Grant this: the love of animals turns us into the audience for Old Yeller
or So Dear To My Heart,
and there are no apologies here save to the insulted and the injured.
Chain your intellect to the fencepost and let it bare its teeth at
sentimentalism. Know you are wearing a neck chain and your teeth will not
This is a dog story, but the dog is not shaggy, he combines Rottweiler,
Shepherd, and jerk,
which makes him no more or less a mutt than most human beings.
He is the woman's dog, but I have lately adopted him to the heart.
He is not an Ours because when it comes to this dog there is no Us.
In the presence of this canine there is no human love because humans can
use their brains.
Apologies to Saint Paul, but love is best experienced by the mentally disabled,
by animals, and by their caretakers.
The dog is not community property but two dogs: he is hers and mine in
The core: to start a weekend, an evening, facing three days of only me and
him, I struck him across the shoulders with his own leash.
I can justify all day: he did not want to take his needed walk with me, he
slipped his collar when I tried
to put it back on him, then clamped those jaws onto my hand.
Although he drew no blood, for he had offered me his version of a warning,
it hurt like hell, and in a flash I envisioned a weekend of him
shitting on the living room floor, pissing in the corner, reverting to the
an Alzheimer's patient in a nursing home.
No: I envisioned myself as I was, control freak defied by an animal, and I
establish my topmost place in a food chain I descended in half a second
when I hit him, then violated another taboo of human and dog by staring
into his eyes and telling him in a soft voice not to do that, ever.
I who philosophize disgrace: I can say "you have to show the hound who's boss,"
"it was only his shoulders" (solid muscle), "I didn't hit him that hard," and
"the look on his face was shock and not anger."
Perhaps all true, but at that second I knew we'd both lost, and that is when
I put my arms around his thick Rottie neck, kissed the thick skull
beneath which are the invisible portals where the human power of amend
can penetrate--words, the vocabulary and syntax of sweetness beyond all else--
to tell him I love him, pet his back where the leash struck--and he reassumes
the collar and goes out with me not because I hit him but because I stopped
and embraced him.
What is wrong with him, I sometimes wonder? He does not thrive on
anger. He is forgiving. He is not human.
Love does that.
Kenneth Wolman www.kenwolman.com kenwolman.blogspot.com
"This is the best of all possible worlds only because it is the only one
that showed up."-- Russell Edson