Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Lost and Found

John Wilson is the guard working day shift at our facility. He’s been enjoying the company of the puppies almost as much as I, and each day he takes them from their compartments on the truck and puts them on drop chains so they can relieve themselves. Today Cassie leapt from her compartment into his arms, hitting his spectacles in the process. One of the lenses popped out and promptly disappeared into the snow. John searched everywhere for the darned thing and even asked the patrol officer who stops in during his rounds to search for it, to no avail. That was the start of a whole series of lost instruments today.

Part of the routine while working with the puppies is to take them for a group “walk” each afternoon. Actually, I walk while the puppies run amok, chasing each other across a wide parking lot and through the brush and trees in the woods surrounding my work site, bowling each over other and generally wreaking havoc through rough & tumble puppy play. Every so often I call out to them and when they come dashing over I give them some tasty treats to reinforce the behavior of coming when called.

This afternoon while out ‘run amok’ I bent over to hand Capella a treat. She took advantage of the situation to knock my cap off my head. Next thing you know she was scampering off with my cap, looking very pleased with herself. I let her dash about with it for a little bit, then called her over and traded her a salmon treat for my head gear. She seemed please with the exchange, as was I. I put the cap back on my head and we continued our walk.

It wasn’t until I had fed the puppies and gone back into the living quarters that I realized a couple of things were missing. My spectacles and one of my pair of hearing aids were nowhere to be found. Both are expensive instruments. My spectacles serve as safety glasses in addition to clearing up the blur of mature eyes. They are a wraparound style that fit almost like goggles to provide protection from flying debris on the job and from sticks, bits of gravel kicked up by dog’s feet and other foreign objects while on the trail. Made of ultra-light modern materials they are very durable, very effective, and very expensive.

Even more expensive, however, was my left hearing aid. I wear a pair of aids that are tuned to compensate for loss of hearing at specific, high frequencies. Each of my aids is tuned for the hearing loss in each ear. They are marvels of electronic miniaturization, so tiny that most people never realize I wear them. They are “open fit” instruments that don’t occlude the ear canal, and they are so lightweight that I usually don’t even realize when they are (or are not) in place. These marvelous instruments have done much to restore hearing that I’ve lost due to frequent exposure to gunfire and other loud noises, but the damned things cost nearly $1500.00 each.

I rushed through shaving and showering and headed back out to the parking lot to search for my missing parts. I back tracked to the spot where Capella and stolen my cap. Sure enough, my spectacles were lying half buried in the snow. I probably scanned the surface of the snow at that place for a good five minutes before glimpsing the tiny ear tube to my hearing aid.

With my property restored I went back to the living quarters to eat my supper before coming on duty. The news is even better, though. Just before going off duty John went out to make sure the puppies had water, and found the missing lens to his spectacles near little Cassiopeia’s drop chain. It has apparently been stepped on (most likely by a human) and driven into the snow. It had one visible scratch but was otherwise unscathed.

So, tonight we all have our normal vision and hearing restored.

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