ears up and hopped right out. I closed the door behind her and watched from the little window. She greeted her unexpected bonanza with a few play dips and by plowing her nose under the surface. She bounded up and down in circles like a wild young pony a few times, and then then lay down in it to roll around in it and fully appreciate the luxury. It was a good morning for Roo.

*                              *                              *

Another pitch for the Patreon campaign:

If any of you are considering getting on board the Patreon campaign, please do. Patreon is a web site where writers, artists, researchers—anyone who does something that no matter how hard they work, no matter how many thousands of words they write per day, no matter how many people visit their blog, no matter how exhausted they are rendered by being a cripple in charge of the care, feeding and lunacy of Not an Easy Dog™ — muster the support of anyone who'd like to be even a small a part of keeping it going. In this case, the writing I need to do to survive as well as this blog. A $200 yearly charge is coming up. Uploading the hat video at the top shot me over the data limit on the cell phone. I'm sure you're sick of everyone asking you to cough up all the time, but the truth is that without the goodwill of its readers, a blog like this can't survive. 

You control how much support you’re giving, starting with one flat buck. Say you chip in a buck, then that’ll mean that you’re charged a buck when something is published. Not when anything is published, because there won't be one for a little picture or some short blurb. And you set your monthly limit, so if you want to keep it at a buck, then you’re never charged more than one. If you’re rolling in dough, ship some over by leaving it on for all posts. It’s up to you.

No rewards like on Kickstarter, but what you do get is access to the newly partitioned-off portion of this web site which is, from today onwards, for patrons only. Some of you have seen it already. I called it Mein Camp. I’ve added a sub-title to that: Notes from the Handbasket. I will be taking the chance on publishing deeply personal stuff there.

I have to make the page private for a variety of reasons, the main one being that I need some privacy and am not willing to share everything with everyone. You guys, yes. Some of the people I meet out in the world, no. The stuff I post there is not going to be the Roo-centric stuff. It’s going to be mostly non-dog, personal stuff. A lot of it will be about a personal struggle that's getting to be impossible by trying to stay in this insane line of work. I’ll explain more there.

Patreon is a major web site with the same credit card security as any other commerce site. Sign up is fast and it'll get the link to the hidden blog page emailed to you as soon as anything new is posted. I’m getting ready to post a lot of new stuff there within a few days, so now’s the time. If you were thinking about it but haven’t signed up, click on over now. I'm a bit worried about how personal the stuff is, but I guess that's all I have to offer. A near-death experience after getting killed in the Himalaya. Being targeted for murder by a jovial KGB agent. 

That’s it for now from the frozen east Oklahoma tundra. Roo is lobbying for me to let her run around in the snow again. It’s freezing out there, and she hates to miss any chance to kill me. I have no more doubt than she does that she will eventually succeed. I’m not kidding. 

About any of it.

P.S.:     I’m also scrambling to finish a short book titled June Bug and the Flyer, the story about what the Wright brothers so sadly did wrong after their magnificent accomplishment of inventing the airplane. I know most of you are here for the dog stuff, but it's a pretty good yarn and this is a heads-up in the hope that you’ll all download that when it's ready. Also, to start talking you into please reviewing it on Amazon. No sales without reviews, is how it works. In the meantime, signing up for the Patreon campaign is the way you can help that book, another about Soviet espionage in my family and a memoir that is so painful to write that it will take a long time. I hate to be soliciting like this, but that's how things work these days. The job I do is as hard as any other and is done out of obsession and not being able to do anything else. 

By the way, speaking of Amazon reviews, if you read the Roo book and never reviewed that, well, then it sounds like you could stand to getcha some review-writing practice. It's just shy of 500 reviews, so.... And if you haven't read it but you like reading about Roo, download the e-book or order the paperback. It's the story of how Roo came to me, the awful shape she was in and how she began to heal. It'll set you back a buck-ninety-nine.




Today's stray: Never a "Little Shit" Again

If you were on Facebook earlier today, you saw that Roo and I picked up yet another stray dog.

I had no intention of winding up in Mississippi, but that’s where the current blast of arctic air blew us, and we overnighted in Fulton. This morning, the temperature had risen from an overnight low of about 20 degrees to 28, and Roo and I were talking a walk. A little dog was barking at us from the vicinity of the only other camper, and we avoided the area. Later, though, on the way back, a little black and tan dog ran up to us and began to follow us. She wasn’t wearing a collar, but she was friendly and in good shape. I said hi to her and Roo, who doesn’t spend much time on smaller dogs (in her opinion they are too small to be dogs and as dogs aren’t mouses, so what’s the point), gave her one brief sniff. The little dog began to follow us.

There was only one other camper around, so, after the little girl followed us halfway back to where we were camped, several hundred feet away, we doubled back to get her to go where it seemed she lived.

Outside the camper was a man with a white beard and a Trump bumper sticker on his old Ford pickup.

“Good morning,” I called to him from a small way off. I never walk up to anyone in the woods, because in America a lot of people live for the hope of getting to pull out their .357 and have a chance to stand their ground one day. But the guy was friendly.

I asked him if the dog was his.

“No, she ain’t mine,” he said. “Camp dog.” Pronounced doag.

“Belongs to the camp? Lives here?” I asked.

“I guess. She been here the coupla days we been here.”

“I wonder where she sleeps.”

“Right yonder in them leaves,” he said. “Gets herself weaseled right down in ‘em.” The ground was covered in wet leaves. A freezing rain had been falling.

I wanted to ask him just why it might have been that he wouldn’t let a freezing, good-natured little dog in his 40-foot motorhome with twin furnaces and a satellite dish, but I didn’t. What was the point. All I said was, “So, she isn’t with anyone, then.”

“No, just a camp dog. Smart little shit, too. Threw out a paper plate still had a piece of hot dog on it last night, and damn if the little shit didn’t bring it right back over to the door. Just like that.”

She was on the squirrelly side, and the Flexi I had for Roo wouldn’t loop securely on her little neck, so Junior and I went back yet again to get another leash and a rope slip collar I keep in the car for strays and some food and then back again to get her. 

I tossed the kibble on the ground with one hand and held on to Roo withe the other. This was necessary because Roo does not believe that any other dog on Earth should ever be allowed to eat anything that she might one day wish to eat herself. Part of growing up in the Depression, I think. The little dog was starving. She skittered around vacuuming up the kibble. I called her over and she came and let me slip the collar on. She resisted walking a little, but only the way a dog who might never have had a leash on does, but all it took was a piece of cookie to lure her with, and we made it back to the camper. As soon as we stopped, I noticed that she was trembling badly. I got her inside where it was warm, but it didn’t do any good. She trembled for the next hour.

That was when the post went up on Facebook to see if anyone could help locate a way to deal with a stray in this part of rural Mississippi. Several people responded. 

A local shelter was closed for the day, but it seemed to be more of a pound anyway, and obviously I wasn’t going to dump her anyplace that might have had a shot of Fatal Plus waiting for her. There was a Humane Society shelter in a town 25 miles south of here called Amory, but when I called, they said they wouldn’t take her and that I should call animal control here in Fulton and let them deal with her. I said I couldn’t do that. Well, they said, there really wasn’t anything they could do. 

Now, this was a truly sweet little girl. Friendly and well-mannered. Deeply expressive eyes that seemed to go from hopeful and happy to be fed and warming up and around others, to worried and remembering her hard luck. She looked like she expected to be put out at any moment. 

The Amory shelter called back. As I would see for myself later, the staff there is a bunch of pushovers, real soft-touches, when it comes to down-and-out animals. Whoever answered the phone earlier didn’t like turning any dog away, so she talked to the director, who in turn called back to say, aw, just bring her in. She would be safe, not killed. She would be vetted and put up for adoption and if that didn’t work out, be transported as far as Ohio or Virginia.

In the car I wrapped her up in a towel, but she kept trembling. Man, how I hate to see a dog tremble. It always reminds me of how Roo was when I got her.

The shelter in Amory turned out to be a terrific place for homeless dogs. The staff, headed by the director Misty Tucker, loves their charges. Misty has seen the shelter through a lot of impressive improvements, the best of which is a huge fenced yard where all the dogs get to run around together like maniacs. They weren’t when we were there only because it was too cold and when the dogs are out they need to be supervised by trustees from the local jail, and they weren’t getting let out today, but normally the gates to the kennels are open and everybody parties.

They named the title girl Trolley (“Something different,” the woman who carried her off in her arms said), and gave her her shots and in she went to the kennel where they’d keep an eye on her for a little while before letting her into the general population. Misty took me on a tour. The terrible mood I was in (it happens to me every time I pick up a stray or see one on the street who I can’t get or any time I go to a shelter) reversed in the company of such kind and devoted animal lovers. The Amory crew were really doing a good job. These homeless dogs and cats were getting fine treatment.

By the way, if anybody is looking for a great dog, they have a few in stock at Amory right now. There’s a beautiful, friendly young German shepherd. A stunningly handsome and gentle young Labrador boy. Several mutts. A cattle dog, some hounds. There’s one girl who they are trying to raise the $300-800 it’s going to take to treat her heartworm. It’s always heartbreaking at shelters the way every dog wants your attention, wants you to open the cage, tries to let you know that they will be your friend. I talked to them all, but couldn’t hang around too much. Truthfully, I just can’t stand it. 

The one who got to me was a middle-aged girl who was curled up facing the other way. She looked depressed. She was the only dog too deflated to participate. She would have been the first one I would have sprung if Roo and I lived somewhere.

Anyway… Trolley is at Amory Humane now. She’s a sweet and good dog without any hint of aggression whatsoever. She’s cute and fun and she must be quite the tough little cookie. She has a few scabbed-over bite wounds, but nothing that shows or that’s infected. No chip, of course. She is going to make a fine companion. I’m not advertising her that way just because we found her. She’s really special, and I mean it.

And she’s available. Transport just might be able to be worked out. 

The Amory Shelter's phone number is (662) 256-7566.

Back on the Run

Things got a bit difficult there for a while. Everything broke. The generator, the truck, various things on the camper. Repairs started to take up all my time. I hoped to move us to the Northeast, but that didn't work. We made it up to Maine, where we've been wearing out the welcome mat in the driveway of our friends Jim, Virginia and Henry. Now, we are forced to leave. It's just getting too cold. Things are frozen.

I am not pleased about having to leave the Northeast, but so it must be. And so it is. We will be back on the road starting tomorrow. 

On the run, is more like it. I was hoping that once the trip was finished, it wold be finished. I have a book to write about it, and writing it while on the road is impossible. But there's no choice at the moment.

As for this blog. I would have liked to keep it up over the past months, but it wasn't possible. Being constantly on the move and camping every single night for more than a year left little time, and what time there was I used for writing that I hope might pay. 

A web site named Patreon might be the answer. It's a way for people who do stuff like that—writers, musicians, bloggers, video makers, whatever—to hook up with (they call them) Patreons Patreons are people like, hopefully, you, who are willing to chip in a few bucks to encourage and support someone's work. 

I'm posting this in a little bit of a hurry because I will only have intermittent internet after today. So, though the Patreon campaign is launched, it'll change and get better, if there's any response to it. What I expect to do is something along the lines of setting up a part of this site for Patreon supporters and then email you the link. Or, something like that. Trust me, I'll figure it out. I'd like to get back to this work and for those of you who have been asking for a way to help make that happen, this is it. Well, FedEx envelopes of cash would have been fine, too.

Here's the link to the Patreon page, and thanks.




Today is Roo K. Beker's Fifth Birthday

Today is my little girl Roo's fifth birthday. She is still as much of a puppy as she was when she came out of the high kill shelter in Los Angeles. She's a happier and way less frightened dog. Every day I'm more impressed with her courage and big heart.

This was a couple of weeks ago. We were stuck in the snow and up on a mountain with fallen trees blocking our way out.

I told Roo that was her birthday, because no present could have made her happier. 

Happy birthday, Rooki. I love you, Little Bear.