I grew up fearful of dogs. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them, it appeared to me they didn’t like me much. Dogs, at school and in the neighbourhood, often attacked me. Yes, they smelled my fear.
The worst situation involved a big sheepdog charging out from behind a brush fence, tore off the rope leash restraining it to maul little ole me. A tetanus shot, blood-drawn bite marks on my chest and a ruined tee shirt summed up that particular episode.
I met Brandy as a pup. It took me a while to feel comfortable with her, in fact probably a year or so. Even though a pup, she was a jumpy one, as I learnt was common with many dogs.
As I gradually took on more responsibility for caring for her, plus the daily walks/runs, I began to understand why people could be effusive about dogs. My wife and I have this joke that she will gush over every dog that passes and I’ll fuss over every baby. Seriously, it’s like Fi has a special dog-tracking sensor. She’ll notice them from miles away. Pity I didn’t possess that talent in my youth as it may have prevented some of my scars.
But it was when I took a sabbatical to write Angelguard that my bond with Brandy began to increase. She would lie by my side as I wrote each day. When it was time for lunch or for a walk she’d nuzzle up to my lap to remind me. She got used to those moments of exhilaration when I cracked what I thought was a good scene or the yells of frustration when the words were just not coming out.
Over the course of the next nine years that bond tightened and my love for her, well you know, gushed as a parent does for a child.
What amazes me about dogs is their willingness to serve and love selflessly. I still find it fascinating that “dog’” is an anagram of “god”. Did God give Adam a particular nudge when it was this animal’s turn to be named? Dogs possess a natural selflessness and empathy that we humans struggle to express.
Whether it’s comforting you when you’re not well, or being able to size up other dogs and humans on approach, I’m in awe of God’s creation. Many a day has passed when I wish I possessed their perceptiveness about others, human or dog.
Brandy was 15 and increasingly struggling with arthritis. Having consulted the vet who knew her well, we agreed it was time to let her go. Fiona and I were fortunate to have been able to determine the time and so our grieving commenced ahead of her passing.
On the day she passed I was struck how quickly it was all over. One minute, she was alive and happy. Sixty seconds later, she was gone. Life is simply a series of moments.
We’ve discovered the wonders of the dog park. Brandy wasn’t dog-friendly so this time around we wanted to ensure Beanie would be. Five minutes from home is a football oval converted into a fenced in dog park. Every afternoon before nightfall it is overtaken by large numbers of dogs of all shapes and sizes who meet up for their daily fun. Some owners take the time to do their own exercise, conduct business over the mobile, or simply catch up with fellow neighbours to talk everything canine.
This is community: people with a common interest mingling to share and care. We swap each other’s dogs name before we introduce ourselves. They may be an international footballer or a prominent businessperson but at the park that’s inconsequential. What binds us is a common love for … our dogs.
What amazes you about dogs?