A Quiet Week

in Lake Woebegone, Garrison Keillor’s home town, but not so much so in Chicago.  We started with a gang of housebreakers who targeted our area.  They would come to the front door; if anyone answered, they’d say they were looking for yard work.  If no one answered, they’d hustle around to the back and break in through the second story windows–they even carried ladders with them.  We haven’t seen them for a few days and don’t know if they were caught, or simply cleaned out our street and have moved on.

Two days ago, while walking my dog in the park south of the Museum of Science and Industry I came on a man torturing a dog.  I called the University of Chicago security, since they usually come faster than city cops, but they said, out of their jurisdiction.  By the time I actually spoke to a Chicago dispatcher, the man realized I was on the phone and had packed his dog up and taken off.  I feel the kind of helpless rage you feel when you haven’t been brave enough to save a small creature in need–but I knew my golden retriever and I could not get close to a man with a tortured bull dog.  I’m trying to find a direct line to the animal abuse unit at the Chicago Police so I can put it on speed dial if, Gd forbid, there is a next time.

And finally, while walking home with my dog this morning I managed to fall and impale myself on my cellphone.  Somehow neither the phone nor I broke but I am badly bruised and will be pretty gimpy for a week or two.  Meanwhile, my dog is definitely not Lassie: she thought the sight of me on the ground was hysterically funny.  She snatched my hat from my head and began barking and lunging at me, daring me to try to catch her and get the hat back.  When passers=by stopped to help, Not-Lassie tried to entice them into tug of war with the hat.


And that’s all the news from Lake Michigan.  Don’t have a catchy paraphrase of Keillor’s tagline, but you get the point.

  • Penny Thornton

    Oh dear, Sara! I do hope that you’re recovering now and feeling better. No doubt your dog thought you were just playing especially for her.

  • Poor Sara! But are we allowed to laugh just a little?

    The only people who have attempted to break into our house were the police. I’m still trying to make sense of it.

  • Shirley Harrison

    I have a golden and can easily picture this happening with her. They are usually quite useless in rescuing their humans. There are exceptions, however. My friend’s golden barked until they woke up and saved them from a fire smoldering in the walls of their house. He is a real hero dog with only 3 legs–named Tripp.

  • Oh, ouch, Sara! My old (dearly departed) golden would have lain beside me and licked my face (in fact, he did just that once when I took a tumble on the ice while feeding cows), but the Border Collie/Australian Shepherd that I have now would have done what your golden did. Sigh.
    (Loved the cartoon, though!)

    As far as the fellow torturing the dog? Makes you wish you were really VI, and packing a weapon, doesn’t it? It makes my blood boil when I see cruelty of any kind, but especially to an animal!

    (Bookwitch – stop snickering! Poor Sara doesn’t have any padding to protect her when she falls! Speaking of padding, how goes the battle with yours? I noticed you didn’t answer when I responded to your little challenge…..!)

  • Well, I’m very sorry you had that little accident and I hope you’re on the mend. As for your pooch…I can identify. We had a Golden Retriever when I was growing up. Her name was Peggy, believe it or not. She actually let some rascally teenagers steal a car from our driveway while we were away one night. We lived in a very small town in North Dakota and one of the teens was the daughter of local police chief. Everybody knew everybody there, of course. The kids were caught and confessed and said that our dog just wagged her tail at them.

  • Bag Lady, you are so right–I spent the better part of 2 days imagining that I had a Smith & Wesson and taught that monster a lesson. Animal cruelty is so sickening. A Chicago police sergeant came to me once about 10 years ago asking if I would help him write a book about it, but I couldn’t–I know it was wimpy, but the description of the abuse and the callous laughter of the human onlookers is so horrific that I couldn’t bear to touch it.

    On the lighter side, I love all the dog tales, especially Cheryl’s Peggy. Once when I was out with my former Golden, cardhu, I was knocked to the ground by a bicyclist, who cursed me for being on the lake path before zooming on. Cardhu actually left her exploration of a garbage can to make sure I was still alive–sniffed me from head to toe, then went back to exploring garbage.

    And yes, Bookwitch–you are allowed to laugh–I live to bring pleasure to others!

  • genny from jersey

    Sara, what a week you’ve had.

    There have been a rash of home burglaries in our area lately. In one case, the burglars (guys in their 20’s) actually lived on the same street and burglarized their neighbors homes. They were looking for items/cash they could use to buy drugs. Now the parents have to live with the sins of thir son & his buddies everytime they walk out of their home.

    The brazen animal abuser… There are no adequate words. I’m been to the museum of science and industry many times so I’m somewhat familiar with the area.

    Sometimes I think cellphones are the devil’s work. Guess you being attacked by one (sounds plausible right) if proof of that! Hope you weren’t too far from home when you got hurt.

  • Bag Lady, I’m forever trying. I’m really very trying. But I will always have enough padding for falling on, unlike Sara. But yes, the idea is good, and we should. You start.

  • Shirley Harrison

    I work with the golden retriever rescue and see too often how humans treat these wonderful dogs. People often tell me they can’t believe there is a need for a golden retriever rescue.

  • amanda toney

    Hi Sara,
    Just wanted to thank you for another execellent, fast read, in Hardball. I read it in one day and one night (smile). I love V.I.

  • Doug Clark

    Ms. Paretsky, I am so sorry about your week, especially the dog torture and fall. Hopefully, this will bring a little light to your day (and I’m guessing you’ve already seen it). A book just released in the US last Tuesday (December 1) titled “Talking About Detective Fiction” by renowned novelist P.D. James discusses the origins and techniques of mostly British detective fiction. However, in a chapter on primarily Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, she writes the following:

    “For me the most remarkable of the moderns is Sara Paretsky. When she created her private eye, V. I. Warshawsky, it was in conscious emulation of the myth of the solitary private eye and his lone campaign against the corruption of the powerful, but her Polish-American heroine has a humility, a humanity and a need for human relationships which the male hard-boilers lack. Her territory is Chicago, not the Chicago of the dramatic city centre or the prosperous suburbs, but the city’s southeast side, the neighbourhood of the poor who live in shanties on the contaminated marshland known as Dead Stick Pond. Paretsky creates a powerful vision of the Chicago where V. I. Warshawsky grew up and where she operates as a courageous, sexually liberated female investigator. Through her heroine and in her private life of speaking and journalism, Paretsky conducts her campaign against injustice and, in particular, for the right of women to control their lives and sexuality. No other female crime writer has so powerfully and effectively combined a well-crafted detective story with the novel of social realism and protest.” (P. D. James, Talking About Detective Fiction, pp.92-93)

    This was a very interesting and short study. For anyone interested in the craft of writing detective fiction, the book makes for enjoyable reading.

    I hope this week is going better, Ms. Paretsky.

    Kind regards,

    Doug Clark

  • admin

    Doug Clark, Thank you so much–i’m overwhelmed–PD James’ good opinion is one I value very greatly, and I hadn’t seen this.

  • Last week, at a highway rest stop, we encountered an abandoned dog. The dog had been there for 5 days. S/he wouldn’t let anyone near her, though other dogs could visit. We tried for 45 minutes. If we’d been able to get her we could’ve put her over a fence to join a pack of dogs on an adjacent ranch. We fluctuated between tears and raage at this horrible act of cruelty.


Most recent comments

Upcoming shows

No events booked at the moment.

Recent Comments


May 2018
« Mar