This will be brief and unlike my previous posts to this point. I would like to talk about something positive, something hopeful.
I am sitting here right now with my dog, me thumping away on the laptop while she sits with her head cradled in my lap, looking at me with the adoring, unaffected gaze of pure love that only dogs can give you. There is no agenda (other than, perhaps, give me a treat), no selfish demands, just the simple basics of love without any deeper expectations.
I love my dog probably as much as I love my children, as much as I love my wife. She really is an important member of our family–surely, at this time in my life, way more significant than parents and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins and all of those other once or twice removed subtextualities that I have never met.
So I want to write this as an ode to my dog M—- (even she must remain as anonymous as possible in this boiling swamp we call the internet). We adopted her at the age of three from what was the fourth shelter she had been in over the past five months. She had been adopted twice in that period and brought back within days one time, and on the same day the other. She is a big dog–stronger than me, certainly, and she has a huge appetite. But she is, in spite of this and regardless of her difficultly trusting anyone, an extraordinarily sweet dog.
Well before we got her she was raised on a farm in South Carolina where she was trained to take part in dog fights. As she grew and was handled more viciously, she began to understand what she would need to do to survive. She has scars all over her face, her chest and her front paws and a nasty deep scar on her side where the hair will no longer grow. But clearly she won her fights, or else she would be dead. And obviously she has killed other dogs in battle.
I have done my best to train her, now more than a year since we took her into our home (she was last year’s father’s day gift), and the only thing she really has a problem with any longer is other dogs. I have to tell neighbors to not bring their dogs near her because she will kill them. Some of these people put their own sense of personal pride onto their pet and say stupid things like, “I don’t know, he’s pretty tough. He’s a lot bigger than your dog.”
I try to explain that she is actually a weapon, a perfect watch dog if she weren’t so easily bribed with a treat. I say that she has killed before, that, please, I love dogs so don’t bring yours any closer. They just think I’m an asshole for saying this and sometimes tell me to go fuck myself. I just look at their dogs, smiling.
After all the brutality and misery in the world today, after the discouraging and cynical nature of seemingly everything that is happening everywhere, I just felt it was necessary to take a step back and write a love letter to my dog. . .