Tag Archive: Patches


Year 11 Day 45

Some images stay in your head forever.

I think I will always remember WildDog, sitting on the ground next to the snowfield I teleported in for the Gather, with Patches’ head in his lap. I knew she was failing, but she so obviously wanted to go with WildDog that I didn’t even think to object. I don’t think WildDog encouraged her to overdo, it, either. It was just that her time had come.

Death is nothing new or strange to the children of the People, and WildDog looked up at me with tears running down his face, but with complete understanding that his companion was gone. “She just laid her head in my lap and died,” he said.

“She was old,” I told him. “I think she hung on to see you again, and I believe her last moments were happy.”

He looked down at Patches’ head, and gently stroked her half-bald ears. “Can we bury her?” he asked. “Or is that just for people? Because she’s sort of people too.”

Yes, the People buried their dead, but my own people teleported their dead into the sun. I couldn’t manage that; my esper skills weren’t up to it. But I could wait until night fell and send her body toward the stars, and that somehow felt right.

So I told WildDog to look for Patches in the stars, where she would be guarding him as she had done since his birth.

Year 10 Day 126

There are times when I wonder if I’m even as smart as some of the People.

When they are not here, I swim for exercise. Mostly I go to the salt lake, though it’s a little warm this time of year. Certainly not the lake by my home; it’s far too good a habitat for crocodiles. Yes, a warnoff would protect me, I think, though they don’t have much brain to affect! But I do not want to set a bad example for the children of the People, and I have implanted in Patches’ mind that she should never swim in or even drink from the lake.

So I’ve been taking Patches for long walks, and while I am keeping in as good condition as I can expect, my feet are killing me. I don’t think I have the genes to grow the kind of tough soles on my feet that they seem to take for granted.

This morning it finally occurred to me. Patches can swim; all mammals can. The crocodiles in the local lake make it unwise, but there is no reason at all I cannot take her with me to the salt lake and let her exercise by swimming with me. There are no predators in the salt lake, and as long as I implant in her mind that she should not drink the water she is swimming in, she should get plenty of exercise.

This morning I tried it.

I wore her out pretty quickly, and had to cut my own swim short. But there is a little fresh-water pool, too small for crocodiles even if the bottom weren’t visible, fairly near the shore of the lake and draining into it. We took a brief dip in that to wash the salt off both of us before teleporting home in time for lunch – a very small lunch, in Patches’ case. This schedule leaves my afternoons free for exploring. I think I may fly all the way north, and determine if the drift ice extends to the pole.

I should have looked at Patches when I felt how heavy she was on my feet.

She is only marginally self-aware, but she is most definitely capable of learning. And she has learned that if she looks at someone eating or preparing food, while drooling slightly and pretending to be starved, she will often be fed.

Especially by the children.

Especially if there is a surplus of food, as there was this year thanks to the ice.

I managed to get across to Rainbow–I think– that too much food would make her sick, but the rest of the People—well, I am not sure who has been feeding her (probably everyone) but she looks like a stuffed hide for target practice.

I caught on when I tried to teleport her to one of our favorite walks, near the waterfall. I had to balance her mass for the teleport, and there was close to twice as much as normal. I poked her sides, and found no ribs. Further, as a general rule I have trouble keeping up with her. Today she was panting and lagging before I was tired, and compared with the People I’m still a pretty sorry specimen.

“You,” I told her, “are going on a diet. And an exercise program.”

Which means I will have to do a good deal more walking than usual myself. I wonder how the foot-bags would work, of if I could find a cooler place to walk?

Year 9, Day 102

How long do wild dogs live?

It’s been almost nine years since I rescued Patches. For much of that time, she has been my only constant companion. Oh, Giraffe used to borrow her to help him hunt. But Little Gnu and Rhino didn’t want her around, so I took her exploring with me.

This past year Rainbow has felt much safer with Patches’ nose and eyes to warn her of trouble when she is gathering, though I have assured her that the warnoff that I insist she wear makes that unnecessary. But the area I was exploring at the time was so hot and dry that I thought Patches was better off with Rainbow, and later I didn’t want to risk her being found by the northern hunters. So I hadn’t paid her much attention until the People left.

I knew she was getting a little fat; Rainbow insists on giving her treats. But it wasn’t until this morning that I noticed that she was a little lame when she first woke up. Had she strained something?

I needed to replenish Rainbow’s meat store, and Patches seems to enjoy these scavenging trips so I teleported her with me to an area with dense herds of game and several prides of lions. She stopped limping as she warmed up, and I decided she had just gotten into an awkward position while she slept. But this evening she seems stiff again.

I know it’s not uncommon for the older People to be stiff when they first get moving in the morning, and those really old sometimes stay stiff all day. Could Patches be getting old?