THE BLACK STALLION

 

If I’m going to be in a movie, I say — bring on the horses!

I grew up yearning for a horse and devoured any book about them. My favorites books were the Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series. I probably read the book so many times its cover fell apart.

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All through my childhood, Walter Farley wrote a steady stream of new Black Stallion books  — and I read every one of them. About his colts and fillies. About Alec Ramsey, who grew from a teenage boy to a man in the course of the series. Of Henry Daily, the old horse trainer whose career is revived by his accidental encounter with Alec and The Black. Many stories, as the years went on, were about the racing stable Alex and Henry build in upstate New York for which The Black was the founding stud. To this day, I know more about horses and horse racing than most people … because Walter Farley told me all about it in book after book.

Throughout my young years, I wished they would make The Black Stallion into a movie. I wanted to see The Black, to see Alec ride him. To see him come from behind and become the greatest horse to ever run on a track. I was bewitched by horses and was convinced I would need nothing else in this life if I had a horse.

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Oddly, the great Secretariat’s real accomplishments — winning the Triple Crown in 1973 — remarkably mirrored those of the fictional Black. Watching Secretariat’s career — in the real world — made up for never having seen The Black race.

I never got a horse. Gradually real life overtook my fantasy life. College, work, husband, baby, home, friends replaced dreams of riding bareback on the greatest stallion of them all.

But the magic wasn’t over me because in 1979, Francis Ford Coppola made the movie I’d yearned for since childhood. He based the movie, The Black Stallion, on the first of Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books, the one he wrote in 1941. In making the movie, they changed the story some. This would have made me crazy as a kid, but by the time I saw the movie — in an old theater in Jerusalem, Israel — I was a 30-year-old mother living overseas and able to cope with relatively minor digressions from the original tale.

Last week, Turner Classic Movies showed “The Black Stallion.” So, of course, we watched it again. I’ve seen it many times. Each is seeing it for the first time.

I am swept away to a desert island for the adventure of a lifetime. Even if you aren’t a great horse lover, the score and the cinematography are so extraordinary, the movie is like a dream. They set the story in its original time period, the early 1940s which helps augment the dreamlike effect.

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I want to be on that island with The Black. To ride him along the edge of the ocean, free from everything but the sun, the wind, the sand beneath my horse’s pounding hoofs. I would give a lot for just one day to live that dream.

“The Black Stallion” is a paean to horses, nature, and overcoming adversity. You don’t have to be a kid to love it. It also contains the least dialogue of any movie since the talkies took over Hollywood.

Director Carroll Ballard tells the story with luscious cinematography and a lovely soundtrack. Music fusing with images that wrench your heart.

TINKER’S WORLD

FOR JUDY DYKSTRA-BROWN AND MORRIE

Can you set a price on love? Can you set a number to it? Can you calculate it by the cost of veterinary care? Squeaky toys? Greenies?  Dog food? Grooming?

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Tinker Belle was a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, usually called PBGVs or Petites. They are a medium-sized, shaggy rabbit hound from the Vendée region of France.

PBGVs are not the dog for everyone. Smart, sometime scarily. Natural clowns who will do almost anything to make you laugh. Noisy, nosy, and into everything.

Tinker Belle was special. From the day I brought her home, she wasn’t like any other puppy. Incredibly smart. As a rule, hounds are intelligent, but she was something else.

Housebreaking? We showed her the doggy door. She was henceforth housebroken. She could open any door, any gate and close them behind her. She would open jars of peanut butter without leaving a fang mark to note her passing. All you’d find was a perfectly clean empty jar that had previously been an unopened, brand new jar.

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She was sensitive. Probably a born therapy dog, she knew who was in pain, who was sick. She knew where you hurt. The only dog who would never step on a healing incision, but would cuddle close to you, look at you with her dark, soft eyes and tell you everything would be fine.

She never hurt a living thing, not human or anything else … except for small varmints she hunted in the yard. She was, after all, a hound. A hunter, born to track, point and carry prey back to a master.

She was the smartest of our dogs, the smartest dog ever. Not just a little bit smarter than normal. A huge amount smarter. When you looked into Tinker’s eyes, it wasn’t like looking into the eyes of a dog. She was a human in a dog suit.

She knew. We called her Tinker The Thinker because she planned. Remembered. She held grudges. Nonetheless, she was at the bottom of the pack hierarchy.

We thought it was her own choice. She had no interest in leadership. Too much responsibility maybe? But the other dogs knew her value. When they needed her, other dogs would tap into her expertise in gate opening, package disassembly, cabinet burglary, trash can raiding, and other canine criminality.

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Throughout her life, she housebroke each new puppy. A couple of hours with Tinker, and the job was done. It was remarkable. Almost spooky. She then mothered them until they betrayed her by growing up and playing with other dogs.

When Griffin, our big male Petite Basset Griffon Vendeen came to live with us a few months after Tinker, they became The Couple. inseparable, deeply in love. They ate together, played together, slept together, sang together. When about a year later, we briefly had a little Norwich Terrier pup and Griffin (what a dog) abandoned Tinker to go slobbering after Sally.

Tinker’s sensitive heart broke. She became depressed, would not play with humans or dogs. For the next decade, Tinker wouldn’t even look at Griffin. She apparently blamed us, too, her humans for having brought another girl into the house. In retribution for our crimes, Tinker began a Reign of Terror.

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Tinker took to destroying everything she could get her fangs. She was three years old when the destruction began.

She’d done a modest amount of puppy chewing, but nothing extraordinary. She was more thief than chewer. She would steal stuff and hide it. Shoes, toys, towels, stuffed animals. After Griffin betrayed her with that stupid little bitch — Sally was indeed the polar opposite of Tinker being the dumbest dog I’ve ever known and ill-tempered to boot — Tinker was no longer a playful thief. She was out to get us.

Nothing was safe. She had a particular passion for destroying expensive electronic devices. Cell phones, remote controls, portable DVD players, computers. If she could get a fang to them, she killed them.

She would do enormous damage in under a minute. We couldn’t leave the room unless we put everything where Tinker couldn’t get it. She struck quickly. When we went to bed for the night, every item had to be locked away. If she couldn’t get to an electronic item, she ate the sofa, the rocking chair, the coffee table, a lot of books, many DVDs.

For dessert, shoes were yummy. I didn’t own shoes without tooth marks. We called them “Tinkerized.” We had a grading system from 10 – Utterly destroyed, to 1 – Only shows if you look closely. Most of my shoes fell into the 2 to 3 range and since she tended to start at the heel, I figured most folks wouldn’t notice.

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During one memorable intermission, Tinker dismembered the remotes. She pulled off the backs, tore out the batteries (but did not eat them), then ripped out the innards — in under two minutes.

She didn’t waste time. If she had leisure, she’d also tear out keys and mangle cases, but if time was limited, she went straight to the guts of the thing. She was good.

For her entire life, we lived under siege. If you didn’t want it Tinkerized, you couldn’t leave it exposed, not for a minute.

For the last year of her life, after we brought Bonnie home, Tinker became a real dog again. With Bonnie, Tinker ran around. Played tag. Joined the chorus when the pack pointed their muzzles at the sky and sang.

Hounds have beautiful voices and Tinker’s was the best.

Three years ago, Tinker died of cancer. She had shown no symptoms except a slight slowing down. One day, she collapsed. A couple of weeks later, Griffin had a stroke and died too. They were exactly the same age and I don’t believe for a minute that their nearly simultaneous passing was a coincidence.

After the two hounds were gone, the pack did not sing for half a year. One day, mourning ended and they started to sing again.

Great Griffin

Griffin, who broke her heart

What was Tinker’s true cost? We paid $700 for her as a pup. She caused thousands of dollars of damage to electronics, furniture, shoes, books, DVDs, videotapes, dolls, stuffies — who knows what else?

She paid us back and more. When I was ill, Tinker never left my side. When I was back from surgery, missing another piece of me and in pain, Tinker was there, never placing a paw where it would hurt me. How much is that worth? What is the true cost of a lifetime love of a dear friend?

TOO SOON OLD

We have an old dog who has reached the end of a long run and I feel terrible about it. She’s not sick, mind you. Just old. Deaf. Rather blind, too. Her rear end is gone. We have been carrying her in and out of the house for months.

A while back, decided, we agreed to give her this summer and then, send her to the bridge.

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It is making me miserable. Because she isn’t unhappy or ill, just less and less mobile. I relate to that. Otherwise, she seems pretty happy. Except that Garry has to get up at dawn to carry her outside, then wait and bring her back up. I’m up a few hours later to do it again. This continues all day, every day. When the snow flies, it will be impossible to manage.

Eventually, we get to this point with every pet. I hate it. Never get used to it, never feel okay about it. It is easier if your fur kid is suffering. Then, at least, you feel it was a necessary thing, unavoidable, timely. This just hurts and fills me with dread.

I’m trying to wrap my brain around it, but it’s not going well. It is making me sad and it’s doing the same to Garry.

Our pets get old much too soon.

NOTE: I was going to post this without allowing comments, but finally decided to leave it be. I’m thanking all of you for you kindness and understanding. I hope you’ll understand that I’m not going to say thank you to each of you individually, but I did want to make sure you all know I am very grateful for the sympathy and concern.

MERCY FOR ANIMALS ! STOP THE STUPID OLD DANCE!

Marilyn Armstrong:

I am so happy that awareness about stopping the mistreatment of animals is being widely encouraged in India. It is very heartening. This excellent post is good news for animals and their humans.

Originally posted on soul n spirit:

Serendipity Photo Prompt: Stupid Old People

” Is your elephant ready for safari?” asked a restless old lady from the crowd of tourists. She was looking anxious and worried.

” I will go after an hour. That group is leaving shortly. You can join them for safari.” replied the mahout. 

The lady and his aged husband along with their relatives ran towards the elephant which was leaving shortly for safari.

” I have no space left as there are already more number of people sitting here. Normally four are allowed on one creature. I can’t accommodate any one” confirmed the mahout.

” How can you refuse us? We too have paid the money for safari. Make us sit or I will complain” threatened the lady. 

The mahout didn’t want to escalate the issue so he suggested, ” Okay, Two of you can come here with us and rest two can…

View original 462 more words

GOOD OR BAD OR INDIFFERENT?

When I add up the good and bad in my life, I often wonder how so many things done with such good intentions managed to turn out so poorly.

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I’ve done stuff I thought was nice — helpful — only to have it backfire in a particularly horrible way. You know, like the couple you introduced? They got married (yay), but are now in the middle of a hideous divorce (boo). One way or the other, someone (probably everyone) is mad at me. I meant well.

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Over all, I did the best I could. I tried to help. Maybe I didn’t succeed. Maybe my kindness turned out to be a massive disservice.

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Only my dogs really appreciate me. They want what I can give. They don’t worry about consequences, side effects, or what might go wrong. The want a biscuit. A cuddle. A nice game of tug of war. They never want more than I can give. If I don’t get it right, they always forgive me. Immediately and never hold a grudge.

That’s the thing about dogs. And the problem with people.

THEY CALL ME BOB

Note: Sorry folks, this is a Daily Prompt with non-working links. They may fix it, or not. I hope the little story stands on its own legs.

A DOG NAMED BOB

Once upon a time in a land far, far way, there lived a big shaggy dog by the name of Bob. Bob lived, with his family of mom, dad, and 2.7 children, in a modest home in a subdivision not far, as the road goes, from a major metropolitan city. Which we will call “The Hub.”

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Every morning, Bob’s task was — after cleaning every last drop of maple syrup off the family’s breakfast plates — to trot to the mailbox. There, Bob would pick up the newspaper which the truck delivered before dawn.

Bob would clamp the paper between his big jaws and haul it inside, sometimes the worse for wear. His intentions were honorable. Nobody minded a bit of mauling to the paper. All anyone ever did was scan the sports section and check if any of the coupons were worth clipping. The rest of the paper got thrown away anyhow.

All that ink and paper was truly wasted on the family, but Bob didn’t care and neither did any of the humans in the household.

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This particular morning dawned bright and sunny. Just as Bob was about to collect the morning newspaper, he spied a bird — maybe a bluejay? — on the branch of a nearby shrub. Unable to contain his enthusiasm, even though he was no kind of bird dog, Bob took off to catch that bird.

And so the paper was left in a heap by the mail box. Bob discovered a great new world of birds, squirrels, bunnies, and (uh oh) cute girl dogs.

After that, life was never the same in the little house in the cookie cutter subdivision not far from the great, metropolitan Hub.

The end — or is it just the beginning?