“Freedom on Both Ends of the Leash” is now available autographed through us for $24.99 [$19.99 + $5 S&H, Continental 48 States] by clicking the above photo links. [PayPal accepting all cards]. It is also available through Amazon in soft cover or as an electronic download.
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“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.” ~ Milan Kundera ~
We are hovering in and around Gunnison, Colorado, as our book is now at the printer while us needing an Internet connection and a mailing address! I received the first couple copies and have given the final go ahead. I will post more details soon on how to order from this page autographed by the both of us if so desired. Also soon more information if wanting to order directly from Amazon as a soft cover. The electronic formats are going to take a little longer. In the meantime we have been riding Cottonwood Pass at 12,126 feet, visited Taylor Park Reservoir and of course again, Crested Butte!
Rightly so I have had a few Friends asking me if "Spirit’s rescue" is in our book. Sadly I had to say no. My editor has already, unconsciously I think as we often had the great pleasure knowing we were 1,500 miles away from each other, expressed another book will need to be written called "Everything I forgot to write in the first book"! Or was it my idea? I forget. Maybe just "Short Stories off the Leash".
Spirit is my third dog within these 65 years, almost 66 now. I write "my", yet I do not believe in owning a dog. Same as we do not own people. Dogs to me are my humans. Some might remember this quote "The more I love dogs, the less I like humans". Some! I feel the same with land. As insignificant as we are in this vast Universe, how can we ever proclaim we own such. It is more so a privilege acquired or sometimes given, loaned for the time being. For the sake of written convenience I will however continue calling him "my dog".
I think I was in my early, very early teens when we got a dog. I remember him or her being a Dachshund. I don’t recall its gender, this is all part of maturing and losing some cells from the memory folder. What I remember, is one day him/her biting me. Biting my right thumb. 50 or so more years later, as in right now, I am still looking at the scar. I think I tried to take away a toy he or she was playing with. Danny, which was his or her name and I have no clue why anyone would call their dog Danny, well, he or she did not last long in our household. My Father being a surgeon took care of my thumb, my Mother took care of the door closing in on Danny. Poor dog.
Years passed without a dog. Culinary School in Switzerland followed by $50 and a one way ticket from France to Philadelphia while hearing the sigh of my by then happy Father sending his son and only child thousands of miles away. Work and more work, there was no fairness in having a dog. Marriage, Son, Divorce, more work and still no dog. I ended up living on a sailboat which was also a passion of mine, the sailing that is, and a black Lab, Lady Tascha, showed up in my life. She of course was rescued from a shelter, had been there for a while, she had given birth to a litter of ten and no one wanted her. I did.
We passed some wonderful years together. That is when I could keep her out of the water. I originally just called her Tascha. I added "Lady" when I realized how much of a Lady she was and deserved the full title. I never had a leash for her. She was my shadow and the leash laws were also different at the time. She loved sailing. She loved sailing as much as Spirit loves riding. Since I worked, she stayed behind guarding the sailboat while in the different marinas we lived in. She jumped off throughout the day for her walks, she also was the dock-masters friend, it was the perfect life for the both of us. I remember while in one of the marinas we lived in, a Lady at the end of the dock having to leave early for work, often in the dark. It was the strangest thing as if Lady Tascha had a watch. She would get off the sailboat at the right time throughout the week, would go pick her up, walk her to her car and come back. The most amazing part, as yes, I wrote "throughout the week", she would know that she did not work on the weekend! We of course never figured that one out. Dogs are amazing.
Eventually age took her away. I miss her. I know all of us dog lovers miss our past buddies. More years went by. Lance passed away as I tried afterwards for a couple years to hang on to my business in Naples, Florida, without by then much success. I ended up in Georgia, north of Atlanta to be more exact, doing some consulting work, also without much success. I had rented a house on 16 acres and it came time once again to fill my life with a faithful companion. Lumpkin County had a shelter not too far from the house, about 20 minutes. I visited them a couple times, I was not looking for a particular breed, only awaiting the flicker that happens from those caged dogs. And one day, at the end of one of the buildings, on the right, amidst the constant barking of many awaiting their destiny, was this dog in a corner, all bundled up and quiet with his head between his legs. He looked up for a few seconds and then on put his head back down. Just for a brief, very brief moment. The spark between us had happened.
Poor Spirit… He was laying down.
I remember that second as if it was now. That look, that connection, that pleading as "please take me". That moment broke my heart and it was an instant decision. Things did not however go so well. The manager of the shelter did not want me to have him because he is a Pit Bull. I pleaded to no avail as she tried so hard to show me other dogs she thought I would be happier with. Little did she know. This was a Tuesday. I offered to come by once a day as a volunteer and walk him. Many others did as such. Poor Spirit was about ten pounds lighter than today, could barely walk. I felt as his soul had been trampled on. Small steps at the time he went without me forcing him. There was hardly any eye contact, just a dog scarcely on his feet. The week went by, the manager’s opinion did not change. Nothing I could say would change her mind.
He was to be euthanized that coming Monday. On Friday mid morning I received a phone call from the shelter. It was the volunteer assistant manager. She asked me if I still wanted "this dog" I have been walking every day. I said "yes". She replied "If you want him, you need to come right now and get him, the manager is off today". I did not ask any further questions, I was there… Once arriving I did ask her why she was doing this and wasn’t she afraid to lose her job when the manager would find out? She had herself three rescued Pit Bulls and because her husband owned about 15 different restaurants, she was independently wealthy and no, she was not afraid to lose her job. When she asked me while filling up the paperwork what his name would be, the word "Spirit" came up without even me thinking.
A shelter normally will not divulge details of a dog’s past life. She however did with Spirit because it was important for me to know he had been abused with water. More exactly by shooting him with a hose attached to a fire hydrant and then on bringing him back by grabbing him from his neck. Over and over. He did not drink water in front of me for a long time. It took over a month for him to just come and lay down next to me and that is when he started to put his head under my arm for comfort always with a big sigh as he still does today. he wears goggles and a helmet, has ridden more miles than most, but, he is a softie with a heart of gold. You will know it if you ever meet him.
So that is how Spirit was rescued. Many have also asked me how long did it take me to train him to wear his goggles, helmet, jump in the sidecar and ride. I did not train him. He is a natural and I know he is always grateful for having been saved as I am grateful to him for having saved me.
Ara and Spirit