|Who couldn't love a face like that?|
Photo: Jeff Futo,CC-BY-2.0
I’ve been asked by the children, not a few times, for a dog. I wouldn’t budge with my rule: strictly no four-legged creature allowed in the house. Then the kids got to the age when they started quizzing me – why the rule? I stuck to my original rationale: I couldn’t be side-tracked from parenting. That proved to be my own undoing. They had a good argument for that and a mother for a judge. I’d do my parenting thing, and they’d be exclusively responsible for the canine. They even pitched in for the budget just to keep the dog – not a cent was to come from me. Maybe it was one of those nights when you get home so tired and you have all defenses down. I should’ve called for a lawyer.
In short, I lost my case. Right the following afternoon, a black four-legged thing excitedly wiggled its irritating presence into my territory. The house was suddenly filled with shrieks and noisy footfalls. The sunshiny breakfast that I used to enjoy quietly begun to be disrupted with yelps, feeding, and running around. My privacy was invaded; I was sure I could inhale fur in the air. It didn’t help that my favourite chair got chewed on. The family had to sit again (I made sure I was alert and not harried from work) to set rules and draw territories. Things got to near-normal afterwards, but life was never to be the same again.
I’ve always been for looking at the bright side of things, even in those situations. The kids did seem to act more responsibly. They woke up earlier to do their tasks – dog walking, feeding, cleaning the kennel, keeping the air smell-free, and everything else that had to do with the dog. They learned to save for the food, grooming, and the vet. They sounded happier and funnier. I thought they spent more time hanging out together (and the dog). And that was a very good thing because I actually started to worry that they spent more time with their gadgets than with each other. Okay, having the dog had its pluses, but I still kept my safe distance - not opposing it, but not taking any part of it either.
It went like that for years; until the day when the last kid left for university. I retired earlier than my wife did. So it was only me and St. John. That’s his name.
I don’t know too many dogs. But if St. John is typical of his specie, then I can say that you can’t be alone with a dog and continue to be unaffected. That I know now.
He sprints and zooms from one point of the yard to the other and back, like it’s some kind of a mission. On the beach, he’s like a child who never tires of the water. I can’t help but smile at his spirited antics. Then he can also walk on leash behind me, as long as I pace briskly. But he can be calm and patient, too. He loves snuggling and never grows bored just sitting with me. He kisses with no shame - you can’t say that about a lot of people.
That dogs are loyal cannot be questioned. St. John would be at my beck and call. At a whistle, he’d bounce right into my sight and wag his tail. Dogs are very forgiving, which isn’t always easy for humans. There are days when I’d be away. When I get home he’d be there looking like all he’s done was wait for me by the door. Then he’d be in his childish exuberance again, settling down only to look me in the eye.
Have I turned 360 degrees with dogs out of convenience, or forced by circumstances? Well, I don’t want to overthink about that. Like with most people in our lives, maybe St. John and I came around each other at the right time and the right place.