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As Long as We Remember...

January 27, 2012

Worried About Pushkin

Roy Meachum

For three nights this week I worried about putting my best friend “down.” Since we two live alone behind downtown’s yellow door, this would have left me grief-struck and bereft. But Pushkin recovered from whatever “ailed” him.


As I’ve said frequently, the English pointer and I both are old and gimpy. I was given him for my 70th birthday almost 14 years ago. People who relate to their pets term me “master:” the relationship doesn’t exist between Pushkin and me. Some have praised me for intelligence; he’s no less knowledgeable and sage. Without being able to articulate words, he communicates nevertheless. Wisely, he insists on exercise. He stands firmly in the middle of the library until I fetch the leash.


A recent scientific study showed dogs have been man’s best friends for some 33,000 years. Although English pointers are a hunting breed, I’m not about to drag him through swamps in search of birds. He’s much more than a friend; he’s at the center of my universe. I read unbelieving news stories dealing with man’s inhumanity to four-legged critters; sometimes, booze and drugs take the blame. My feeling is that the sadistic streak exists before the first drink or hit.


State Sen. Ron Young was Frederick’s mayor when I moved up from Bethesda 29 years ago; he’s introduced a bill – dropped into the hopper Wednesday – that would hamper people who mistreat dogs. No law can eliminate their ownership completely. But once convicted of cruelty, their photographs, fingerprints and addresses would be published on a list, and “charge them $50 a year to fund the registry,” which appears on the Maryland Department of Public Safety web site.


In a press release, accompanying his statement last week, the senator talked particularly of “a beautiful dog” killed by bow and arrow in Frederick, and a Baltimore man throwing a Yorkshire terrier 50 feet off a townhouse balcony. We’ve read accounts of animals starved and without medication for their sores and awful conditions. Luckily, my best friend cannot read or speak.


Pushkin and I went to West Frederick Veterinary Hospital last Thursday to receive acupuncture, as many readers know. Dr. Stacy Di Maria is a medical whiz, handy with the Chinese pins. Upon return, the English pointer refused food; that I’ve never seen before. His appetite didn’t improve. I called for Dr. Di Maria and took him in Friday for blood tests and X-rays. She gave him a shot.


Friday, Saturday and Sunday I lay awake worrying about my best friend, dreading I would be forced to put him down. He could not stand on his hind legs, but somehow miraculously he pulled himself out the back door; while I watched, he did his “business.” And he mounted the stairs to our second-floor sleeping quarters every evening. Appetite? Forget it. On Monday morning, while I showered, Pushkin arose from his bed, ate and stepped around the patio. We resumed the North Market Street promenades Tuesday.


As I have been writing this column, the English pointer has snored from the library’s love seat, his customary throne and daytime bed. That’s his routine after the promenades.


Meanwhile, Ron Young’s anti-cruelty to dogs bill needs your support, – even if you have no “best-friend” in the house or memories. Do it for Pushkin. He and I both thank you in advance.


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