In summer of 1923 my father and his family left Lexington Massachusetts
for Inglewood California in a big grey Packard Touring Car. Somewhere in the west they came to a gas and food stop.
The owner had some strange puppies that were clearly dogs except
that they had the clawed feet appropriate to cats. Some had catlike eyes. The owner claimed they were half dog, half mountain
lion. My father and his family examined the puppies very carefully and claim there was no pasted on claws or anything phony
February 26, 2006
The Persistence of Life
One day in my sixteenth summer I was walking a long stretch of Pine Street in Dover Massachusetts
to visit a friend when I heard a soft muffled moaning. I looked down and saw perhaps the saddest thing I have ever seen and
hopefully ever will see.
A kitten had been run over by a car. The poor little one was crushed inside out. He had been
squashed so that most of his body had come out his own mouth. His own continuous choking and gaging had actually furthered
How long he had been this way I don't know, but all trace of moisture was gone. The kitten was
very dried, eyes closed, continuing to gag while being devoured by ants and flies. I flagged down a passing motorist
who helped out by letting me put the kitten under one of his tires and out of his misery.
February 24, 2006
Wolf in the Kitchen
When I was nineteen I was living in a large Victorian House
in South Natick Massachusetts. That summer I raised a female wolf cub I named Tooth. She always liked to go off by herself
to explore. I kept her in the second floor kitchen at night so he wouldn't dig a hole under the back yard fence.
When she was only eight weeks old, she figured out how to open
the kitchen window by pushing it up with her paws. Then she jumped from the high window falling down to a brick terrace. She
did this on two occasions and survived both times. She seemed a bit lame after the first attempt.
February 28, 2006
The Wolf Spider
In the early 1970s a friend of mine named Peter Dyer from
Waban Massachusetts told me about something that happened when he was camping near Boulder Colorado.
A chap who was with Pete was sleeping under the overhang of a
large pile of rough-cut lumber. This individual was deathly afraid of spiders. It was early in the morning. He was lying
on his back bare chested looking up at the sky.
Suddenly a large gray wolf spider about half the size of a tarantula
landed on his chest. He was paralyzed with fear and just lay there looking at the spider who just stood there looking at him.
This went on for fifteen minutes.
Finally the chap just couldn't stand it anymore and let loose
with a blood curdling scream. The spider then gave him a bite like a horse and scurried quickly off on other business.
April 4, 2006
Extraordinary Muscle Control
Long ago there was a handsome golden German Shepherd Dog named
Hector. He was a lamb in wolf's clothing and had certain abilities I still find remarkable.
One was his strange way of dealing with bumble-bees and yellow-jackets
that came buzzing around him. He would snap them out of the air with his mouth faster than the eye could see and swallow them
whole like mini hors d'oeuvres. Never any indication of being stung.
One night I added some cooked green peas to his usual food.
I mixed them in well. Hector was not in the mood for peas that night because he left them all in the bottom of the bowl, completely
un-bruised, free of gravy, and so clean that, after a colander rinse, you could serve them to a diplomat without blinking.
Dreams and Reality
The following is a journal entry
of mine from 1975. It pertains to my mother's
dog Nickie, a large black German Shepherd with the unusual ability to kill raccoons and rattlesnakes without any injury to
himself. She also said that he often seemed to know what she was thinking.
"Summer. Ma and Nickie apparently
share a dream. Ma dreams that a kid on a scooter bike kicks Nickie in the mush. Nickie is yelping in his own dream as Ma awakens.
Later the kid's father calls up to complain about Nickie chasing the kid on his scooter bike".
February 21, 2006
Bats in the Castle Tower
Around 1990 at Castle on the Green in Lyndonville Vermont
there were young bats in the tower cellar that stayed the winter. I kept only dusty bottles of red wine on the circular shelves
and left them alone.
One night I was in the large chamber next to the tower room on
the third floor when a good sized bat started flying around and around the eighteen foot high ceiling in that room. I talked
to him and said "Come on downstairs with me and I'll let you out".
I slowly walked down the long flights of stairs talking calmly
to the bat as I went. He went with me flying in circles around the ceiling of each hallway we passed through. When we reached the ground floor, I opened the front door. The bat took a couple of
laps around through the sitting room and museum room and finally flew out the front door.
March 5 2006
The Special Squirrel
Last night at my downtown club I was telling my
friend Grant about the strange animal stories in this collection and he told me one of his own, stranger still.
In early Summer of 1994 Grant was camping in a forest of
deciduous and evergreen trees near Austin Texas. Just after dinner he was was relaxing, looking up at the sky and trees.
He noticed various open-top squirrel nests on sturdy limbs and then another larger nest that was very different from the others.
The special nest was enclosed on top, and the way it was
suspended among three smaller branches, would be able to withstand winds and earthquakes that the others would probably
not. Grant said that compared to the other nests it looked as though it were built by an ancient Egyptian.
As Grant watched, a squirrel from one of the neighboring nests
ran up through the branches and tried to enter the special nest. The occupying squirrel met this with hostility and a long
battle ensued with the adversaries jumping from limb to limb and tree to tree making an awful racket.
Grant watched for a while until he became annoyed and finally
jumped up waving his arms and yelled at the squirrels to settle down. The neighbor squirrel retreated back home and things
were quiet for a while.
Then Grant noticed the special squirrel nearby jumping up
and down on a big cluster of boulders. The squirrel kept at it, going from boulder to boulder. Grant couldn't
understand why he was doing this. Finally the squirrel went back to up his mansion.
A few minutes later Grant heard an ominous vibrating sound close
at hand. He looked to his side and right next to his sleeping bag was a large rattlesnake stretched out perfectly straight.
Grant rolled over away from the snake which then retreated to his home among those same nearby boulders. Grant left
The next day Grant returned and moved his campsite, which he
concludes to this day, is exactly what the special squirrel wanted him to do.
March 22 2006
On a subsequent occasion Grant told me another strange story, this
time about wolves in Colorado.
In Spring of 1997 Grant was camping in Colorado Springs. He decided to go to town for a soda.
As he walked out of the wooded camp area, on the road which ran straight ahead, he saw three wolves about 450 feet away. They
were absolutely identical except that two were pure white and one was pure black.
When the wolves saw Grant they went behind a car. Within about seven seconds he looked under
the car to see if they were hiding or retreating. He saw nothing - no paws, no legs, no wolves. The area behind
the car was open ground for a considerable distance. He said it was as if the wolves had just disappeared.
Grant went a few hundred feet down the road which ran to the left and suddenly saw
a white wolf about ninety feet away inside a fenced enclosure. Assuming that this was one of the previous wolves
he was bewildered because the enclosure could only have been accessed by running right past Grant in full view - only
this hadn't happened.
At this point I asked if there could have been a third white wolf. Grant conceded the possibility,
but quickly added that it looked exactly like the previous others.
April 25, 2006