I saw it. I had no idea if it was a boy or a girl. That didn’t matter because I saw the condition of the creature’s life and I was touched. Deeply touched. I had to show that beast love. It was obvious that it hadn’t seen goodness in such a long time. The coat was tattered even though the fur was magnificent. The eyes were beautiful even though they held no shine. This poor disregarded life held my stare and he recognized me. I stood still. Not knowing if the cur would advance to attack or knowingly wait for the caress of my hand.
He came to me. I couldn’t go to him. I had too much fear for that. He came to me. Tentatively. Furtively. He took my hand (using his dog nose as a guide) and let me know how our first moments would be. I was to rub him. His belly. His head. I was to continue until he finally got tired of being pleased and gave me a stingy lick on the cheek. I don’t know why but it seemed like winning the lottery for me. He hadn’t selected anyone else. He picked me out from all of the people who walked back and forth in his view every day.
He stayed with me. Or rather, he allowed me to stay with him. I couldn’t see it happening but I was absolutely being led by his slightest inclination. I wanted to be the recipient of his affection. Not his need. His wants or most accurately, his desires. I would see peeks of this, here and there, and that was enough for me to stay in the fight to win him. It seemed that he had some type of perception or intuition for the moment my lips were about to form into submission. And that’s when he would bring me a favourite toy. He would sit longer than usual. He would open his heart to me and all my fears of failure would be undone. I just had to try harder.
But all of this winning and losing, again I didn’t know and I must plead complete and total ignorance, was changing my “me.” I had ceased to cry when he looked me in the eyes and turned away from my call. I no longer had the sorry feeling in the pit of my stomach when he didn’t consume the treats I had taken special care to choose just for him. Only for him. I was becoming, more and more, a creature in synthesis with him.
I’ve been to school. I know what the word “feral” means. But he wasn’t that! He never snarled. Almost never, ever barked. At heart, he was a good dog, wasn’t he? I had also listened to my grandmother’s stories. She told me the tales of the animals who came to life when humans were nowhere to be found. She’d told me about the bears who couldn’t be brought indoors. She’d told me about the lions and the wolves and they also couldn’t be brought indoors. But dogs? Weren’t they domestic? Isn’t it every dog’s life long goal to be safe, secure, inside, well-fed and warm? No. There were some dogs who loved cold freedom more than confined warmth. I just couldn’t believe it because I hadn’t seen it before. I had never met a dog who couldn’t be brought in doors. I still haven’t. I came to know that there are dogs who won’t be brought indoors and I don’t believe I wasted my time in learning this lesson