THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
Emmy the Bold is getting old before her time.
Not only did Gwen the Beautiful and I not see this coming, we didn’t even notice when it got here. It took the eyes of a stranger for that.
Morgan the Texas Biker, to be exact.
With Burl Jr. out searching for musical glory, we’ve begun hunting for another Groundskeeper. Karen the Post Lady told Morgan about the situation, and last weekend he came up to the ranch.
He was a nice enough guy, and certainly qualified for the job, but neither Gwen nor I were able to get past his first words when he saw Emmy: “What a fine old dog you’ve got there! Spry, considering her age.”
“Age?” I said.
“What’re you talking about?” said Gwen.
We took a long look at a dog that, although she’s just turning six, had taken a couple of very long minutes to got up from where she’d been lying down and now was walking every bit as stiff-leggedly as John Wayne.
Until that moment we’d been seeing her as she’d been.
Now we saw her as she was.
Morgan got short shrift as Gwen and I put Emmy into the truck and paid a hurried visit to the vet. Robin Theobald, DVM, welcomed her with treats, anesthetic, and X-Rays, and then showed us the bad news:
“Emmy’s been one seriously active girl,” Robin said. “See these shadows here, in her knees? They’re bone spurs, caused by injuries that occur from running around all over the place…and maybe falling off a mountain or two.”
“Emmy has fallen off her share of mountains,” Gwen said, and in my mind I saw the time when Puppy Emmy ran full-speed over an outcropping, tumbled ‘way too many feet to the ground—and got right up to sprint joyfully home without uttering a complaining sound.
In that moment I remembered all of Emmy’s spills. And her thrills too. After all, how could I forget anything about the dog that saved my life?
Not physically, no. She didn’t drag me out of a burning barn or do any of the things that fill the pages of dog books. Instead, Emmy saved my spirit. She gave me a reason to keep breathing at a time when I wasn’t sure I wanted to anymore.
Gwen and I were living in Southern California then, and my days as a television writer and producer were coming to a depressing end.
For years I’d been one of show business’s favorite young rebels, welcomed by executives eager to hear my ideas and buy my skills. But by the mid-1990s I wasn’t exactly the new kid on the block. The execs I’d worked with were gone, replaced by men and women my children’s age.
No longer was I a man to be conjured with, or even one to just plain respect. I was a father figure in an industry that catered almost exclusively to youth. The faces of potential buyers dropped when they saw my graying beard. Jobs stopped coming. Meetings became agonizing.
At the time, what I wanted more than anything in the world was to clap my hands and make TV magic. To put on a show!
What those I met with wanted was to clap their hands and make me go away.
Age discrimination made my professional life unbearable. I couldn’t live with that, so I quit. But my professional life had been all-consuming. Without it, I felt despondent. Empty.
Until Emmy the Bold leapt into my life.
Watching her charge headlong into everything she did, enjoying herself to the utmost no matter what, showed me that if you’ve got the right frame of mind, everything you’re involved in is fulfilling.
Wonderful in its way.
And, with this realization, I came back to wonderful, meaningful, fulfilling life.
In Robin Theobald’s office, I knew I had to do for Emmy what she’d done for me. Before things became unbearable for her.
Gwen and I loaded up on dog vitamins and minerals and meds. I’ve been grinding them into Emmy’s food everyday. They won’t heal her, but they’ll ease the pain. She’s already moving more naturally—and running, running, running till she drops off to sleep.
I’ll call Morgan later to talk seriously about the Groundskeeper job. Right now, though, Emmy’s jumping at the door. “Larry! C’mon! Time to play soccer. Let’s go! Let’s go!”
Wonder how long it’ll take her to puncture another ball….