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February 20, 2007
She came with the crate she'd been in since her rescue, a four month old shepherd-husky mix. Her mother had been swept away in the flood, leaving four puppies behind. We're naming her Mardi Gras, Corinna said. Great name for a dog from New Orleans. Immediately she was just Mardi.

Mardi was terrified of everything. She wouldn't walk, for instance: if you set her down on the floor, she just stood there and trembled until her new mom took pity on her and picked her up, no mean feat: even at four months, that was a big dog to carry. In Corinna's lap or in her crate with her blankets, those were the only two places Mardi felt safe.

Soon she decided that she did want to be friends with Dancer, the saintly dog of the house, who is now a senior citizen. Dancer was underwhelmed, but Mardi missed her littermates; she wanted Dancer to play with her and nuzzle her, wanted Dancer to nap with her. She was willing to go outside in the back yard if Dancer was with her, and even ran around and around Dancer in circles, hoping to get up a game of Chase. Dancer held off as long as she could and then succumbed, accompanying her new charge in her adventures with a tolerant air.

Mardi remembers the hurricane. The sounds of summer cloudbursts, the howl of wind sent her scurrying into her crate, where she huddled and shook and cried until it was over. In the kitchen at the start of one storm, she was afraid to make a break for it to the den, where her crate was, choosing instead to huddle and cry under the table. At those moments, even now, her mommy looks into her lovely eyes at fearsome memory, and makes soothing noises. Mardi is content to burrow into Corinna's lap until it's over.

But if Mardi is frightened by things that do not frighten us, she also has courage and fortitude where others don't. Well, we found the husky part of Mardi, Corinna said the other day when it snowed. We took her outside and she just wouldn't come in. Ran around and around in the snow for more than an hour. She howled like a wolf and dug herself a tunnel. She was right at home.

I don't believe they get a lot of snow in New Orleans. Mardi was right at home in some other place, a place to which she's never actually been, her primordial husky home. Scarred by a hurricane so that she is scared of a rainstorm, she nonetheless embraces a blizzard. Animals are surprising sometimes, brave in unexpected places. So are people.

It's Mardi Gras in New Orleans today, and they say the hotels are full. Spend a lot of money, folks -- the livelihoods of some very brave working people depend on it. And laissez le bontemps rollez.
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