Monday, July 8, 2013

Nice Doggie

Photo courtesy Flickr

Eschewing standard practice, I usually avoid wasting breath commenting on areas about which I know nothing. This morning’s whale and surfer story out of Australia is not to be resisted.

For years, my favorite aunt posted a New Yorker cartoon of a dowdy matron waiting at a stoplight, leaning over the large fish she had on a leash saying, “Izzum mommie’s widdle carp?”

Twenty years later, I visited a koi show, leaned over a waist-high tank, and delivered the same line to a foot-long tri-colored character who promptly bit my finger and splashed me soaking. The experience was like putting a silver spoon into a wall socket (you don’t want to know). The amused owner stood by saying, “He does that.”

Seattle’s Ted Griffin was the first person to keep a living whale in captivity. Seattle was an epicenter of heart research, and the field was curious about whale circulatory systems. Griffin invited a prominent local cardiologist, perhaps Dean Crystal, to visit Namu with a stethoscope. As the doctor was grabbing his face mask, about to wade backwards into the whale pen wearing a wet suit, Griffin, the first person ever to swim with a killer whale, said, “Whatever happens, don’t panic.”

The doctor swam toward Namu, who raised a flipper and held him under water. Just as the man was about to lose it, Namu released him and allowed him to get on with the examination.

Local cartoonist Gary Larson captured the essence of disproportion in the panel that shows two spiders at their web at the base of a playground slide. The punch line is “If we pull this off, we’ll eat like kings.” 

The surfer interviewed for this morning’s story, Bishan Rajapakse, said a whale the size of a mini-bus approached him. He wanted to relate to it as if it were a large dog. It was a friendly moment, apparently, and the surfer perceived the whale as attempting to high-five him with a flipper. The next thing he knew he woke up on the beach.


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