Friday, September 17, 2010

Brutus and the Bear--The World from my Balcony

A couple of weeks ago, I saw my neighbor Tony head out with his large dog Brutus for a morning walk. Tony wanted to turn either left or right down the sidewalk. Brutus didn’t.

But Brutus is about the most even tempered dog I’ve ever seen. He didn’t bark or growl or anything. He just refused and stood there. He wanted to cross the street to take his early morning pee on the corner of a retaining wall rather than take that pee anyplace else.

So what did Tony do? He walked across the street and waited patiently while Brutus lifted his leg and did his morning business. Then they walked down the street together. Brutus with his curled tail high and waving from side to side, Tony ambling with him. Just a couple of “guys” on their morning rounds.

Carolyn has known Brutus since he was a tiny puppy. She’s always referred to him as Mr. Puppy and not the more regal title he is known by in his own home. This also comes from the day when he greeted her by rearing up with each front paw on one of her shoulders promptly knocking her on her behind.

Brutus lives a life of being cared for by a loving family. The family is “Brutus and his Humans” for they belong to him more than he belongs to them. In addition to Tony there are 4 females in the household, the youngest about 11. His “girls” take him out quite often and he walks proud with them rarely tugging at the leash—for when he does, whoever is holding the leash is going for a ride, he’s that big and strong. Woe be unto anyone who would threaten any of his humans. We’re sure that Brutus, who’s starting to get up there in age, would tear them apart in defense of his family.

Brutus will even suffer the indignity of getting a bath out in the open when he looks like a long suffering derelict being scrubbed and rinsed. But, he always seems to be just a bit prouder of his clean, glossy coat with just a bit of extra swagger on his next sojourn.

On the other side of us lives Bear. Now Bear has his own yard. But he basically lives inside a 3 x 2 large “pet carrier” sitting on the front porch. And his yard—well from about April on, it’s dirt and sand. In the “rainy” season of December & January the yard turns green and by February it’s green—but overgrown to a height of about 2 feet with trails worn in it from the limits of the rope used to tie Bear to his yard. At least when there’s grass the feces left in the yard for weeks on end are hidden. This time of year they cover the ground. It’s not Bear’s fault. It’s that his “human” just flat out doesn’t pay any attention to him.

Bear will come dancing out to the end of his rope wagging his tail and barking (a friendly bark) when skateboarders come down the sidewalk or sometimes when people are walking. Occasionally, his bark and end of rope dance causes shrieking (I love it when teen boys are the ones shrieking like a 12 year old girl scared of a spider). Come on kids; check his body language and tail. He wants to say “hi” and make a friend.

To me, Bear is lonely and could really use a friend. I have often wished that I knew his “owner” and could take him out on walks to explore the neighborhood. There have been a number of times when I’ve made it a point to grill up some steaks with bones (like a t-bone or bone in rib eye) and then made it a point to leave plenty of meat on the bone so I could toss it to Bear for a treat. I swear, that the first time I did that he didn’t know what to do with it a first. He sniffed it suspiciously several times then ignored it. Until later, after dark when I could hear him crunching on the bones. I’ve even bought him rawhide chew bones for Christmas and tossed them to him.

All dogs deserve at least a little bit of love. But unfortunately, many is the time when I have seen his “human” come home and walk right by him saying nothing, not even delivering a scratch behind the ears and disappear inside his house ignoring the welcome home greeting that Bear was trying to provide. What a jerk.

I’ve wondered about this dynamic many times. If his “humans” are out playing and Brutus is left out, he’ll let them know with a loud bark that says “Hey! I know you’re doing something fun and you’re not including me! What’s up with that?”

And Bear dances at the end of his rope. Sometimes, Tony and Brutus will stop so that Brutus can go over to Bear and they can say “hi” but doing that decidedly male dog thing of sniffing noses and butt thing. Then Tony and Brutus continue their walk while Bear looks forlornly after them as if he would dearly love to join them.

So what’s the point to this? Well there are a whole bunch of different twists that can be put on this allegory. I'll let you come up with your own.

Suffice it to say, Brutus is part of a family and loved. He takes care of his family and would defend them to his death. Surprisingly, I think Bear would do the same for his family—whoever they are. Brutus is content in his family and belongs. Bear is content too for he knows nothing else but yearns for more. Like so many, he has much more to give. And if I had to choose between the two, I guess I’d choose the Bear.

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