Star the Wonder Dog is on our minds a lot lately.
She is almost 15 now and recently dislocated her
hip. The vet put it back in place, but she was a
three-legged dog for a couple of weeks. She is
better now, but slower. This is only natural since
she's more than 100 in human years.
Star had a mini-stroke in 2008 that affected her
balance and coordination. However, her border
collie instincts remain strong. She can't seem to
accept that she isn't able to run and jump like
before. The will is still there, but the results
are not. Her attempts to herd the cats around the
house are, I’m sure, met with grins from her
Star is the World’s Best Boat Dog and has been
since 2003 when Vic and I gave her that title. In
a column that year I invited owners of other boat
dogs to enter their pets in the contest but I
warned them that the best their pets could place
Star is a trawler dog. To earn her sleep and dish
of food, Star would patrol the perimeter of the
vessel to make sure enemies (like gulls and
pelicans) did not land without permission. If an
oriole landed on the bow pulpit to rest after its
spring migration flight across the Gulf of Mexico,
that was okay.
Star was never given the opportunity to herd
sheep. But, for a time, in her younger days, she
tried to herd dolphins from the deck of the
trawler. Just a whistle and the cry "daaaalphin"
from anyone aboard, and Star would leap into
action, rapidly moving from one side of the boat
to the other, barking at the playful creatures as
they surfed the bow wave or rode the wake astern.
Star is our office dog, too. Vic and I have always
thought that Star was a terrific judge of
character. The customers she really liked always
turned out to be the nicest people. The same was
true for employees. A long time ago a lady joined
our staff. For some reason Star would not go near
her. After a couple of months the employee left.
I think Star knew she was not going to stay.
But she yearns to be on the water, as do her
owners. We pick her up and carry her on and off
the boat. As we move across the bay, her nose
points upward and she happily sniffs the salt air.
As we move into the narrow channels it twitches
this way to sniff the birds in the mangroves on
one side and twitches that way to enjoy the smells
from a waterfront restaurant on the other.
She may be getting gray around the nose, and achy
in the joints, but she still loves to be on the
boat. Her days may be numbered -- and I think she
knows that, too -- but she’ll make the most of her
time left. For boat dogs, there is no time nor
inclination to self-pity.
The way I figure it all dogs on God’s blue water
planet are hard-wired to go boating. After all,
are they not descended from the original pair that
survived the flood aboard Noah’s Ark?
So this is our salute to Star and to all boat
dogs, and a salute to all the owners of boat dogs
who brought them on board and taught them the do's
and don'ts of boating.
For both parties to this agreement, it has been a