The Panhandler

He was not your typical beggar standing at a mall entrance or lurking around the local ATM waiting to prey on an unsuspecting customer. No officer would be dispatched to “move him along” as his territory varies and he intimidates no one.

His hair, though a bit unkempt when wet, was clean. There were no dark hollows of an addict; indeed his brown eyes were clear and bright.

He held no sign asking for money, nor could he claim that he was homeless, yet he made his intentions clear…he was looking for a handout.

We first met him early in the week. It was near dusk and he was loping along the side of the road.

Always with camera in hand, I said to hubby, “Slow down. I want a picture.”

“You won’t get him,” he said. “He’s on a mission.”

“I don’t think so,” I replied. “Look!”

As we pulled alongside, “Rusty” dropped down on all fours in the tall grass and didn’t move.

“Something’s not right with him,” my husband said.

“Do you think he has rabies?”

“Could be, but he doesn’t look bad. He actually looks pretty healthy.”

We watched him for a few minutes. I took a few pictures, delighted by his cooperation but sad to think that it might be because he was sick.

Our next evening’s ride found him in approximately the same area. A car had pulled over to watch him and he seemed quite animated, yet appropriately cautious as people leaned from the windows to get a better camera angle.

We could see a trend developing. . .

On the third evening, we left for our ride armed with one of Shamus’ dog biscuits.

“I doubt we’ll see him again,” hubby stated.

“Just drive slowly. You know his MO. He could be anywhere from here on up to Second Lake.”

I had barely uttered the words when there he was, on the opposite side of the road, crouched amongst the clover. I would have missed him were it not for his dark eyes and nose.

As we crept past, hubby caught him in the rear view mirror. “Hey, Pam. Here he comes!”

Rusty sprung into action as soon as we slowed, crossed over to our side and trotted toward our now-stopped car.

But wait! Another car spotted him and pulled up behind him. He turned and was now presented with a dilemma. Who had better treats?

He back tracked to greet the new arrivals but quickly realized there was nothing tempting so he turned his attention back to me.

I broke the dog biscuit in two, waved it at him enticingly and threw it into the tall grass as he approached. I hurriedly followed it with the second half.

With nose to ground, the panhandler located the delectable offering and bounded off into the woods to enjoy his evening treat.

How does a wild animal learn to beg, we asked ourselves? He likely learned by accident, but hubby has another theory.

Three years ago, a litter of three kits and their mother frequented the boat launch on Second Connecticut Lake. Mom often accepted handouts from the anglers and visitors. With three little mouths to feed, I’m sure it made her life easier.

He thinks she taught her children well. Or did she? pick me
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2 Responses to The Panhandler

  1. Loved this, I had it in my mind you were talking about a moose, but you fooled me. What a great picture too, foxes are beautiful. I miss NH very much.

  2. Helen says:

    This is so beautiful with the music of the wild and the narrative.
    Thanks for brightening up my day. I too miss N.H., especially the proximity to nature.

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