Ziggy, Rusty & Spider
I may as well get it out in the open. No use in trying to hide it.
I have a first born...
Sir Zigfreid. His name means victory, protection, peace, safety. Like Zorro's, his mask says much the same. He lurks in the shadows, he scales 10-foot banyan trees in seconds, and his mask always matches his suit. He's the King of the Jungle -the barrier island jungle, that is.
When Ziggy was born we lived on a riverfront in Cocoa beach, a subtropical jungle that's part of the barrier islands of Florida. As a kitten, he'd ravish the local lizard population, wake anyone from their dreams to save them from the monster under the covers (their feet?) and romp with pretty much any animal or object that could keep up with his energy. Most cats and even kittens ran out of steam before he was even starting to slow down. He used to slink on the dock, wait for roaming manatees and swat them with his tiny paws as if he was even close. For him, he was. He traveled near and far to other yards and other streets, but he always came back to eat from his trough and sleep in his throne. In the scheme of his reality thus far, he was on top of the world.
Lucky for him he got a crash course in being the top dog. He was about to be in the big league.
And a second born...
King Rusticles of Brevard. You wouldn't think 100 pounds of pure love would intimidate the King of the Jungle would you? Well, when 10-week-old Rusty came to our family he only weighed 15 pounds, he packed a pretty solid 100 pounds of love and yes, he intimidated Mr. Hot-Shot Zigfried.
Apprehensive of Rusty, Ziggy would pull his standard maneuvers --hide behind a corner and pounce when it was least expected, push random things off counters onto his unsuspecting head, bat his tail from behind the protection of a pillow. It took him only a matter of two weeks to realize Rusty's 100 pounds of love were much heavier than his 15 pounds of muscle and fur. They became buddies. Rusty inherently could gauge how much play-oomph-force to use with Ziggy, a much smaller, more fragile creature--the same way he knows not to be rough with puppies or children.
Rusty is and always has been huge. It took him a while to get a bearing on exactly how big he was becoming and how fast, but the way he handles his unwieldy-self now is stoic. He's got a massive block head, big lion paws and a tail that strikes like a leather whip. Coming from an American Kennel Club Champion bloodline, his parents, Roxy's Little Girl and Bruno, dressed him for success in an all white suit and orange, rusty speckles on his ears and down his back. They inherently passed on to him his remarkable manners and his brilliantly individual personality. I like to call him the Uber-dog.
At the time I brought Rusty into the family, I suppose I was going through an early mid-life crisis. I'd been financially independent since I was 15, working full time and being a student full time. I wanted a dog, but still lived under Dad's roof, even though he hardly ever did. Pops was totally anti-dog my whole life, but he'd started dating a German woman who coincidentally had a Springer Spaniel as her first born. I thought, alas, my opportunity to get my own dog. I mean, he can't keep up with his I-love-dogs-all-of-a-sudden charade for the sake of the new lady friend if he gets too upset about Rusty, right? Wrong.
"The dog goes or you do, Kid."
So, we went. Ziggy, Rusty and I carried on our journey to what I've always called "Puppy Paradise." Four acres of another stretch of subtropical jungle, nestled on a long and windy road called South Tropical in Merritt Island, Florida. We joined a family friend, Jamie Hooper, her sun, Cetun, and a pack of dogs, which for some time has been a revolving cast of characters. A beautiful oasis with two waterfronts was the perfect abode for my menagerie of animals. Peacocks, mango trees, many kinds of palm trees, mangroves, ferns, bromeliads, fire ants, foxes-- Every element of Puppy Paradise belonged here.
Ziggy adjusted quite nicely, all of a sudden having 3, 4, 5 times as much distance to cover between trees and 1, 2, 3, 4 more dogs in tow. Without much opposition from the pack of dogs, Zigfried was still the King of the Jungle, but mainly because he'd had so much practice on the riverfront back home. They couldn't catch him. They didn't have a secret passage way to the outside through the storage corridors in the walls of the victorian-style house. They had to eat one after the other and at certain times of the day, whereas he ate whenever he wanted atop a bar next to bonsais and air plants on our screened-in porch, overlooking the river. They couldn't sleep in my bed.
The menagerie went well together. With the revolving dog pack, some dogs were more pesky to Ziggy than others, but generally speaking, there wasn't anything that table tops and book shelves couldn't do for Ziggy's high ground. Rusty, of course, was always the Alpha male in the pack, but since he had made an alliance with Ziggy back when he was only 15 pounds, he still bowed down to Zig, 85 pounds later.
There did come a day when we had to leave Puppy Paradise. Gator Country was calling. It'd just be me, Ziggy, Rusty....
And an adopted third born...
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