Now with the painting sold we had enough money to splurge on the last of the Haymer Bar Mitzvahs – Morgan’s. It was slated for May 12, 2012, the day after his thirteenth birthday. His Torah portion was Emor, or the story of an eye for an eye, which, I thought, was diametrically opposed to his demeanor and to my own beliefs. It sound too much like revenge and what does that kind of behavior ever get you? I believe more in the laws of Karma; what you reap you will sow, and all that.
Donna and I were getting to be old hands at this Bar Mitzvah stuff and the nerves were under check. Even Morgan was his usual cool, laconic self and came off life a real pro. I was saddened that my parents, and even my Uncle Ellis (who had come to Jonathan’s Bar Mitzvah) was not there. But I could very well imagine they were looking from wherever they were at the time, with pride and love. Of course, my sister, Susan, my brother, Robbie and his wife, Carol, and their two grown-up progeny, Max and Emily had made if over from California. Once again Donna’s parent’s, David and Olive Smollett and their youngest daughter, Heather, flew in from Scotland. They had made it to all three – a long way to go. Even my cousin Bobby Graff drove down from Detroit. He, I was happy to say, had brought his golf clubs and we played nine holes at Forrest Crossing the day he arrived.
After the service, the party was to be held at a small restaurant in Franklin called The Mercantile not far from the square. The owner told us it was their first Bar Mitzvah, and I could believe it since, when we arrived at the place, the marquee announcing the event read: Morgan Haymer’s Bar Mitsfa. We didn’t bother to correct them and when my brother saw it, he almost fell down laughing. Welcome to Tennessee, brother.
The party, even though it was pissing down rain outside, couldn’t have been warmer and toastier inside. We did the usual routine with lifting the chair high with the bar Mitzvah boy (now a man) supported by four strong shtarkers. After he got down, other brave souls took their turn in the hot seat. Since I had a recent bout with vertigo the month before, I declined the event. I never really liked all that bouncing around anyway. It was a grand event and was declared a huge success by all, but I was glad it was over and didn’t have to go through another one. The next big celebration, I knew, was going to be a wedding (but not too soon, I hoped).
Several months later in the Spring of 2013, I had been hired by the a fore mentioned golf course, Forrest Crossing, to work one day a week on a volunteer basis as an ambassador. The main perk being that I got virtually free golf. I knew that was going to save me three to four hundred dollars a month, so it was well worth the six hours a week I had to meet and greet golfers at the first tee and smile (I am not exactly the most politically correct individual in the world, as many people will attest to). I must say that although one out of ten of the golfers were extraordinary, most of them sucked. It was painful to watch.
On my third week working as an ambassador on the first hole, I noticed the morning shift starter wasn’t there. I walked into the clubhouse and asked the young kid where the guy was, and he told me he was helping Todd, (the head honcho manager of the course) trying to guide an old, crippled dog off the course on hole number five. I didn’t need to hear anymore. I was off like a lightning bolt in my golf cart with my walkie-talkie buckled to my belt. I turned up the volume as I drove to hole five , but I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary except golfers finishing up their putts—definitely no dog. I pushed the button on the walkie-talkie and asked where Todd and the dog were. A scratchy voice came back to me sounding like the speaker from an old drive-in movie screeching that Todd and the dog were over at hole number two, the eastern-most part of the course.
I had seen a dog a few months back on the same hole when I was playing golf that looked to be in pretty bad shape. She was limping excessively and her hair was matted. I went back after my round, but she was gone; now five months later, I wondered if this could be the same dog. Was it possible?
When I arrived at the second hole, I didn’t see anything at first, so I drove the cart all the way to the raised green, then pulled the cart behind it. There they were. Todd was trying to coax what appeared to be a badly injured dog into his cart with a few hot dogs. It wasn’t working. When I looked closely, I saw that she had the same limp (only worse) as the dog I saw in February, and her markings were pretty much as I’d remembered.
I pulled my cart behind Todd’s and tried not to make any sudden moves that might scare the poor creature. As I got closer, I could see she was in pretty bad shape. Maybe she was hit by a car on the interstate since it bordered the hole on the east. There were workers repairing the road a few months ago, but they had finished in April. Since she didn’t look emaciated, I figured it was possible that not only the neighbors, but one or more of those workers had been feeding or taking care of her—maybe not. I knew that dog couldn’t hunt.
I tried to help Todd guide the dog back to the clubhouse but she kept moving away from us in large circles and staying close to the two bunkers on the north side of the second green. She obviously was afraid of the human animal (who could blame her?). There was a tournament starting in less that half an hour and Todd was getting antsy because he knew the dog had to be moved as soon as possible off the field of play. Then I had an idea. I needed a rope or a leash, but since none were immediately available, I took the black strap used to secure the golf bags to the cart and removed it from its riggings. It was held in place by two plastic fasteners—the kind you might see on a Toyota or Honda used to fasten the carpets to the floor and when stretched out measured about six feet long. At first, I tied a slip knot at the end of the strap and then eased it over her head and pulled the makeshift rope gently. Not liking that one bit, she wrestled her way out of the knot in no time. I knew the only way I was going to get her into the cart was to tie a slip knot in the middle of the strap and have both hands free to pull the knot tight around her neck.
I told Todd to get his cart ready and to flank her from the left while I tried to guide her towards him. I crept up behind the dog (who was now in the bunker), and stroked her head with the loop of the strap trying to ease her worries. When the right opportunity arose, I slipped the strap around the area between her neck and chest and then pulled. On the count of three I was going to lift her in. All Todd had to do was stay close to her to prevent the poor dog from missing her mark. One…two…three…I pulled her up in less time than it takes to say Constantinople, and she was on the floor of the passenger side of the cart. Todd drove her back to the clubhouse with me running alongside so she wouldn’t be tempted to jump out.
Todd was having trouble getting the dog,(which looked like a mix of German shepherd and Blue Heeler, or Australian Shepherd) out of the cart, but luckily someone had brought out a couple of hamburgers and had broken them up into bite sized pieces. Todd put them onto a paper plate and tried to inch it back towards him while she nibbled, but every time she got close to the edge she would freeze. I knew what I had to do. Sneaking up behind her, I gave her a gentle tap with my right foot and she took the plunge and was now on the ground. Todd said, “Jeez, Haymer, you have no second gear.” I said, “Sometimes you have to act and not dilly-dally around.”
In less than five minutes I was guiding the dog through the double doors of the clubhouse, through the pro-shop and into Todd’s office which was located in the back of the pro-shop just past the Nike and Callaway golf club displays. Todd followed us into his office and asked me if I knew anyone that had a cage. I thought for a moment and then a light bulb went on in my head. Mark and Ashley, my neighbors across the street who had a small farm with goats, donkeys and chickens (not to mention dogs), would have one. When I reached Ashley on the phone, she said she would be glad to bring the cage and a decent sized leash by the golf course. What a sweetheart!
While Todd was in his office with the dog, I went down to the first tee and assumed my post as the Starter for the tournament. While on duty, I had a good view of the parking lot and was keeping a watchful eye for Ashley to pull up in her black Ford truck. About half an hour later she arrived and I helped her unload the cage and carried it into Todd’s office.
After the golfers teed off, I had about six or seven minutes until the next group arrived at the tee giving me a few minutes to come upstairs and check in on her. She seemed to have calmed down and was drinking water and eating the remnant burgers from the clubhouse restaurant. I had never heard her growl or bark, but I could still see that she was a bit skittish. She did give me a lick on the hand after I heedfully stroked her behind her one floppy ear, Todd remarked, “She really seems to like you, James. They’re calling you ‘the Dog Whisperer’ around here now.” I smiled, thinking, if he only knew.
Of course it was Sunday, and after calling all the animal shelters and rescue hot lines we knew she would be spending the night inside the cage in the middle of Todd’s already cluttered office. She could do a lot worse, especially after what she has been through. Don’t forget, this dog has been out there a long time; at least five months that I know of, and had survived. She needed someone to get her to a vet or the animal shelter as soon as possible. That would have to wait until Monday, though.
Monday morning arrived without incident and she was holding her own, and by noon Aileen (I had named her that because of her pronounced lean) was being transported in Mark and Ashley’s cage to the Williamson County Animal Shelter in Franklin. They said they would have to keep her there for nine days before she could be ready for adoption. At least the tested her for any diseases and de-wormed her, but they said that her injuries, although not initially fatal, were serious. I would visit her every day and take her out on a leash for walks. I knew nobody in their right mind was going to adopt Aileen, but I couldn’t let her be put to sleep. I knew one person who could save her. Who in the world do you think that was going to be?