14. Broken Foot

Dear Boomer,

I could have told him!  How I try to warn him!

I whimpered and whined and said, “Don’t go to the cottage without me, Alpha.  You know you’ll only get into trouble without me.”

But do you think he ever listens?  No-o-o-o...

And so here is my Alpha now, hobbling around with a big, fat, fibreglass stocking – as hard as a chew stick.[1]  It’s on his right leg, from the stifle all the way down to his claws.  He can’t move his foot.  He must hobble around on a couple of sticks, or hop about on his one good leg.

This makes him very slow when he takes me out for a walk, and somewhat cranky if I tug at the leash to hurry him along.  He seems to fear that I’ll pull one of those sticks out from under his armpit, and I have no way of telling him not to be afraid of getting down on all fours.  He’d probably find it a lot easier on our walks to gallop along like that.  Already, that’s how he climbs up and down the stairs, but he can’t seem to get the hang of doing it quickly.

It happened on a day that he left for the cottage with the Pup and the Guy with the Black Jack Cat.[2]  They took the Guy’s car, but I could tell they were going to the cottage by the clothes and the food they stacked by the front door in preparation for departure.

They didn’t come home that night, but She Who Must Be Obeyed remained at the house.  She and some female friends packed humanoid dishes into boxes.[3]  The next day, she left me at home, driving off in the new car that she never lets me ride in.  And later in the evening, the Black Jack Cat Guy delivered the Pup and Alpha – with Alpha’s leg wrapped in fibreglass.

I’ve been listening to try figure out what happened.  It seems Alpha was climbing a tree at the cottage and a branch broke.  He fell only a couple of feet – landed on the top of the ladder that, fortunately, the Black Jack Cat Guy was holding steady.  A short distance, but enough to break a bone.

Why would Alpha be climbing a tree?  To catch squirrels, maybe.  I’ve often wondered what it would be like if we could go after them in their own domain and maybe, ever the adventurer, Alpha tried to find out for himself. 

My Alpha is about seven years old, in dog terms.[4]  Some of his friends tell him he shouldn’t be climbing trees.  He scoffs: says the accident has nothing to do with his age.  He maintains that the branch broke because of this summer’s drought, or the thinning of the ozone layer, or the decades of changing to daylight savings time, or a combination of all the factors that make tree branches less strong than they were when he was a pup.

In the meantime, he has taught the Pup to feed me and bring me my water, as well as do other chores Alpha can’t do with just one leg and two sticks.  The Pup also holds the leash when the three of us go for a walk.[5]  There seem to be big changes taking place.  I’ll keep you informed.

                                                                        On four good legs and true,


[1] This is a reference to a cast.  Medical records at the emergency room of the Kingston General Hospital at this time indicate that Alpha was treated for a broken metatarsal.

[2] The Windsor Chronicles contain no other reference to this individual, but it is assumed he was a trusted friend of Alpha’s who owned a black cat.  For theories on who the mystery man might be, see Andrea Jackson, “Canoes, Cats and the Continuing Literary References to Tom Thompson, “ Carleton University Review, July 2008.

[3] This is the last reference in the Windsor Chronicles to She Who Must Be Obeyed.  Theodore Melnyk in his exhaustive study, Nuclear Family, Extended Family, Pack; The World of Zoscha the Wonder Dog, Knoff, 2009, concludes that this reference indicates the point at which she leaves the family home, cf pp. 126-129.

[4] Zoscha converts one dog year for seven “humanoid” years, making Alpha 49 – whether she thinks this is too old to be climbing trees is not recorded.

[5] Melnyk uses this passage, and the notable absence of any reference to She Who Must Be Obeyed, as conclusive proof that she has left.  Ibid. p. 129.