Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Golden Years???

I wrote this poem when I was working as a secretary at St. Paul's Nursing Home.  We had a lady who had Alzheimer's Disease.  She was so attached to her doll, she would not leave it to go for lunch unless she had assigned "a sitter" to stay with her "baby" until she got back. A visitor told me it was a "depressing sight".  I, (as well as other staff members) thought it was beautiful though  tragically sad!  This poem was my rebuttal to that visitor's "depressing" assessment of the lady's plight.   

Daisy was a Lady - Once

Daisy was a lady
With poise and grace
And elegance and pride.
Her eyes were bright, her speech refined,
There was purpose in her stride.
Folks sought he counsel
For her words were wise
And her ideals were honourable.
All who knew her
Were proud to call her Friend.
They listened as she spoke
Their attention undivided,
For Daisy was a lady

We see her now
Just the shell
Of the Daisy we used to know.
Age has taken its toll,
But its that dreaded disease
That has ravaged her soul
And stripped her of that dignity
She worked so hard to maintain;
The respect that was hers alone;
That took a lifetime to build.
That flawless reputation
Carved by perseverance and determination,
Is all but a memory now,
In the minds of those who know
That Daisy was a lady

We barely recognize her face
So sullen, disinterested
Devoid of the bright smile of recognition;
Her eyes staring blankly into space
Avoiding contact with humanity
As if we were some alien race
To whom she has nothing to say.
She is oh, so different now
Her shoulders stoop
Her head hangs low
And her steps falter
As she shuffles aimlessly through the halls
Of the nursing home where she now resides.
Visitors pass her by
With pity in their eyes
For she remembers not
The people she held so dear
When Daisy was a lady.

She had a husband once
A loving family
Whose very existence was intertwined with hers
They laughed together in the good times
Cried together when things were bad;
They worked and played
And prayed together for the same goals.
Their aspirations rose and fell as one.
Now their visits seem so meaningless,
For Daisy does not know theyre there.
She knows not who they are,
Just another voice,
Another face in an endless abyss,
Another form in her wandering path,
A form from the distant past,
When Daisy was a lady.

Her children come
Now with families of their own
Their hearts bleed
And their eyes fill with unshed tears
To see this pathetic figure
Whos not the mother they once knew,
When Daisy was a lady.

But there is a part
They still recognize.
Daisy carries a doll now
She holds her close
Enfolding her to her bosom
Gazing at the doll with a love so profound
That time itself retracts its sequence
The children watch
And remember…….
When Daisy was a lady 

Friday, 27 January 2012

Who Said It Was Impossible

Who Said it Was Impossible

Who said it was impossible to feel comfort through deep pain?
Does a star light not through darkness?
Or the sun shine not through the rain?

Who said it was impossible to find smiles amid the tears?
We all have known some gladness
Over long unhappy years.

Who said it was impossible to find peace where none exists
To reach for truth, to find the root
Where harmony persists.

Who said it was impossible to stand up for the right?
To hold firm against a throng so strong
That you must fall or fight?

Who said it was impossible to reach the rainbow’s end?
Amid foes and woes and desperate lows
To find that one true friend.

Who said it was impossible from a vortex of distress
To find joy and peace and happiness
At the pinnacle of success.

Who said it was impossible to change a life gone wrong
To right a deed, reshow a seed
And watch is grow up strong.

So collect all those memories of each joy and pain you bore
Make them just your stepping stones
To peace, and love, and more!

Monday, 16 January 2012

A Jackrabbit as a Pet


"He'll never make it.  There is no way that little creature can live with those things sucking away at its very lifeblood."
John's words made sense.  We knew that.  But this was a baby bunny in front of us and it could be so appealing if only those grotesque creatures left him alone.  So in spite of our better judgement, we selfishly pleaded for life for the poor little fellow knowing full well that along with prolonging his life, we were also prolonging his agony.
Our experience with Jacky began tragically one summer day when Jim, at fourteen, caught the baby jackrabbit on a field of summerfallow he had been tilling.  From his high vantage point atop the big tractor, he had a panoramic view of the field below him and as he advanced, he saw the gray, bun-sized fur balls scattering in front of him.  One of those fur balls seemed to be having a more difficult time than the others so to avoid driving over him; Jim yanked the gearshift into neutral, jumped down from the cab and picked it up.  He put it in the cab until he finished the field and brought him home.
Look what I found,” Jim called excitedly, as he jumped out of the tractor cab and ran towards us with a tiny ball of gray fur in his cupped hands.
The girls ran to meet him.  Jim seldom showed that much excitement.  This had to be special!
What, what, what?”  they shrieked in unison.
Our curiosity turned to horror when we saw the source of his excitement.  A tiny little bunny, no bigger than a tennis ball, pitifully looked up at us from tiny slits of eyes almost totally obscured by heavy eyelids punctuated with the swollen bodies of woodticks!  In fact, its whole body, but particularly the head, and especially the ears, inside and out, was infested with the little brown balls clinging tenaciously to the scruffy skin covering the pathetic little frame.  Most of them were swollen to round bulbs from the amount of blood they had managed to steal from their helpless host.  It was a wonder the poor thing was still alive!
Uh, how awful!” with one voice we all agreed.  We inspected it further.  By this time, John had joined us and his decision was immediate.
You can’t be thinking of keeping that thing,” he said.  “It’s half dead.  It’s just a matter of time before it’s totally gone.  The kindest thing you can do for that creature is to kill it and put it out of its misery.”
But Jim and his two younger sisters entreated him.
Oh, no, Dad, please!  Can’t you do something for him?  Please, Dad.  You can’t kill it.  It’s just a baby.  Please Mom.”
Come on you kids.  Be reasonable.  Don’t you see how it’s suffering?  Those ticks are sucking the life out of the poor creature.  How can it survive without blood?”
John looked from one to the other of the kids hoping for reason to prevail, for sanity to take over.
Jim faltered.  He understood what his father was trying to say.  It made sense.  But he looked at the bunny and his heart melted.  How could he stand to watch it die?  The girls would not even listen to Dad’s wise counsel.  All they could see was a beautiful tiny bunny that desperately needed help.
Oh please, Dad, can’t you do something?  Mom, please, please.  You can’t just kill it.  You can’t!  Mom, can’t you do something?”
Don’t you kids see what you're asking?  There are so many ticks on it you can never remove them and even if you could, that poor thing could never survive that kind of torture.”
But the kids kept begging, pleading for a chance at life for the poor wretched, little creature whose very own mother had probably given up for dead.  Especially the girls.  They just could not understand why we would not try to save it. 
Finally against my better judgment, I decided to give it a try. 
Maybe we can at least try to get all those ticks off and see what happens,” I suggested to John.  “If it dies then at least we’ll know we tried.”
You’re crazy,” John stated flatly.  “There isn’t enough life left there to withstand such an ordeal.”
Bombarded by “Please Mom, oh please, Mom” from the two girls, I abdicated.  Jim stood by hopefully now not taking part in the discussion.  He was older and he knew Dad made sense except he still could not prepare himself to watch the bunny die either. 
Let's give it a try,” I said, but John would have no part of it.
You go ahead if you want, but count me out.” he declared and walked back toward the shed, leaving me with three hopeful looking kids and a less than appealing task before me.
Under the watchful eyes of the kids, I set about trying to rid the poor bunny of his unwelcome parasitic guests.  I had heard of woodticks, but had never known them to be common in our area and had certainly never seen anything as gross as this.  My knowledge of treatment for this situation therefore, was at best, pitifully meagre.  Still I had been told that a hot needle, applied to the body, would cause the blood sucking parasite to release its hold on its victim. 
Fighting back the rising nausea that was welling up within me, I got two long darning needles that I put on the stove to heat up, and a pair of long needle-nosed pliers with which to hold the hot needles.  With Jim holding the bunny motionless, we went to work.  Running back and forth to the stove as each needle cooled, I gingerly poked each disgusting bulb with the hot end.  With some it worked, with others, it didn't, either they would not, or maybe could not, back out, so for the stubborn ones, I just applied the pliers as close to the bunny’s skin and yanked until it came out, bunny skin, blood and all.  John had decided to come back to the house to watch the operation but at this point was having no part of it.  Finally when I could take the repulsive procedure no more, and ran retching for the bathroom, John relented and took over to finish the job.
Finding the remaining ticks relentlessly retaining their hold on the bunny's skin, and blood oozing out of the wounds where ticks had been yanked out, John was about to throw in the towel. 
It’s no use, he declared.  “These guys just won’t let go.”
But the kids had tasted hope by now and it seemed that success was too close to quit now.  The entreaties came fast and furious.
No, Dad, please.  You can’t stop now.  See, the bunny is still alive.  It’s just a few more.  Please Dad.” 
Sensing defeat in this battle against the three kids, John took the pliers and forcibly yanked the rest of the heinous moochers off, bringing out a spurt of precious blood following each such extraction.  With the final tick out, the bunny was still alive, albeit bleeding from each wound, lying limp in Jim's palm.  John walked out of the house.  He was loathe to admit it but he had been as repulsed by the gruesome task as I had been.
This left me in charge once again and as the kids stood by expectantly; I took the lethargic creature and swabbed its wounds with antiseptic from the family medicine cabinet.  Then to complete the job, I went outside and called to John, who was busying himself in the machine shed. 
Need your help for one more thing,” I called. 
Reluctantly he came back to the house to hear what I had to say.
Get the Hypodermic needle and we’ll give it a shot of Penicillin.”
John stared at me in disbelief.  We had a large hypodermic needle that we used to inject Penicillin into the cattle when there was an infection.  It was huge - twice as long as the poor bunny.  Seeing that I was serious, he shook his head and reached for the Penicillin.
How much do I give it?”
Give it half of a cc.” I said dispassionately.  I just wanted to get this over with.  I didn’t think it would work either, but now that we had started, we may as well do everything we could and then let nature do the rest.
John filled the needle and feeling like Dracula incarnated, I held the bunny motionless as John poked the miniature thigh with the large needle sending a small dose of penicillin into the tiny body.
There!  We had done what was humanly possible.  The rest was up to God Himself, if He wanted to restore the poor creature to life or take it to a much better place. 
Now take it to the cage,” I told Jim.  “That is all we can do for him.  We’ll just have to wait and see what happens now.”
I’ll get him a bowl of water,” offered Connie.
And I’ll get him some clover to feed on,” Carol shouted as she ran out towards the ditch.
I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the bunny would probably not be eating or drinking for some time yet - if ever.
Jim tenderly cupped the tiny bedraggled and very listless ball of scruffy fur in his hands and carried it out to the cage that we had used for a tame bunny the year before.  The girls brought the water and fresh clover and scattered it in the small enclosure but the bunny lay motionless where Jim laid him, sapped dry of effort and will.
The cage consisted of a mesh enclosed outer area as well as a little "rabbit house", lined with soft grass.  For the first couple of days, we never saw "Jacky".  He was hiding in his little house, probably too sick to move.  We considered giving him another injection of penicillin, but fearing that it might be too much, decided against it.  There was no local veterinarian and we had neither the time nor the money to go to Dauphin on what we considered a hopeless case anyway.  We would just let Nature take its course.  Each morning and after school, the kids would poke their hand into the cage to feel if the bunny was still living. 
It’s still warm, but it seems to be shaking so badly,” they told us worriedly.
Just give it time,” I said.  “It was very sick.”
So reassured by the warm body and the feeble tremors and breathing, they waited patiently for the bunny to make his move.  Daily they brought him fresh clover, lettuce, carrots and water but there never seemed to be any sign that any had been touched. 
Just about when the kids were ready to give up hope that he would pull through, Jacky emerged from his house on Saturday afternoon.  This sent the girls into a frenzy of excited squealing.
 "He's out, he's going to make it, he'll be okay".  We rushed to see and sure enough, there was Jacky, busily and peacefully munching on some of the fresh clover the girls had put in his cage.
From that day forward, Jacky continued to improve.  He was nervous if we came too close to the cage and would dart into his house for safety but as he learned that those giants around him brought food and water and never harmed him, he became less fearful and would sit outside in his "corral" eagerly awaiting the fresh greens that the girls always provided.  Every now and then, they would take him out of the cage to cuddle him, which he would reluctantly submit to, but he never seemed to enjoy it, no matter how long he stayed with us.
Bimbo, our family dog, quickly learned that this was indeed a treasured member of the family, like himself, and took to sitting guard over the cage peacefully watching the bunny.  At first, the sight of the dog would send Jacky scurrying for cover, but eventually because he was such a common sight, the bunny learned there was nothing to fear from this shaggy black mutt and he began to derive a kind of security from his presence. 
Other members of the "family" that had to adjust to Jacky's presence were Mitzy, the dappled gray mother cat, and Tommy, the striped orange tomcat.  This was perhaps the most difficult transition.  Both Mitzy and Tommy were good hunters and instinctively, they knew Jacky as a wild creature, a tasty dinner they were used to chasing, catching, and consuming.  Yet, here was one of their usual prey, protected from them by that mesh fence!  It didn't make sense to them at all.  They would prowl around the cage seeking an opening while poor Jacky cowered and trembled inside his little house.
Inevitably, one of us adults or kids would walk by, see them stalking, and give them a sound scolding, sending them away, feeling like they had committed a terrible crime.  It took a long time for these natural hunters to realize that although this was indeed a member of the wild species, it was, nonetheless, a protected and cherished member of this family.
To get them acquainted with each other, the kids would bring Jacky, Mitzy and Tommy into the house together.  By watching them closely, they were able to bridge a bond of tolerance, and eventually even friendship, between the three family pets.
The first few such encounters were hilarious.  Both cats knew enough not to attack Jacky outright in front of the kids.  But Mitzy was curious, and would approach Jacky hesitantly to sniff his nose.  Jacky would get up on his hunches, make low grunting, snorting noises deep within his throat and his front paws would go into a whir of boxing motions that no eye could follow.  Mitzy would jump back in surprise and alarm unable to understand this creature that just refused to accept her friendly gesture.  Or Tommy would try his luck at making friends and stealthily approach Jacky.  Jacky would wait until he was almost a touch away and then he'd use those long jackrabbit legs of his and leap lithely up and over Tommy to the other side.  Tommy would sit there, surprised, looking around and wondering where Jacky had disappeared.  
These games were so much fun to watch, the kids would often bring the threesome into the house just so we could sit and watch their comical antics as the three playmates cavorted around the house, chasing each other, leaping, slapping, boxing and just generally providing us with a great show.
The cats delighted in teasing Jacky.  They'd come near him and reach a paw to touch his nose which never failed to send Jacky into his boxing and grunting frenzy.  Even the kid's friends often would come to watch these shows.
"You ought to be charging admission," our friends laughed.
With these shows coming so often, the three performers became great pals, gleaning from each other a comradeship that mutually benefited each one.  Even outside, the cats would often play tag with Jacky through the mesh wire of the cage.  By then we were quite confident that they were only playing, that they would not seriously hurt Jacky.  I think Jacky knew it, too, because he never ran to hide anymore in his little house.
Jacky became quite tame as the summer progressed.  At first, the girls made a large corral out of chicken wire where they would let him loose to graze on his own as they sat nearby watching.  Then they would pick him up and transfer him to the cage for safety.  He got used to being picked up and let loose so that he no longer shied away when they approached.  He seemed to enjoy his freedom, but did not mind being penned in either.
As fall approached, we felt we should let him loose.
"It really is unkind to Jacky to be penned in like this," we explained to the kids.  "He is a wild creature and he is healthy now so he can take care of himself.  He should really be free."
"But he's happy here.  Why do we have to let him go?" the girls wailed.
"If he's happy, then he'll stick around.  But he should be free to choose.  You wouldn't want to live in a cage would you?"
Reluctantly, they agreed.  They took him out of the cage and set him free on the lawn as they had done so many times before.  He hopped around, munching on the green grass, twitching his funny little nose and looking up at the girls expecting to get picked up at any minute, but we all retreated to the house, leaving him alone as we watched through the window.  Mitzy joined him and they chased each other around in the now-familiar games.  
We left the cage doors open but did not put Jacky inside for the night, allowing him the freedom to do as he wished.  Next morning, the girls ran out to see where Jacky was.
"He's in the cage!" the girls burst through the kitchen door excitedly.  "The door of the cage is wide open and Jacky's inside." 
The kids were thrilled that Jacky had decided to stay out of his own free will.  He continued to go into the open cage whenever he wanted and he never left the yard as we had expected, but continued to graze on the familiar grasses and clovers on the grounds, not venturing far on his own.
When Mitzy produced her fall litter of kittens, Jacky put up with them like a doting godfather and as the kittens grew, the animal shows on our yard became even more interesting and captivating.  In the evenings, we need only switch on the yardlight and we'd see Jacky and his cat family frolicking in the spotlight.  It was as if they delighted in providing us with a good show.
I worried about my garden sometimes, fearing that Jacky would find my luscious carrots and cabbages and feast on them.  But he either never found them at all, or if he did, he may have thought they were too old and tough.  Whatever the reason, my garden remained untouched by his sharp teeth.
As the winter set in, Jacky stayed within the yard limits.  His now healthy fur coat turned to white and his long legs carried him in good stead as he darted in and around the more than a hundred head of cattle that always spent their winters in the yard.  He was left on his own most of the time, but he seemed content to stay nearby and join the cats for regular romps under the yardlight.  It was as if that piece of light in an otherwise dark night was an invitation to get in that extra added bonus of playtime out of each day because we would see him feeding or just hopping around peacefully by himself in the evenings when the light was not on.  Obviously playing with the cats was no fun in the dark.
The kids still put out lettuce and carrots for him and he would feast on them at his leisure but we also saw him feeding on the grain that spilled beside the grainery so after that we always made sure there was oats under the shed where he could eat in peace. 
We were told that he would strip our beautiful trees of their bark, leaving them to die, but we watched and he never damaged a single tree preferring, obviously, the ready-to-eat food that was always put out for him, like the grain, chop, and the vegetables with which the girls still enticed him on a regular basis. 
Spring came and Jacky was still around, though we expected him to leave, perhaps start a family, or something.  He remained around the yard for the following summer, providing us with many hours of pleasure as we watched the games that he and the cats played.  He wouldn't let the kids catch and cuddle him anymore, but he obviously still just wanted to live with us. He seemed to be content to just be around the family whom he knew and trusted.
He never attacked my garden that next summer either.  Somehow, it just seemed as if it was beyond his range.  He feasted on the lush green clovers and other grasses and was often seen cavorting with the cats on the yard.  He adopted more of Mitzy's kittens and enjoyed the company of Tommy and Bimbo.  Maybe he just never realized he was a rabbit - certainly not a wild one - living with people and cats and dogs. 
Jacky was almost three years old when his familiarity with cats became his Waterloo.  He never feared cats.  To him, they were playmates.  He probably never even made an effort to use those long legs of his for a quick getaway, expecting the unfamiliar neighbour's tomcat to be just playing with him.  That morning, we found the unwelcome strange feline feasting on the remains of Jacky.  John immediately went for the gun and blasted that tomcat out of this world but that did not bring our Jacky back.
It was truly a time of mourning in our house for the next few weeks as we realized that our wild little pet would no more frolic under the yardlight and provide us with those free performances.  But we remembered fondly all the happy times we had shared because Jacky had become a part of our lives for a while.  

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A Mutt Called Bimbo


From the moment he entered our house as a fat, roly-poly black bundle of supercharged energy, Bimbo started carving out a niche for himself within our hearts that was as deep and as permanent as the Grande Canyon itself.  He was one happy puppy.  If he missed his mother those first few days when he came to live with us in late May, you could not tell.  That little black stub that looked like a long pointed morel perched on the end of his thick haired, somewhat elongated round body would have quickly worn out a metal hinge had that been its tether.  It just never stopped wagging for a single second.  With eyes sparkling like huge diamonds from under that black mass of curls, looking at you with unconditional love, you couldn't help but adore him.  Even serious, sensible, Baba (as grandma was known by all), who took over for me around the house and with the kids while I worked out in the fields with my husband, was not immune to his charm.  Bimbo wooed her as fervently as he did everyone else.
"We'll call him Bingo", I had suggested when we first brought him home.
"Bimbo", echoed three-year old Carol.  Her tongue and her ears had not quite become synchronized yet so "Bimbo" was her version of "Bingo".  And so "Bimbo" joined our family.  
If his name were to have been taken literally, it would have been the biggest misnomer known to modern man, for Bimbo was as true as the world is round.  His devotion was unfailing, especially to the kids, for whom he would have gladly given his life had the need arisen.  He was our guard dog, our babysitter, our entertainer, our protector, our pet, our cattle dog, and whatever other responsibility we bestowed upon him.  He gladly accepted everything and all for the price of a little love. 
That first summer, the girls stayed close to the house, with directives from Baba, who found it easier to lay down iron clad rules than to chase rambunctious kids with orders and instructions.  Jim, being bigger was allowed to roam around the big yard with Bimbo waddling along at his side and Baba keeping a watchful eye on them through the window.  The two were inseparable.
Summer turned to fall and fall into winter and Bimbo grew much faster than the kids.  He converted his baby fat into surplus energy and spent countless hours playing with the kids in the deep soft snow.  By next spring, the kids were still kids, but Bimbo was fully grown.  Even though he was still a kid at heart, he was given more and more responsibility.  He welcomed the opportunity to be useful, and upon completion of a task would look up at us with those big bright eyes just sparkling with pride at his accomplishment. 
When it came to immunizing and branding the cattle that spring, he assisted us with penning the cattle and herding them into the chutes, but he got very upset if the cattle bellowed when the brand or a needle was applied.  He would stand there pleading with that whine that revealed his empathetic distress!  He seemed to have a natural instinct for herding duties or maybe he was just a fast learner.  Whatever it was, he was quickly becoming an asset to the farming operations. 
He particularly enjoyed the cattle drives to or from the far pasture, these coming during the spring and fall of the year.  He sensed the importance of the job and he raced around in circles, yelping excitedly, anxious to get on with it.  While we organized the details, Bimbo's eyes, glistened with anticipation and impatient to get going already.  Getting a hundred head of cattle out of the yard and on to the road was a wonderful and exciting game for Bimbo as he ran barking after each stray that kept getting behind a shed or a barn or some granary.  Mounted on Little Mite, I helped round them up and then rode behind the herd all the way to the pasture with Bimbo racing behind to keep the stragglers moving.  John went on ahead with the truck and a load of hay as enticement.  The older cattle had done this before and were easy to herd, but boisterous yearlings and older calves sometimes presented problems. 
After the drive, Bimbo would happily hop into the truck, and sit there panting proudly all the way home as if he had just done this very important job all by himself.  I think he loved the sense of accomplishment.  He loved riding in the truck and sometimes could be a real nuisance if his feet were muddy and he jumped in before he was invited (and wiped clean).
Each spring we bought a hundred chicks to be raised for meat for the following winter.  While the chicks were small, they were kept in a temporary pen near the house.  Jim was fascinated by the wee chicks.  He learned to open the gate and enter the pen.  Once inside the pen, he would try to catch the chicks, which would scatter in all directions, often resulting in some of them escaping from the pen through the gate that he had left open.  This not only upset the chicks inside but would necessitate rounding up the chicks that had escaped from the pen.
Time and again, Baba had instructed Jim.  "Stay away from the chicks.  Don't go near the pen"!  
Time and again Jim ignored the warnings.
With John and me out in the field, it was Baba who stayed home to take care of the kids and all the minor chores around the house.  She was not a young woman.  Chasing after small chicks was not only arduous work for her, it was also time consuming.  And it was definitely a chore that was NOT in her job description.
One day when Jim had sent the chicks scurrying all over the yard, again, Baba decided to chastise him with a couple of well placed slaps to his behind to add some punch to her orders.  As she held him to deliver the discipline, Jim's shrieks sent Bimbo into a frenzy.  He raced around barking and found it ineffective to stop the punishment.  In desperation, he gave a warning growl and grabbed Baba's long skirt with his teeth, tugging her back, growling menacingly until, taken off guard and alarmed by this suddenly savage attack from the angry dog, Baba let Jim go.  She never again dared to discipline Jim or the girls if Bimbo was nearby, no matter how much they deserved it.  
Jim and Bimbo wandered freely about the yard.  We had trained Jim to always answer when we called him.  (Until Jim went to school, we always called him by his Ukrainian name “Evaso” meaning “Johnny”).  At hearing his name called, Jim's voice would always come back "Hah", and we'd know where to find him.  If Jim was too far to hear, or was too distracted, Bimbo always heard and would bark, his keen sense of hearing always a dependable way of tracking their whereabouts.
One late summer day, John and I had been busily working on the yard, cleaning out granaries and getting ready for the impending harvest.  It was evening and we were concentrating on finishing our task so we failed to notice that Jim, who had been playing nearby, was no longer in sight.
I called for him but there was no answering "Hah".  I called again, louder.  Still no answer.  Concern changed to alarm and then panic as I yelled for all I was worth, listening intently for Bimbo's bark if not Jim's answer.  Still nothing.  There was a creek nearby and my mind envisioned terrible possibilities.  John had joined me by now and we called loudly alternating between "Evasu" and "Bimbo" as we frantically searched beyond the large yard.  It was obvious they were not within its limits.
Then, we heard Bimbo's bark, coming from somewhere out in the middle of the field of tall wheat beyond the shelter belt.  Heading for that bark, my heart pounding with renewed hope, we met Bimbo, who was leaping high with each step to see beyond the tall wheat as he ran towards us. 
"Evaso!  Go find Evaso", I told Bimbo and he took off, back into that wheat with John and me in hot pursuit.  Almost a quarter of a mile we followed Bimbo through that tall wheat before we found Jim, sitting peacefully amid the rows of tall grain, quietly stacking a bunch of pebbles into some imaginary fort.  We would have never found him without Bimbo.
Jim was seven the year we had our first problem rooster.  We used to let our chickens roam free on the yard then.  This rooster was a real cocky fellow and he was irrevocably convinced that he ruled the roost.  Any trespassers across his territory were always dealt with severely.  That is, he'd pick a fight with anyone that he felt he had a good chance of beating.  Jim was a prime target for this territorial self-appointed dictator.  He was small enough to tackle and best of all, he couldn’t fight back.
That is, Jim didn't fight back.  If Bimbo wasn't around to save Jim, the rooster would fly at Jim's neck, scratching him with his claws, pummelling him with his wings and pecking at his head with his beak.  This would set Jim screaming at the top of his lungs, bringing Bimbo and me flying to his rescue.  I'd pick that rooster off; give him a few sound kicks that sent him flying while Bimbo raced around barking furiously at the nasty villain.  Again I would admonish Jim to stay out of that section of the yard, again Jim would promise, and again he would forget after a couple of days.
One evening I was busy milking Suzy, our Ayrshire milk cow, when I heard Jim's scream that told me that rooster was up to his old tricks again.  Jumping off the stool, I cleared that fence with one leap trying desperately to fly rather than run to reach Jim faster.  By the time I got there, Bimbo had already grabbed that rooster and was holding him by the neck while the vile bird flapped his wings helplessly in a vain attempt to get away.  I had had enough.  I took that rooster from Bimbo and carried him directly to the chopping block.  With one swing of the axe, our troubles were over and there was chicken soup for dinner the next day.
There was also Jessie, the cow that was a problem to Jim.  She wasn’t trying to be mean to Jim but Bimbo knew that her games were difficult for Jim to fend off so Bimbo sent Jessie into retreat many a time by his growl and sometimes even a nip at her heels.  Eventually Jessie learned that if Bimbo was around, it was just better not to tackle Jim at all.
Bimbo loved kids.  Actually, Bimbo loved people.  But more than anything, Bimbo loved kids.  They were worth any pain, any discomfort, any sacrifice.  There was one family that used to visit us who had four small boys, aged three to nine.  These boys were ruthless.  They were fast, furious and into everything at once, an unrelenting, merciless, demolition crew.  They played rough - not only with each other but with everything - toys, animals, people, anything they came across.  And they came across Bimbo, simple, loving, trusting, Bimbo, who was willing to endure anything for a sake of some attention from kids.  One of their favourite games was to grab Bimbo's tongue and drag him around the yard.  I used to doubt Bimbo's intellect when he let them get away with it, never once clamping his teeth into those callous and cruel hands that caused him such indignity and discomfort.
But I think that he found these kids easier to take than another family, with three kids who were afraid of dogs.  Poor Bimbo was beside himself because he could not approach these kids with whom he would have loved to play but who, for some unknown reason, were terrified of him.  He tried so hard to show them he was harmless and friendly, that all he wanted was to love them, but he could not break through their barrier of fear.  He was relegated to sitting at a distance, watching longingly and forlornly, while the kids all frolicked together on the yard.
Bimbo was a friend not only to the kids.  He also stood guard over our calves, our cats, our rabbits and other animals as well as us adults.  Mitzy, our mother cat, never had to sleep on cold winter ground.  She curled up on a nice warm shaggy black cushion with built-in heat as she napped during cold winter nights.  There was never any dog/cat animosity there.  They were fast and loyal friends. 
As Jim grew older, his interests changed and he turned to books for his entertainment.  Bimbo seemed to accept this transition naturally and turned to the girls for company.  He was older now and more mature with a lot more responsibility with farm chores and he watched over his charges dutifully.  He also especially liked the fact that there were now almost always a lot of other kids around, neighbours’ kids, friends of our kids who came to play at our place.  He revelled in their company and in their games.  And the kids in turn all adored him.  It was a natural mutual admiration society.
Bimbo did have one bad habit though.  No matter how much we scolded him for it, he seemed to derive some fiendish pleasure out of chasing the cars that sped along the road by the yard.  He would race along barking and nipping at the spinning tires until the car was way past the yard.  Then he'd come back panting, his ears perky, his eyes bright and sparkling with pleasure as if he had just run some great marathon and had won.  He knew he'd get scolded and he didn't care.  He had chased that car away and he was proud of it!  There never was a hint of remorse in those dancing eyes after those chases.  We just could not convince him this was a dangerous game he was playing.
One day this game almost cost him his life.  John and I had gone to town for something and the kids, now seven, eight and eleven, were alone at home.  As a car sped along the road, Bimbo gave chase.  But the people who were inside that vehicle were malicious and cruel.  As Bimbo got along side the speeding automobile, they yanked the door open.  The impact caught Bimbo off guard, hitting him in the head and knocking him out.  The kids heard their raucous laughter as the car sped away from the dog that lay in a lifeless heap along the road.  
We came home a few minutes later to find the three kids weeping heartbrokenly over Bimbo's limp body which they had brought into the yard on a crudely fashioned hammock.
"They killed him," Jim sobbed brokenly.  "They did it on purpose.  I saw them.  And then I heard them laughing!  They killed him on purpose and then they laughed about it, honest Mom, I heard them," he emphasized through heart wrenching sobs.  The girls couldn't even talk.  They were crying too hard. 
John knelt down and inspected the still body.
"He's not dead", he pronounced and three sets of tear filled, bloodshot eyes turned to him with a glimmer of hope. 
"He's not?" they asked in unison, in disbelief, their sobbing arrested, their faces begging for affirmation.
"No, he's knocked out, but I think he'll be alright.  Animals can be strong that way.  Give him time." 
Three kids knelt down, hugging the shaggy still form gently, lovingly, willing the body to life.  They didn't leave his side and about half an hour later, Bimbo stirred and slowly, dazedly got up.  The kids were ecstatic. 
Bimbo was pretty lethargic for a while but he got back to be his normal self in a few days but he never again chased cars after that experience.  He had learned his lesson the hard way. 
That blow on the head from that car did affect him though.  It set a pattern of convulsions for Bimbo that plagued him from that day on.  The episodes were not frequent, but once or twice a year after that, Bimbo would go into spasms where he would fall, his feet kicking convulsively, his mouth frothing and his eyes rolled back till only the white was visible under the still open lids.  These episodes would last for about five minutes subsiding gradually until Bimbo would get up groggily and then go slowly to his dog house to rest.  He'd be listless for a couple of days but he always became himself again.  Until the next time.  This always worried the kids.
The fits came more frequently with each passing year.  It was just before Easter and Bimbo was ten when he had a particularly bad seizure.  His lethargy did not go away.  Within a week after the episode, Bimbo had lost his sight, then his hearing.  He could feel our touch but did not know how to find us.  So the kids and I would come to him.  We'd stroke him, pat him, love him, and our tears ran down our cheeks in rivers.  He strained to maintain that touch, to hold on to the contact.  We missed meals.  We forgot about Easter preparations.  We waded into puddles to lead Bimbo out onto whatever dry patches of the yard were left from the spring thaw.
We spent three days outside with Bimbo.  We walked with him, we talked to him, we kept our arms around him.  We maintained constant contact with him.  And we cried, all of us, constantly, uncontrollably.  He was so pathetic.  He so wanted our presence.  That was all we could give him now for all the love he had given us over the years. 
Then on the morning of the fourth day, we got up and Bimbo was nowhere to be found.  We searched.  It was no use calling.  He couldn't hear us.  We never did find his body.  Somebody later told us that a loving animal never dies at home.  It always goes away to die.  Bimbo must have known he was going to die.  He went away.  He spared us that final awful sight - the sight of his dead body. 
But in our hearts, Bimbo still lives.  He is still happy.  His tail is still wagging, and those sparkling eyes are still shining with that mischievous glint that he got when he'd done something great!