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and company

In the morning I put on my red slippers. They are ordinary footwear of the kind worn on paved sidewalks or smooth park paths. I like the way they look and feel and that they are convenient for first thing in the morning.

The overgrown, over active puppy, Macho, makes off with one red slipper and when I catch up with him he is busy removing the sole. Fortunately he has started at the toe and not worked too far, so there is hope for repair. My neighbor, George, says that he may have some good glue, and takes my shoe home. When he returns it he explains that the glue will not hold, so he has used pig rings to clamp the sole to the toe. A pig ring is the size of a very small staple, the kind of staple used to attach wires to fence posts. These rings are made for the discouragement of pigs. They are clamped into the nostrils of the unfortunate animals to keep them from rooting up pastures and crops. Rooting is one of pigs' greatest joys and my two can root all they like. In fact their rooting is a good thing for when rains have softened the earth the pigs make depressions, plow long furrows. When next it rains the work of the pigs serves to hold the water and let it sink into the earth where it is needed.

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My red slippers are worn only for a brief breakfast time; to go to work outside I put on something more sturdy. One morning I had a surprise visit from city friends who had stopped to say hello on their way elsewhere. I had as yet no time to pick up scraps from the floor. Both the dogs Oso and Macho are confetti makers, using any bits of paper they can steal. I hadn't got around to taking out the Have-a-Heart mouse traps and freeing the prisoner. The house looked dreadful, I looked dreadful and the dogs were romping around wrangling with one another, having a lovely time being noisy.

My friends came into the kitchen, saw the captive mouse and I explained about my many mice and how I deal with the situation. I apologized for the number of unwashed dishes on the sink board, I hadn't washed them because the sink was stopped up, an ailment it suffers from often, I knew how to fix it and would, as soon as I found time. Someone noticed the pig rings on the end of my shoe and thought that they were decoration until I said that this was a repair job. No one had heard of pig rings before, so I discussed that.

Then my pig Wallace made his usual morning appearance on the back porch. He wanted me to hurry and feed him table scraps left from last night's supper and he emphasized his desires by screaming and banging on the door. Not understanding the rules for survival in this house, someone opened the door to see what was happening. This was an invitation for Wallace to hurry into the kitchen. Wallace is no cute little pink piglet; he is an adult pig of the ordinary size and his entrance caused terrified noises from humans. Scared out of his wits, Wallace turned and ran out the door, slipped, fell down the porch steps, rolled over, picked himself up and headed briskly for the peace and quiet of the barnyard.

I let all the dogs but Oso out for their run. Until he grows strong I don't like Oso to overdo things. He is, or was, not my dog until I saw him limping past my house. I got his injured leg repaired as best as possible and put him to bed in the guest room. He enjoyed all the good food and care he received, grew so happy and lively that when he is excited about something he forgets to hop on three legs and his bd leg works well. Still I didn't want him to play too violently with the kitchen to meet my friends. They thought he was lovely. He is a pretty little dog with a sharp eager face, silky white coat and a tail as luxuriant as any fox could grow. He loves people.

I explained how I had happened to acquire him. "Of course you had to do something for him," someone said, "but you didn't need another dog and this one must just add to your hardships."

Much later in the day as I was riding a good horse out check on the spring and cattle in the back pasture, I tried to see my life style through the eyes of city people. My house is overflowing with mice, dogs and cats. It is a large old untidy house. My sink is stopped up, my shoe had to be repaired with pig rings . . . I felt almost apologetic for not realizing how difficult my days are. Oso is no brighter than I am. He too doesn't seem aware of his hard lot.


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