Just got back from a routine sunset with the wolves. I cooked up their dinner, and they’re now chowing down just outside the back door on the porch. I can hear the sounds of their plastic bowls scraping atop the concrete steps with every mouthful. In a sort of sister chore, I just spent a few minutes doing the dishes, and noticed a reality pulling at my mind. Shouting. I must respect it, I must listen to it, I must obey its order to write it down. Whatever it is. Whatever it will be.
So now I’ve dried my hands, and cracked my third. Here goes. I assume it is to be a nonfictional essay, but I won’t limit it to that. Who knows? Maybe it’ll turn into a short. Perhaps I’ll even throw in an ironic twist at the end. Maybe toss in a haiku. Or a riddle. Hell, it could turn into a screenplay. Accompanied by a few pictures shot on my cell phone that I rape with Photoshop filters for a minute and a half. There’s no limit to this one. And I shall not edit.
Blogs are the best thing to happen to the stream of consciousness.
There’s something fundamental about a man’s relationship with a dog that we all think we know, and perhaps do. We feel it in our bones. In our soul, in our heart. Whether first-hand, or through culture. The Man/Dog relationship has been written about in poetry, in story, in song. It’s been depicted in graphic art. In film. It’s so ingrained into our reality that we’ve even come up with the cliche, “A dog is a man’s best friend.” And it’s true. There is nothing truer.
On this day, at this hour, there’s something very basic about my relationship with dogs that has jumped out at me. It’s not that I haven’t always been aware of it, because I have. It’s just that this realization has nudged me extra hard this evening, catching me at the perfect minute. And it’s telling me to document it.
It’s also probably wagging its tail.
As I was doing the dishes, it occurred to me that the love a man has for his dog is, at its core, identical to the love a dog has for its man:
It’s about the need to be needed.
Being needed is something every thinking, feeling soul needs. Being needed — or, at the very least, feeling needed — is what keeps us alive. It’s what gives us a reason to wake up. I suppose that’s what people feel when they become parents. The only difference is that a dog doesn’t grow up to defy you and call you a fucking asshole.
Dependency is the player here. There’s a certain music to be heard in the sound of your dog lapping up water, or licking its bowl, or crunching its biscuit. It’s a sonic reminder of the basic fact that if it weren’t for us, they’d have a serious problem.
And it goes both ways. I can’t help from believing that there’s a joy, a sensation felt outside of the human experience, that dogs feel when we’re happy. As much as I know that my dogs would literally die if I didn’t give them food and water, I know that they believe that I would die if they didn’t give me their love.
And I can’t say they’re wrong.
Kona turns ten this year, and my god, the inevitable rings louder every day. It’s been something that’s been bugging me for almost a decade. I’ve been prematurely memorializing this little angel ever since we met back in 1999. We have a history that I wonder if I’ll ever have again with another soul. As we get closer to that end, I often find myself way up in my head, questioning if I’ll ever be able to convince myself that it will be worth the pain that comes with our eternal goodbye. For now, I must trust will be.
And then there’s Vive, my little reigning man of the backyard. That monster. He’ll only be three in June, putting him nearly fifty years Kona’s junior in dog years. I’m realistically starting to consider his emotional connection to Kona, and will be thinking about taking in another mutt in the next couple years or so.
Those damn dogs. Mine in particular, and all of them in general. What would I do without them? I’ll save that answer for another conversation.