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There’s a little more to this story (with a cameo role by Crispin’s nose) that you can read over at my other blog, especially if you are in a craftsy frame of mind. I had decided to devote much of this weekend to painting, and though I have in fact made a bunch of miscellaneous things, I haven’t yet gotten out the ink and brushes (hey, the day is still young).

But here, for your viewing pleasure, a portrait of young Crispin in . . . felt:

He’s needle felted from about four different natural shades of sheep’s wool (and one highly unnatural bit of blue dyed wool for the collar). I made him last night and I’m ridiculously pleased with him. He’s just the right size to sit in the palm of your hand, or on your desk. Not, alas, on my desk, because that would put him well within reach of the flesh and blood (and hair and snool and mud and teeth) Crispin, who has indicated in no uncertain terms this morning that he thinks his likeness is very cute and ought to belong to him.

Crispin loves the kids’ old rope swing. It’s nothing fancy, just a sturdy length of rope tied to the branch of a huge maple tree so that its end hangs about 6 inches off the ground, with a number of large knots tied in it at various points up its length. He’s watched Second Child swing on it a number of times and loves to play with it himself.

Most of the time he simply grabs the lower end, pulling and tugging and growling at it, sometimes running in circles as if the rope were part of some demented canine May pole ritual. I’m convinced there’s a fair amount of make-believe going on in his hard little head when he plays with it–in his imagination I’m sure he’s the fierce wild dog and the rope is a coyote that’s unwisely strayed into our yard.

But his very favorite thing to do, when he can achieve it, is to leap as high as he can, sink his teeth into the rope 4 or 5 feet off the ground (he’s a formidable jumper), and swing there for a few minutes with his feet fully off the ground. Then he lets go, drops back to earth, and gives the rope a final furious tug, as if to say “And don’t let me catch you in my territory again!”

On Sunday afternoon, though, the rope got its own back. I had taken a book and a glass of wine to the small picnic table under the same tree, and Crispin, of course, trotted out to keep me company, or, more likely, to see whether I’d brought any interesting munchies with me. Disappointed that I had not, he went off to play and I sort of tuned him out while I read, vaguely aware of the jingling of his tags as he menaced the end of the rope.

Suddenly I realized he was whimpering instead of jingling or barking, and I turned around to see him hung up on the rope BY HIS TOOTH! His feet were dangling a good 2 feet off the ground, his front legs were waving in the air, and there he was, hanging by one scary canine tooth and looking absolutely frantic.

Fortunately I was just a few feet away–I ran over and grabbed him from behind around his middle, hoisted him up and unhooked his tooth, which was badly snagged on a frayed bit in the rope, and he ran off, none the worse for his close call. As for me, it took another glass of wine and a few hours to shake the “what if I hadn’t been out there with him” fears.

Having an airedale is a lot like having a toddler–hours and hours of pleasure interspersed with moments of sheer terror.

He is so shaggy. People are amazed when he gets up and they suddenly realize they have been talking to the wrong end. --Elizabeth Jones
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Nancy Hall ©2009
July 2021