Friday, January 16, 2009

Becoming a Dog Person

We have a six year old Doberman Pincher named Kofa. We got him when he was just several weeks old and could fit in your two cupped hands. He has grown into a 95 lb black and tan, sleek and muscular dog. I was never a dog person, but early on my wife decided that she wanted a dog and Kofa is what we got. We both come from Caribbean traditions where dogs are dogs and men are men. So we don’t operate like some of our American friends whose dogs roll in their beds and on the furniture and eat off their plates and lick them on their faces and such. We don’t play like that.

Having said that, Kofa is my boy. He is not only well trained, but well mannered. He goes out and picks up the paper in the morning. At night, if it’s raining hard or too cold, he knows that I don’t want to go outside so he’ll go out by himself, take care of his business and come back. We’re tight and now that I work from home we spend our days together checking up on each other. Now, “shhhhh,” I love my dog.

I was on my way to St. Kitts for the holidays to meet my wife and daughter who were already there. We made special arrangements with friends to come to our house and take him out and spend time with him while we were gone so that he wouldn’t have to suffer the indignity of being in a kennel. So you see how far along the spectrum of dog person I have gone.

The taxi was coming at 3:45 a.m. for me to catch a 6:00 a.m. flight. Of course, I didn’t start packing and organizing until late. Around 12:30, when I was done, I took Kofa out. We walked around the corner leisurely while I was thinking about being in the Caribbean sea the following afternoon. I don’t know what he was thinking about. I called him and turned to walk back home. When I got to the stairs he wasn’t behind me. I called again. Nothing. I went back around the corner and I could see his silhouette way off in the distance several blocks away. “What!! I don’t believe this moah%#kah dog.”

I went after him calling his name and watched him trot off. I went back home, got in my car and drove around looking for him. By now it was approaching 2:00 a.m. I went back home again and was like, “Yo, you got an hour and half dog.” I said it big and bad to myself, but I really didn’t know what I would do. Could I really just leave for two weeks with him lost? What would I tell the family?

I took a shower and got dressed to leave, then got in the car and drove around again where I’d last seen him. Nothing. Now it was about 3:30. I stood on the porch facing a real dilemma. Do I stay, miss my trip and probably find him or leave, spend Christmas with my family and not know what would happen to him?

Leaving a no collar, 95 lb Doberman roaming around seemed like a death sentence. Someone would call animal control and who knows what would happen then. I would also have to explain to my wife, and probably with more difficulty my daughter, that I left him. How could I do that?

If I stayed, because of full flights, I would likely miss my whole trip. Under those circumstances, if he came back after I missed my trip, I would likely kill him. So I was leaning towards leaving, where he at least would have a fighting chance at life, but deep down I felt I really couldn’t do that.

Now it was about 3:40. I felt the anxiety physically in my chest when the taxi called to say he would be there in a minute. Just then I heard him crunching leaves as he walked up to the back of the house. I called and came around sheepishly. When I looked at him, I could tell he was probably thinking, “I can’t believe you’re going to St. Kitts and leaving me here by myself.” The combination of anger, relief and anxiety told me that Kofa is really my boy and I have become a dog person.



luvlife0702 said...

having a dog (or a pet of any kind) requires a certain selflessness i've never been able to achieve. one child is plenty to manage and feed and give medical care. i am fascinated by dog people. i've dog sat and had dogs in my house for the weekend and even in my bed (makes me some kind of dog person i suppose) but another life to be responsible for? nuhuh! that's at least one less trip i can afford a year. one less pound of mussels. and a few less oysters. but i must say you got a pretty dog.

Susan said...

You ol' softie. You've been touched by a doggie!

stacydlewis said...

Good decision bro. You would have to answer to many more people than your wife and daughter, if you left my man Kofa stranded in the ATL!!! I was raised in a part of the rural south where men were men and dogs were dogs. The current climate of pet care, particulary in urban areas, is a little beyond me. It seems as though some folks view their dogs as a some sort of fashion statement. Every dog we had was bonafide member of our family. They become part of the families collective membory. Kofa's absence would have produced a grief that would overshadow even the comforts of the Caribbean Sea, my friend. Anyone who knows you well, knows what Kofa means to you. I'm very glad that you now have a deeper sense of it. ONE