The Vulture eats between his meals,
And that's the reason why
He very, very, rarely feels
As well as you and I.
His eye is dull, his head is bald,
His neck is growing thinner.
Oh! what a lesson for us all
To only eat at dinner!
[Joseph] Hilaire [Pierre René] Belloc
The portrait below hangs above the fireplace on the West wall of the Dining Room. I am standing at the left in the portrait, and toward the right is Paul Campbell, my longtime companion since 1970.
On November 5, 1996 at approximately 3:30 a.m. a burglar broke the glass out of the window at the North end of the library and entered. He must have cut himself because afterwards we found traces of blood on the carpet at the point of entry. He made his way south toward the living room in the dark feeling his way around the dining room table. About midway through the dining room he heard a voice say: "Jesus is watching you." He froze in his tracks. After the room remained silent for several minutes he advanced. Again he heard the words: "Jesus is watching you." By this time his eyes were becoming more accustomed to the night and he spotted our parrot in his cage on the Grand Piano. Was it you who said: "Jesus is watching you", he inquired. "Yes ", said the parrot. "What is your name?", asked the burglar. "Clarence", replied the parrot. "That is a funny name for a parrot", responded the thief; "Who gave you a silly name like that?" "John S. Morgan", said the parrot, "the same guy who named the doberman Jesus."
Paul and I own neither a parrot nor a doberman but we had two delightful miniature Poodles. The younger and larger white one named Pinkston was born in 1987. Tory, the smaller black one, is three years older and a bit of a grouch.
Speaking of whom, here they are....
Pinkston and Tory were adult dogs when we adopted them at the pound. They immediately recognized Paul as their master. Slowly, over a period of a year, Pinkston transferred his allegiance to me. Typical Poodles, they always have yapped a lot around strangers. On the positive side that made them ideal watch dogs. They were very territorial. We sent them to their quarters when guests were afoot because Pinkston still had the little dog habit of nipping at the heels of house guests. And Tory would bite if you pet him in the wrong spot. He was a very lovable dog, but their seems to be some areas or joints that were terribly painful if touched or if he feared that that would happen. Tory idolized Paul. When Paul got out of bed in the middle of the night to watch TV, or read, Tory would arise as well.
I have never had a dog like Pinkston, who would sit and stare into my eyes for minutes at a time. You have never seen such love in an animals eyes. My aunt Arline said he was worshiping. He followed me every where I went. When I first met Pinkston he did not appreciate being touched but eventually he couldn’t live without a little rough housing. Pinkston and my Aunt Arline were also very good buddies.
The boys played serious games with each other. Tory liked to hide dog biscuits. He especially liked to ‘bait’ Pinkston. He would set a biscuit at the foot of a chair, with the hopes that Pinkston would want it, and then hide in the chair to watch. As soon as Pinkston would come near the bone Tory would growl and show his teeth. Sometimes they would fight and moments later be seen licking each other’s eyes as if they were always the best of friends. At mealtime, Pinkston would sometimes sniff both bowls and walk away, as if to say to Tory, "It is no good tonight." When Tory would ignore it, Pinkston would sneak back later to eat both bowls.
They both had a giant bed to sleep in. But they would play 'king of the hill'. The first one into bed would prevent the other one from joining. Sometimes the one who lost would sleep on the floor. At other times they would scrap for a while and both share the bed.
Whenever Tory would hear a loud noise, be it a reprimand or the first crack of thunder in a storm, he would slowly, immediately, and methodically, head for his retreat under the bed. Tory would not tolerate any loud noise.
Tory had a favorite food. Was it some kind of meat like chicken or beef that a typical dog would crave? No it was a textured soybean product called "Boca sausage" a non-meat sausage substitute. He just loved it. While nearly blind with severe arthritis and even in a deep sleep he would wake up at the smell of Boca. Fortunately for Tory, I had a Boca sausage most mornings with my egg beaters.
As Tory grew older, it became too hard for him to jump up on the furniture so I got him a doggie bed that was just his size and easily accessible at floor level near Paul's easy chair. He loved it.
Tory developed congestive heart failure and stopped eating for the week prior to his death on Saturday, May 18, 2002. The last thing Paul said to Tory was that he should ask for Saint Francis when he reached doggie heaven. Paul was devastated since they were the best of friends.
Pinkston followed Tory to the grave about a year and a half later on October 20, 2003 at about age 17. He had become totally deaf due to an inoperable brain tumor and when we noticed him walking into walls we realized he was blind as well. We took him on his last trip to the vet.
On June 10, 2002 Geoffrey Tyler Campbell came to live with us. He was born in Tyler, Texas Sept 28, 2001 and called Tyler. Pinkston graciously put up with the new interloper. Geoffrey always wanted to play but Pinkston was an old dog who wanted to sleep.
At eight months of age Geoffrey was a little rascal. He loved to chew! Anything! Paul's house slippers, labels attached to sofas, Kleenex. Geoffrey liked to chew on an old "bone" of Pinkston's which hasn't had any attention paid to it in years; funny thing - Pinkston decided he wanted to chew on it from time to time again. Geoffrey seldom barks but when he does it is a great baritone roar. He had a domesticating effect on Pinkston who learned how to visit with company without incessant barking. Pinkston was very circumspect at first but they became friends. They were great companions.
Geoffrey is nearly 4 years old - a wonderfully loving and well behaved puppy.
Our first dog I named Al, while a puppy. He grew to be a large Black Labrador Retriever. He had the nicest disposition of any dog I have ever known, and he never jumped up on anyone, as large dogs are wont to do. When business meetings were held at the house, Al would quietly make the rounds, greeting each of the guests. During a rainstorm, when it thundered, I would find this big Labrador on my lap shivering and terrified.
Once upon a time, when I lived in Jonesboro Arkansas, I moved to an old farm house located about ten miles from the City. I found that I had a mouse problem. My friend from the city said that he knew of several cats that lived under his neighbor’s house that he had befriended. He told me that a cat would scare off any mice that I might have.
He said that while he had befriended the cats, they were people shy, because they had been badly abused by neighborhood boys. [accent on the ‘hood’] He secured a cat for me; I drove it 10 miles to my country home. I named her Esmeralda. She cringed when I held her, as if to say: "Why must I be touched by a man when most humans that I know are mean enough to throw rocks at me." On the way home, Esmeralda was so frightened that twice she leapt at the windshield, attempting an escape from the car, only to hit her head on the glass.
When we arrived home, I took her inside, showed her where the water, food and litter box were. Then she hid. Every morning, I would fill the food dish, replenish the water, and empty the litter box. When I returned home after a long day’s work I would notice that the food had been eaten, water tasted, and litter box used, but no Esmeralda in sight. She was hiding.
I would begin my search; look under the bed; search the closet; check behind the furniture. Every night it would be a new hiding place. And her hiding places were often good and creative. One day I found her way back in a shoe box on the top shelf of the hall closet. My reaction would invariably be the same. I would gently pick her up, pet her and free her to pursue her own devices. She would always cringe but never strike out or scratch. That is the last I would see her for the rest of the evening. Every night it would be the same.
Then one evening, nearly two weeks later, near bedtime, Esmeralda walked up to me and said: "Lets be friends". She let me hold her and pet her on the spot. From that moment on we became the best of friends. She even slept with me. We were inseparable. Eventually I cut a hole in the floor under one of the kitchen cabinets so, she could have access to the outdoors when I was gone during the day. She rewarded me by dating a Tomcat not on my approved dating list.
During the later sages of her pregnancy I tried to keep her outside but she would find ways of breaking into that old farm house. One morning I awoke to the sound of a cat cry in my bed under the sheet. I said to myself: "That does not sound like Esmeralda." Sure enough it was not. Esmeralda chose to have her babies with me, in my bed. I guess I was flattered.
When I moved to Fort Worth, after Esmeralda had gone to cat heaven, Paul and I adopted a kitten who was soon to nurse a litter of her own kittens. Our friend Tommy, who lived down the block, also had a cat who had just given birth but was hit and killed by a careless motorcyclist. He brought his litter down to us. We added one into our own cat’s litter about every half hour till she was nursing twelve. Those little kittens would feed in brigades. When six retired, six more would approach for mama cat’s milk. Occasionally, she would rise to take a break, stagger about, and with big, tired, bloodshot eyes, look us over as if to say: "What are you guys trying to do to me."
The next time that cat had kittens, she had only one - as if to say: " I’ll show you guys this time! We named that little kitten ‘Only’. Only had the world’s largest milk supply and no brothers and sisters to fight and play with. Her rear end became so chubby that she could barely walk. We were worried about finding her a suitable home. But we did find a very good home and Only was adored by everyone in the family. When their family went on vacation they hired a sitter for Only. And each year on her birthday we got a card for many years to come.