We also have some pets who are almost family.  Ralphie, a Boston Terrier, was born in 1988; he's about the smartest dog I know.  He can bounce a ball on his head, get it onto his back and run in a circle while keeping the ball there.  He picked this up from watching Benn and Andrew practice soccer in our back yard.

Ralphie is almost totally deaf now and fairly blind; he also suffers from arthritis, but he still likes to run and play.  Ralphie has an understudy, Hamilton, the Rat Terrier, who was born in April of 2000.  (Update:  Ralphie died, and we buried him in our back yard near the lake on December 12, 2004.  A granite monument with an "R" on it marks the spot.)

Hamilton hasn't mastered soccer yet, but he sure is good at digging up moles.  Recently, I placed some leftovers on top of a stack of firewood, where none of our animals could reach them but the cat.  As soon as Hamilton went outside, I noticed that he picked up the scent of the food and made a bee-line for the wood pile.  A bit later, I looked out and noticed that he was trying to climb the pile, but a particularly large, protruding log was blocking his way.  He simply did not have the dexterity to climb out and over that log.  Then I looked again and noticed that he was standing on his hind legs, on top of some logs, stretched up, with his mouth on that log, biting and pulling, first one side and then the other, slowly dislodging it from the stack.  When the log was almost free, Hamilton paused, pulled one last time and jumped away as the log came out and rolled to the ground.  He then climbed right up and leisurely enjoyed his meal.  Does that mean that dogs can reason?   What would Hamilton say if he could talk?

Hamilton Six Years Older and Showing it with his White Face

Hamilton is a crafty dog and has trouble understanding his place in the world.

And here is Sandy's cat, Edgar.  He is our alarm clock: everyday just before daylight, Edgar pounces on Sandy to wake her up.  He really is a gentle fellow in spite of this photo.

Edgar's hobbies include watching birds from inside our screened porch and lying by our water garden watching the fish.


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