Our dog Bixby is an endlessly cheery example of what is possible in a life, canine or otherwise. Eight years after his rescue, what one sees is a timorous, yet happy-go-lucky border collie mix who, moments ago, was standing doing his usual begging for a treat. You can imagine the general stance. A foot raised in anticipation, his little tongue going around in imaginary tasting mode. 

And this is where we usually run into trouble. Bixby is too frightened to take a treat directly from my hand. Being in a wheelchair, I don’t have a lot of options except to proffer a treat in my fingers. We usually compromise. As I get my hand close to his mouth, he backs away, and I drop the morsel on the carpet. By the way, it has to be carpet. Bixby, posttraumatic creature that he is, will not eat on wooden floors.

But today I saw a change. I held out a piece of freeze-dried salmon (our surviving dog and cat go only for the high-end product), and Bixby took an authentic lunge. I was startled. He just doesn’t do this sort of thing. But who knows what sort of thing anyone does? Furthermore, I was startled by the relative aggression. Oh, this was actually mild aggression, more assertion. Still I wasn’t ready for it, and I was reminded that I may not be ready for my own. But this is what life requires, what it takes to get anything done – a lunge, a snap, and, yes, a bite.

In short, I am now in biting mode myself. This very afternoon I intend to bite off bits of the nation’s railway problems. I am going to move on to the Edinburgh Festival, biting off as much as possible. Doubtless here I will bite off more than I can chew. In fact, the Festival experience will very likely chew me up. So be it. What a way to go, I say. It has been 10 years since I visited the annual madness in the Scottish capital. My wife had died months before, and I was still somewhat dazed, not to mention lost. So it was as good a place as any to be in 2009.

In that era, I stayed with thousands of others at the Edinburgh University residence halls. That’s what people do, booking accommodation where they can. We took cabs and buses into the center of town to see the various performing arts events. The Romanian State Theater did its avant-garde thing in a hanger at the airport. Never mind. I was 10 years younger then. And Bixby was barely out of puppyhood. It never occurred to me that the two of us would ever meet. Or that I would marry his adoptive mommy. Life, it turns out, turns out rather splendidly.

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