The Roo Controversy

Hi, Everybody - 

I received some angry messages about the video of Roo up on the ledge. One particularly outraged person pointed out how the trend that began when Roo jumped off a cliff could only end by my publishing a snuff video so that I could really cash in.

  1. The more time Roo gets to spend off a leash in complicated terrain, the better. Yes, she might get dinged up from time to time. I never knew a dog who lived a life worth living who didn’t. I wouldn’t let her get close to anything man-made that could hurt her, like traffic, my fear of which has her dangling at the end of a leash much more than I like. Nor would I let her near any natural hazard, like riptides, wildcats, snakes, bears or otters, for that matter. When it comes to negotiating terrain, however, I’ll leave it to her. I don’t believe for a second that an arthritic 54-year-old who has had both legs crushed to powder, one arm snapped like the skimpy twig it is, multiple surgeries on one shoulder, countless dislocations of the other, some knocks on the head hard enough to leave static sounding on some of my stations for years, a face full of the scars, broken teeth and bent nose common to fools, that a hobbling, solitary crank filled with too many bits of surgical stainless to count, who was partially paralyzed for two years, who knows what it is to wake up in a hospital bed to a visiting team of orderlies from a cancer ward just stopping by to observe what someone in really bad shape looks like, has the first single thing to tell one of the great born athletes, as all our dogs are and for which they should be looked up to, not screamed at, anything about how to scramble on rocks or run and jump or gauge the feeling of shifting sand between her toes. My deal with Rooki is I won’t tell her how to do any of that, and she won’t critique my impassioned run-on sentences. She’s better at handling gravity gracefully than I ever was. I hope I can always avoid projecting my human fears on her and not aggravate any risky situation with hysteria. In the meantime, Roo’s joy at being allowed to run free and climb high isn’t something I’m interested in limiting any more than necessary.
  2. Roo is getting stronger and happier every day. That doesn’t come from having someone freak out at her or jerk her by a leash every time she pokes her nose someplace. To those who ask why I didn’t put the camera down and stand there and yell at her to come down, I ask in reply, why would you?
  3. Please don’t send instructions about what to remove from my web site. Anyone who thinks I’m disgraceful for risking Roo’s life for fun and profit is entitled to their opinions and their ‘Nam flashbacks. The entire web site is a labor of love. I’m sorry you think I’m ignominiously risking Roo’s life. The millions in blog income, however, are impossible to resist.

Roo is a hard-luck puppy, and part of that luck is that she did not get the perfect parent. She got me. Lots of things could be better for her, and no one knows that better than I do. But one thing that is about as good as it gets for her is that Roo gets to find out who Roo is and be the dog she might not even have been able to dream about before, a lot. It means some daredeviltry, and my hat’s off to her for it. It means being free in a world where she might get to forget being imprisoned, starved and scared.