People think they know about their dogs. They're loyal, obedient, eager to please. What people don't realize is that dogs have talents we can't begin to understand. Some of those talents might even look like magic to us.
Take my Rottweiler, Fergus, for example. The very first time I let him run without a leash, he took flight. Wings? For the birds. This big boy was more like a guided missile.
Now, I don't want to get into flight-shaming or anything like that. Fergus could fly. Your dog might have a different super power. "Lie down," for instance.
But let's get my tragic confession out of the way before I go on: I came to dogs late in life. A few of my buddies had dogs when I was a kid, but they were stay-at-home dogs. They didn't take part in the daily adventures that make childhood special.
Later on, I had a roommate who was a vegetarian, and he thought his dog should be, too. The dog himself didn't quite see it this way, as he let me know at every mealtime. I broached the subject with my roommate a few times, but the discussion always seemed to shift out of my control from physiology to philosophy. I know it wasn't the dog's fault that he pestered us at dinner, but this was right around the time that I decided I was a cat person.
Much later, when my future wife and I would go to the farm and ranch store to pick up a sack of Omolene for the horse, I met my first canine love. He was a big, black dog, a Lab, I guess, but so big in my memory that he might have been a Lab crossed on a pony. He would sit next to you and his head was just the right height for a hand rest, if you happened to need one. And I did.
After that, there would be no peace until I had a dog of my own.
I married into two dogs when my wife and I tied the knot, but they slept next to her side of the bed -- or on her side when they could get away with that. Our subsequent dogs defaulted to her. All I could do was sigh.
One of those subsequent dogs was Gus, a Rottweiler we got after a severe hail storm. All through the neighborhood, roofs needed replacement, and my wife grew weary of the catcalls from workers who stopped hammering as she passed by on her daily jog.
Gus weighed a good bit more than she did, and when she tied his leash to her belt, he'd trot alongside her, easy-peasy. The roofers fell silent at the sight of this woman with a dog that obviously meant business. That was Gus's super power. He was one serious-looking dog.
Just seeing him on a walk would make most men cross to the other side of the street. Women, children, they'd rush in to gush over Gus. If you needed someplace to rest your hand, Gus's head was there -- if your heart was pure. As a bonus for your weary hand, he had luxurious ears, ears that would put a silk purse to shame.
On Halloween, Gus would greet trick-or-treaters at eye level, three or four times their weight, with teeth as big as daggers on the scariest night of the year, and it would all turn into a hug-fest.
Hey, Gus liked me, too. But he was my wife's dog. I was just the straight man, she got all the laughs.
If you live long enough in America, sooner or later you will hear every verse in the Bible quoted -- except those verses dealing with genealogy: "Adam begat Seth… begat Enos… begat someone else and so on and so forth." These are not the inspirational verses, the ones that drive us to our better angels. They are more the verses that lull us to sleep.
But in our household, we maintained a thread not unlike the Old Testament's recitation of pedigree, although direct bloodlines rarely come up.
"In the beginning there was Dixie . . . and Dixie was joined by Honey . . . and Honey was joined by Gus . . . and Dixie passed over the Rainbow Bridge . . . and Honey and Gus were joined by Moe . . . and so on and so forth."
And so it came to pass that our second Rottweiler, Fergus, joined Sadie, two cats and a bird. At last, I had a dog of my own.
Fergus dozed at my feet under my desk, sometimes hitting his invulnerable head if he got up too quickly. When it was time to go for a walk, he'd track me from the back yard, dashing from window to window, making sure that I stayed on mission.
Because of leash laws, and practicality, Fergus never got to run free. Except for once.
A freak winter storm in North Texas laid down a thick blanket of snow over icy roads. The neighborhood's dog owners looked out the window and decided to sleep in. No pickups cruised the streets. The park behind our house belonged to the Big Boy and me.
Fergus had never seen even a light snow before, but here was a dogscape for the ages. He buried his nose in the fluff. He leaped after snowballs. He flew without wings, leaving pure white clouds in his wake.
No one else had worked up the nerve to venture outside, so Fergus and I had the world to ourselves. The stillness of the park let the snow form crowns on even the smallest branches. Fergus caught his breath, surveyed his wonderland, and he found it was good. He bowed his head one more time, then leaped and set off through the clean chill of the air, a dog transcendent.
About the Creator
Alan Gold lives in Texas. His novels, Stress Test, The Dragon Cycles and The White Buffalo, are available, like everything else in the world, on amazon.
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