Please don’t call me a dog person; I’m not. Should you see me walking a little black dog dripping with cuteness or a big brown one lit up with love, don’t go and get the wrong idea. If you hear my voice rise to an excited falsetto proclaiming my love as I pet the aforementioned critters, don’t be fooled. I am not a dog person.
I met the big brown one first. He was attached to the girl I love, and she to him. We sat down together, Mammoth and I, and had a man-to-dog talk when he and I first began to share a home. I explained to him that I am not a dog person; nothing personal or anything, I’ve just never been a fan. I went on to explain that we could still live together and perhaps even enjoy each other’s company in some small way. I know myself, I told him, and I just don’t see my feelings about this changing.
Mammoth listened intently, nodding and blinking his understanding at me while I talked. When our talk was over, I gave him a little scratch behind the ears . . . y’know, for his sake. He enjoyed it so much that I lingered awhile, but not too long. It was easy to disengage: I just reminded myself that I am not a dog person.
In the days and weeks that followed, my hand strayed to his fur more and more often. It was deliberate at first; I wanted the big guy to feel comfortable in his new home. Then I realized one day that I wanted to see that smiley happy face that he always wore when I petted on him for my own sake. It made me feel happy too.
So there I was, petting Mammoth one day, when a realization struck me. “You have canines!” I said to him. I turned to Dawn to give her the news. “He has canines!” I said to her. Neither of them seemed surprised at the proclamation. I explained to them then, as I will to you now.
I have been mostly vegetarian most of my adult life. More accurately, I have been pescatarian for over fifteen years. I eat dairy, and fish once or twice a month, but otherwise I don’t eat meat. I’m not militant about it or anything, and I don’t care what anybody else does with their diet. I expect everyone to do what I do: eat whatever you want to eat, for whatever reasons you want to eat it. Most of my reasons are irrelevant to the subject at hand, but one in particular brings us back to the point: I don’t have canines.
No matter how much of a badass a human being is, they are highly unlikely to be able to take down game using only their face (shout out to Joe Rogan). My own lack of canines and the digestive enzymes required to break down raw meat without getting sick were a big part of what put me on the path to eating the way I do. Yet here I was feeding my new buddy little chunks of crunchy nutrients while he sported sharp inch-long teeth designed to rend flesh.
I did a little research, and decided to go get him a fat lamb chop. Google said I could cut the meat off the bone, then cook the meat and give him the bone clean and almost raw. The meat he could eat right away; the bone would give him fun and nutrition for days. The closest market was a health food store with organic meats, so that’s where I went.
The guy at the meat counter was pleasant right up until I spoke. “I need a lamb chop for my dog,” I said proudly. I pointed at the fattest one. “That one,” I beamed.
He glared at me for a moment before he moved, his happy hippie facade dropping to reveal his true judgmental nature. “For your dog?” he asked. He was clearly disgusted with me.
I didn’t need to explain that he wasn’t really my dog, but my girlfriend’s. I didn’t want to give a lecture on vegetarianism or canines or digestive enzymes or how compassion actually works. I certainly did not want to be assaulted by the uninformed opinions or frustrated spirit of some dude whose life so far had culminated in him weighing out dead animal flesh all day. “I’ll take that one,” I said again, reminding him that he had a job to do . . . and that he was no match for my hippie-looking level of judgement.
Mammoth seemed to know what I was up to right away. He knew I wasn’t cooking a big piece of red meat for me; he had never seen such a thing. After it cooked for a bit, soaking the bone with yummy (yech!) juices, I cut the meat right off the bone so he might chew on it while the meat cooked the rest of the way. Somewhere between then and the last gulped bit of lamb, I think I won Mammoth over.
I didn’t realize until then that he had won me over long since. When I thought about coming home, I looked forward to kissing my girl and petting our dog. When I thought about tomorrow, I considered him and his happiness as deeply as I did my partner’s and my own. We had a small yard, and regular trips to the dog beach in Santa Cruz were necessary at the time so he’d get his exercise.
I was pretty done with Santa Cruz when Dawn and Mammoth came to join me there. I read once that the happy Pisces moves about every seven years, and that was how long I had been in the place I had always wanted to live. I had come to know some of the area and its denizens, and I had watched both myself and them change in the time I spent there. It was nothing against Santa Cruz; it was just time to move on.
We looked online, made some road trips, looked online some more, made more road trips to look at houses, then found our home. It was perfect for our life and our business, and calling a half acre a yard does not suffice unless you call it a big yard. We were closing on the house when I thought again of Mammoth, and how much he enjoyed interacting with other dogs when we took him to the beach.
So we had a family meeting. Yes, we really have them. No, Mammoth usually does not show much interest even when he attends. This time he did, though. I explained to him that he would have lots of room to run around now, in his own space, but he wouldn’t be seeing a lot of other dogs. Then I asked him if he wanted a companion, a little sister to play with and hang out with. He replied in the positive, more than a little excited at the prospect.
Dawn’s heart was fully engaged, as always. She wisely suggested a rescue, and informed me that the SPCA is a no-kill shelter that gives you a trial period with the rescue of your choice [after an interview and a meeting with the rescue of your choice, of course – Dawn]. I think she pinched herself once or twice to see if she was dreaming, until I made it a point to remind her. “This doesn’t make me a dog person. Let’s be clear. I am not a dog person.”
Part 2 of The Devil, The Dog and The Anthology – “Moving at the Speed of Love”, goes live July 28th. For more information about the Sudden Insight Publishing anthology benefitting the SPCA, please visit www.suddeninsightpublishing.com/anthology.html