Column: Codger is not giving in

Cranking up for the approach of Christmas and the New Year, which sometimes can seem like an onrushing caravan of desperate cheer, Codger has been replaying the joyful buzz of a terrific Thanksgiving — 16 people! Five days! Youngest grandchild wins a Turkey Plunge prize in a squid costume! — until a pit bull squeezed under a fence and attacked Cur II.

It was a reality check, a stuff happens moment. It led Codger to more complicated reflections on this dwindling year, which has been a hard one on the country and the planet. Divisive politics, uncertainty, criminals with security clearances, climate change.

Not to mention the normalization of fake news, a plague so pervasive that it spiraled all the way down to Dan’s Papers and the dopey coverage of a Christmas tree fire on Shelter Island that never happened.

Even Codger, who has been accused of insensitivity, was disgusted. Those of us who think we live in paradise know what recently happened to people who actually lived in Paradise. It’s a fiery enough world. Always something. Do we need to raise anxiety levels?

Nevertheless, there have been plenty of fine personal moments. Codger walked his first Shelter Island 5K, finishing 227th of 252 male entrants, leaving him lots of room for gainful improvement.

We all need happy goals. It also helped get him in shape to trail Glenn Waddington for 7.4 miles in 5.10 hours along the coast from Hay Beach to North Ferry. It was part of the Historical Society’s movie version of Glenn’s epic odyssey with Callie Atkins-Smith in which they walked 83.41 miles around the Island in 41 hours and 20 minutes over 13 different days.

What fun!

And then, last August, Codger and Crone were joined by Apollo, a 6-year-old pure bred, apricot-colored standard poodle known here as Cur II (or Cur-ly, as Crone, who brushes him, likes to say). The immediate circumstances were sad — one of Crone’s childhood friends had asked on her death bed that she make a home for her best friend — but the dog, once he felt comfortable, was a wonderful addition, elegant and merry and a terrific ball chaser. He was kind to grandchildren, even those who looked like squid.

LOIS B. MORRIS PHOTO Codger’s and Crone’s new housemate.

Thus, the events of last week have not yet been disclosed to the squid, also 6. This is what happened, adapted from Crone’s Facebook account:

“He was attacked by a pit bull two nights ago as I was walking him at nightfall in HiLo. The dog squeezed out from under a closed automatic metal gate and latched onto Apollo’s throat and wouldn’t let go. I screamed and screamed for help but the people in the house (it was lit) didn’t respond. After about five minutes, which felt like an eternity, a young man appeared from a house in the woods across the road. He was able to kick the pit bull to the ground (though she still didn’t let go of the shrieking and crying Apollo) and stepped on her neck while I stepped on her abdomen — and the dog still fought! The young man — James Bevilacqua, whom I now call my fairy godson — called the cops, who appeared after about another five minutes. When the cop leashed the pit bull, she let go of Apollo and was friendly enough. I walked away a bit to get Apollo out of view. The owner came out finally, perhaps to check on her dog — she’d been on the phone, she said, and was unaware of the commotion.

“Apollo didn’t appear to be hurt, just very subdued — but we later found a puncture wound, and the vet found more when going through his overgrown coat — two on his throat, more on his flank, plus other bloody areas. He told us it’s lucky Apollo has loose skin and the bites didn’t get a major vessel. And yesterday I found myself with a sprained finger. But all is better today. Apollo’s on painkillers and antibiotics and I’m trying to focus on the magical appearance of my fairy godson — we should all have one — rather than the terror of being absolutely helpless.”

Codger has been thinking about the resilience of Crone and Cur II in getting past a bad time and finding hope in the help around the corner instead of giving in to the paralysis of helplessness.

Codger thinks the wisdom of Crone will be his mantra for next year, when the spirit and better angels of this holiday season will make us all great again, when the Town Board will fulfill its promise to begin implementing the superb plan for community housing it heard last week from Mary-Faith Westervelt and Michael Bebon, when ticks, climate deniers and assorted nit-twits will be defeated.


And a Merry Christmas after all.