Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – November 11, 2004
Dogs Are The Best
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – November 11, 2004 – This morning dawned November gray – a crisp see your breath day. Augie and I did our rounds of the neighbourhood. My little prince of a dog dancing along at the end of his leash – his goofy grin firmly in place and his attitude full of joy.
Ziggy was already chowing down on breakfast when Augie and I left the house, so Augie had to do catch up when we got back home. I watched him attack his bowl of bickies and then sneak a drink of water mid way through. He looked over at me to see if I’d noticed and then went back to his food. When he was finished, he licked his chops, stretched and then ambled down the hallway to lie down in front of the heating vent.
With The Alphabet Boys dozing in comfort, I went off to check my morning E-mail and have a shower. I had a very busy morning of errands, a photo shoot for a new listing and then a fun lunch with Big on the Danforth. A trip to The Fruit King on the corner of Logan Avenue and then back home to finish off the day at my computer. The little computer people are still in there “watching me” in case you’re wondering.
As I was driving down Carlaw Avenue, beside Withrow Park, I pulled my car over to the curb to watch a man playing with his Jack Russell Terrier. I am a Terrier owner so I know how stubborn these animals are and what a wonderful sense of fun is inbred in their little souls. The dog was diving headlong into a huge pile of leaves, disappearing totally from sight. His owner called him to no avail, then clapped his hands and whistled. After an appropriate amount of time (determined by said Terrier) the dog would explode out of the leaves and jump into his master’s arms.
They must have played this charming little game a dozen times, as I sat in my car listening to Sarah McLaughlin’s melodious voice. Each time the dog re-appeared, shedding fall leaves as he jumped from the ground, his owner appeared to be surprised and delighted. What a sweet encounter. I couldn’t help smiling.
I put my car in gear and proceeded slowly down the street. It was a dog-walking kind of day. My next curbside stop was to watch a man strolling alongside the soccer field with a fawn coloured Great Dane. The dog was walking slightly behind his owner and periodically he would place his huge head in the small of the man’s back and give him a friendly shove. The man slowed down and sure enough he got another helpful nudge. They passed out of my vision, this man and his beautiful, big pooch. They were soon replaced by a woman and her energetic black and white Border Collie.
The dog was carrying a frisbee in his mouth and just raring to run. She walked over to the centre of the field, unsnapped his leash and let the frisbee fly. The dog stretched out flat over the grass and then leapt into the air to effect a perfect take down of the yellow frisbee. He stood there on the field, motor humming and then charged back across the grass to his owner. About ten feet from her, he was air bourne again and frisbee still in his mouth he leapt into her arms. She sprawled backwards onto the grass – totally flattened.
The woman sat up laughing wildly and the two of them had a grand tug-of-war with the frisbee. Finally, totally played out, she grabbed her dog by the collar, pulled him to her chest, and buried her face in the thick fur around his neck. They sat that way for a long time and I finally started to feel a bit like a voyeur intruding on a private moment. I put my car in gear and rolled quietly down the street to the end of the park. Woman and dog were still beautifully entangled.
On this Remembrance Day, I thought, with gratitude, about all the Canadian men and women who fought and died for this grand country, in which I live. I also remembered all the brave animals who served alongside mankind in wars, in combat and as peacekeepers. Dogs who served as guides, friends and mascots. Horses and mules who laboured as beasts of burden, birds who carried messages over dangerous lands and through treacherous conditions.
Working animals with dangerous jobs – animals who gladly went forth each day to please their masters, animals who loved their human caretakers and animals who gave their lives in brutal conditions – not of their making. Not only must we remember our war dead – to whom we owe a debt of gratitude beyond measure – we need to recall all the animals who served alongside their human partners.
Of all these creatures – great and small – dogs must surely be man’s closest ally. They guard us fiercely, – serve us to their last breath – humour us with their comical antics – nurture us without question – stay quietly with us in times of trouble – anticipate our moods and love us steadfastly and without reservation. All they ever ask of us in return is to be loved.
If you ever think you have a corner on unconditional love, and you want a touchstone to test your understanding of this God-given emotion – allow a dog to give his heart to you, and you will learn in short order whether you truly understand love or are just an amateur. If you need additional lessons, your dog will be happy to comply. Of all creatures with whom we share our lives – dogs are the best. Just don’t tell Ziggy!
P.S. – November 2014 – Ziggy the cat is still with me – older and grumpier than ever. My beloved Augie crossed over the Rainbow Bridge in 2007. These 3 goofy fur boys share my hearth and heart. Left to right – Puck – Piper – Beetle!