David Bruce: Animals Anecdotes

As a teenager, author Gary Paulsen was the favorite victim of a bullying street gang. Once, as he left his job at a bowling alley late at night, he tried to find a new route home by leaving from the roof. As he climbed from the roof into an alley, he stepped on a ferocious dog. Frightened, he threw the dog half of a hamburger he was carrying, then he ran from the alley—right into the hands of members of the bullying street gang, who immediately started to beat him. Suddenly, the ferocious dog jumped out of the alley and began biting gang members. Gary gave the dog the rest of his hamburger, and after the dog bit the gang leader in another encounter, the gang left Gary strictly alone. (Eventually, Gary found the dog, now friendly to everyone except Gary’s enemies, a new life on a farm.)

Fans often get on major-league players, managers, and coaches. Usually, the pros ignore the hazing (they are too busy hazing the opposing team to listen), but occasionally a fan will go too far. Once Danny Murtaugh got up close and personal with a heckler and said to him, “When I was a youngster, I lived on a farm. We had a jackass on that farm that just wouldn’t do anything. One day I really gave that jackass a beating. My father heard the jackass hollering and came to his rescue. Then he turned to me and gave me a good lacing for what I had done. His last words were: ‘Someday that jackass is going to haunt you.’ And you know, up to now I never did believe him.”

Actor Patrick Macnee had a chance to display his riding ability in the Avengers episode “Silent Dust.” He actually rode the same horse that Sir Laurence Olivier had ridden in Henry V when he made the speech “Once more into the breach, dear friends.” Then, the horse was two years old. At the time of the filming of theAvengersepisode, the horse was 22, but still wonderful. Diana Rigg also rode on a horse, but during filming she confessed to Mr. Macnee that she had never been on a horse until the day before yesterday. When he asked what she had done the day before yesterday, she replied, “I went and had a lesson.”

Quakers tend to try to avoid pride of ownership of material possessions, especially during meetings. Benjamin Maule (1794-1873) was especially proud of a horse that he often rode to meetings. However, some Quakers noticed that he had not ridden the horse to meetings in a few weeks, and Mr. Maule confessed to selling the horse. When they expressed surprise that he would sell a horse he was so obviously proud of, Mr. Maule replied, “I felt I should; he would [metaphorically] come into meeting with me.”

Two lions lived in a zoo. One lion was a newcomer, while the other lion had lived in the zoo for many years. Each day the old lion feasted on hunks of raw meat, while the newcomer was given only bananas to eat. When the newcomer asked the old lion why this was, the old lion explained, “This zoo doesn’t have much money, so you are listed in the zoo roster as a monkey.”

Adelie penguins share egg incubation duties equally. After the female penguin lays the eggs, she goes off on a two-week vacation of swimming in the ocean, eating, and growing fat, while the male penguin incubates the eggs and grows thin. When the female penguin returns from her two-week vacation, the male penguin goes off on his own two-week vacation. When the male penguin returns, the egg or eggs are about ready to hatch.

A crowd of Republicans was talking about the fortunes of politics. One Republican boasted that at one time, the Republican party could nominate a jackass for office and get him elected, too. Unfortunately, the Democrats now were winning elections handily. When he was asked to explain the reversal in fortunes, the Republican said, “I am inclined to think the reason is that when we had the power, we simply elected too many jackasses.”

When Anna Pavlova and her company danced Don Quixote, Rocinante was played by a real horse. Although the horse was well-taken care of, when it was made up for its role it resembled the broken-down nag Cervantes had written about. In fact, in Great Britain, members of the audience complained to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Before Ulysses S. Grant rose to a position of prominence, the union soldiers in the Civil War suffered from poor generalship. One day, President Abraham Lincoln learned that a Union brigadier general and 12 mules had been captured by Confederate soldiers. President Lincoln remarked, “How unfortunate! Those mules cost $200 apiece.”

The first performance of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah took place April 23, 1742, at Neal’s Music Hall, located on Fishamble Street in Dublin. The name “Fishamble” is interesting. A market used to be called a “shamble,” and Neal’s Music Hall used to be a fish market.

Natalie Schafer, who played Mrs. Thurston Howell on the TV series Gilligan’s Island, had a small French poodle, Fifi, as a pet. Fifi was too small to jump onto Ms. Schafer’s bed to sleep with her, so Ms. Schafer had a ramp built so that Fifi could climb into bed with her.

Obviously, the White House is very concerned about security. When Caroline Kennedy’s pet hamsters escaped from their cage, JFK’s press secretary, Pierre Salinger, announced at a press conference, “Our security is very tight, but these were extremely intelligent hamsters.”

John Gielgud once played Hamlet at the Castle in Elsinore, Denmark, where the historical Hamlet is supposedly buried. However, Mr. Gielgud reports that many people think that Hamlet’s grave is a fake, and that some people even think that buried in Hamlet’s supposed grave is a cat.

In a Boxford, Massachusetts cemetery is a tombstone the front of which is dedicated to Sarah J. Wood, who died before 1875. On the back of the tombstone is the inscription, “Here at my feet lies my dear pet cat, Tommy, Aug. 24, 1875, aged 17 yrs.”

According to the ancients, although a fox is faster than a rabbit, frequently the rabbit will elude the fox. Why? Because the fox is running for its dinner—but the rabbit is running for its life.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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