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For the week of Dec. 15, 1999 through Dec. 21, 1999

‘Bear,’ ‘Moostahf’ and other short takes

Commentary by PAT MURPHY


Only one thing more heartbreaking than hearing or seeing someone callously abusing or abandoning a dog.

And that is someone who adores his or her dog calling in the veterinarian to put down an ill animal.

Andrea White still barely holds back tears when talking about Bear, her big, lovable female mastiff who was so familiar on the trails around town along with Moostahf, her equally congenial male mastiff.

At 14 years old, Bear could barely withstand the devastating consequences of several strokes. So, realizing the inevitable, Andrea took Bear to the vet and eternal sleep.

But there’s more.

The morning after, in one of those gestures that confirm dogs are not only our best friends but supremely human in intuition and feelings, Moostahf sorrowfully picked up Bear’s collar, brought it to Andrea who was sitting on the edge of her bed, dropped the collar, then gently nuzzled his giant nose on Andrea’s feet, as if to say in gesture what he couldn’t say in words: "I, too, miss Bear."

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Even to this day, politicians of different persuasions concede that Bruce Babbitt was Arizona’s best modern-day governor. History in time will have to judge his place as secretary of the interior.

One reason he’s regarded so fondly was his ability to create consensus when competing interests simply didn’t seem willing to agree on anything.

And it was this sort of contentious, unyielding clash of interests that Babbitt moved to resolve involving competing demands for Arizona groundwater.

Babbitt brought together agriculture, mining, ranching and municipal interests in his conference room and demanded they stick at it until an agreement was reached.

In time, they did.

A few weeks ago while talking to Babbitt, I asked what new environmental problem faces the United States, and he promptly said "water."

Whereas arid western states once were plagued by water problems, Babbitt says it’s now a problem in traditionally rain-rich areas such as metro Atlanta, where demand is outpacing supply.

Babbitt pulls no punches about solutions, most not popular: tougher water conservation measures and, the least palatable of all, placing realistic costs on water.

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Two weeks and a few days more and we’ll know who had it right in the Great Y2K Doomsday Debate.

If electric power fails, if water pipes run dry, if computers crash, if food stocks can’t be replenished, then the survivalists who made a killing off predictions that our computerized society would stall will have been right.

But if nothing happens, and life goes on, then the doomsayers will look silly, like fringe religionists who predict the rapture and being lifted into Heaven, sell all their earthly belongings, then are left with no rapture and no belongings.

Pat Murphy is the retired publisher of the Arizona Republic and a former radio commentator.

 

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