Randy’s Petting Zoo

The resident artists here in Vermont are curious about Randy and, by extension, me.  Notoriety comes to us not from our own virtue, but from love in the hearts of the beholders toward all God’s simple creatures, namely Randy and, again by extension, me.  We feel this love.  Our colleagues are a gracious and generous lot.

I am accustomed to playing second fiddle to Randy’s Stradivarius.  I am the black tie on the arm of the hot starlet on Oscar night.  I accept that even in shadow there is reflected light

While my fellow artists honor the “Don’t Pet, Don’t Feed, Don’t Distract” guide dog protocol, Many find Randy in harness simply too tempting.  They want to get their hands on him.  Self-restraint in the canine arena offends their artistic sensibilities and inhibits their craft.  In consequence, uninspired product cheats their muse, their patrons, their public and, most egregiously, their dependent children.  The entire industry faces collapse.  Or so they say.

Rather than contribute to stunted growth in a colony where uninhibited expression is encouraged, I propose an event I’ll call, Randy’s Petting Zoo, in which Randy, unharnessed, will rub elbows with the artistes.  He is a tactile body, having submitted to being mauled by small hands over at the village schoolhouse.

Randy will begin the audience with his version of the Pope wave.  Then he’ll get right into pressing some flesh. Ask him nice, he’ll sit on your foot.  Say left/right, he’ll slip you five ambidextrously.  But no rough stuff, please.  And parents, mind your toddlers—that tail packs a wallop.

Beyond satisfying Randy’s intimacy issues, this event addresses a common human need: physical connection.  Studies show that infants deprived of human touch fuss, fret and grow up weird.  So, break the cycle and join us at Randy’s Petting Zoo.  We’ll all be the better for the effort.

Jeff’s Note:  On February 21, 2013, a gathering of the clan rivaling Woodstock took place in rural New England.  Randy’s Petting Zoo, now known as RPZ13, changed the lives of many artists and one dog.

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9 Responses to Randy’s Petting Zoo

  1. William (Colt) says:

    Hi, Jeff,
    Randy’s Petting Zoo is the kind of place we should all enjoy in this roller coaster life. With Randy’s version of the Pope wave, I picture Randy in a white suit and gold crown, protected on all sides by a hoard of Cardinal dogs in cardinal red suits, before he retires for the day in his bed inside his rather tall Sistine Chapel-like doghouse, decorated on the inside with a mini-sized version of Michelangelo’s paintings. The Pope wave made me laugh out loud. Thanks.
    And Jeff, may I ask you what you see? I mean what do you physically see on your good days and on your bad days?

  2. Jan Anne Dubin says:

    Hi Jeff:

    As you know, I have deep affection for you and Randy. I wish have could have been there for the petty zoo! It is nice just to learn of it. I would vote for a similar event in Chicago upon your return! We miss you, but love learning of your experiences.

    I hope to reconnect again soon.


  3. Nancy B says:

    I love the hot starlet analogy! My hot starlet, Hanni, retired Seeing Eye dog, once stopped a hardened Chicago bus driver who stopped the bus, leaned out the window and said, “What a beautiful dog!”. Glad Randy got a petting session. Tell him there will be more after retirement!

  4. Jenny T says:

    Hi Jeff, Your story made me laugh. Working with traumatized children, I can tell you the hardest thing to say is “please don’t pet the guidedog, and anyway, it would be futile. So, after each individual or group session, the reward is a Blazer hug. He, of course, laps it up, and the children get some wonderful positive reinforcement. I would say that it was strange that both of my guidedogs have acted in this capacity, but I’m not surprised given their wisdom and kindness. As one of my young clients said, “dogs are perfect which is why they can be trusted to lead you around. It’s people that get it wrong.” How true for so many things in life, and Blazer would agree. Happy writing. Jenny and her wonderful guidedog Blazer

  5. Hi Jeff. You have a great sense of humor. I enjoy reading your posts. Keep up the good work!

    • Jeff Flodin says:

      Thanks so much for your comments. Walking through O’Hare on my return from Vermont on March 1, I appreciated the “beautiful dog you have there” greetings but not the “Here doggy, doggy, doggy” distractions. Can enthusiasm be tempered with common sense?
      And for William – I see shadows and light, Randy against light backgrounds and can tell if it’s sunny or cloudy. People look like gray blobs in a white fog. At night, I see only street lights and headlights. No print, no faces, no TV. I use JAWS and NVDA screen readers and I don’t leave home without my iPhone and my Victor Reader Stream.

  6. William (Colt) says:

    Jeff, thanks very much for your answer on what you see.

  7. bethfinke says:

    You’re home! Welcome back, Jeff. So eager to hear about all your experiences at the Vermont Studio Center. Please email me or leave a comment to one of my blog posts — I have an appointment to talk with Effie from VSC this Thursday but would love to get together with you first to get some details. I am, ahem, all ears.

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