Sunday, March 21, 2010

Numero Bruno

One thing I have learned while writing this blog is how much I like dogs. Like many of you, I've had dogs cycle in and out of my life. The former was always more enriching than the latter. Dogs were the first pathway I took to explore unexplained thoughts and emotions. They were how I learned responsibility growing up - washing, feeding and caring for them. My son moved out of the house last week and took his dog Bruno with him. Bruno (pictured above) was with us for about four months and became one of the family. Why am I missing him so much? He wasn't my dog and wasn't with us that long.

As with dogs, I've had people cycle in and out of my life with varying effect. Sometimes with great feeling and sometimes not. I'm better now, but I have to say that sometimes I've regarded people like creme brulee; rich, tasty, and best taken in small, infrequent quantities. But dogs, never. What does this say about dogs, and more importantly, what does this say about me?

As stated before, is it that my fondness for dogs goes back to early childhood when God used our family mutt to prospect and have me discover a vein of caring I didn't know existed, then use it to bump up against a big wet nose? Growing up is growing out. Why is it that some of us read Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls (a plug) and are moved - and some of us not? Maybe with some of us, life decided to use the dogs as an outlet for emerging love and for others, life decided to use something or someone else. I guess I should be grateful. Whatever else dogs are, they're not as fattening as creme brulee.

Look at dogs' lives. Some would say they have the life of Riley. Dogs get an occasional tennis ball to gnaw. They sleep when they want, live in a climate controlled house, get steady meals, and are able to run around outside when permitted, and my favorite, don't have to work. On the other hand, they survive on the sufferance of owners and we can be a mixed bag. They are limited to one liquid, water - their entire life - get pretty much the same food every day; looking the color of landscaping bricks, tasting like buffalo chips with the consistency of #40 grit sandpaper. Construction re-bar would be easier to chew.

Their deliverance seems to be their attitude. They seem to greet all people with wagging tails and exclaim, "Life's a beach, what's to eat!" I remember one of the best parts of my life; the period when my son was growing up and was always at the door to greet me at the end of the work day, "Daddy's home!" Best feeling in the world, especially when the day fed you a steady diet of anxiety, disruption, stressful activity. Problem is, children grow up, but dogs are always there to greet when you come in the door - showing affection and gladness in greeting. Dogs grow old, but they never grow up. They provide that rare thing in life; unconditional, consistent love.

Its also amazing that there is so much agreement. Every dog I've ever talked to has agreed with me on political issues, sports outcomes, and well, life in general. Agreement without rancor involved the distaste of books over 300 pages, admiration of craftsman architecture, the genius of Alfred Hitchcock, and the glory of French Impressionism. Amazing!

And of course, like me, every dog I've ever had likes to take long walks on the beach.

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