I have had six dogs in my life so far. I remember each one of them vividly. I am fortunate to have had close and loving relationships with each one of them. They were all dear friends to me. They are: Brandy, Shannon, Duncan, Dudley and Morgan. They all hold a special place in my heart.
About a year ago I changed jobs which affected my daily schedule. My commute is longer than the one with my previous job. I travel at off hours to cut down the drive so I can spend more time at home. I also have the opportunity to work more from out of the house. These work changes allow me to devote more time to our Sheltie, Dash.
Dash is the mayor in our neighborhood. We live on a corner lot in central New Jersey. When Dash was young, he would park himself out at the corner and watch the world pass. Everybody walking their dogs stopped by and said hello to him. We painted “Dash’s Corner” on a rock near his spot, so everyone knows who owns the real estate.
Now that he is getting older Dash chooses to survey the neighborhood from a perch on our deck. One kind woman brings him a treat, every day. She makes the journey up our property to bring him his gift. Recently another person looked over in our direction one morning and waved hello. I waved back, and she called out, “Hi Dash.” I guess I have earned my reputation around here.
Dash has been with us for eleven years. He has lived through our raising of three boys into their teens and early twenties. Also, he endured career failure and success with me as well as my wife’s retirement. He suffered the emotions from the death of my beautiful and wonderful sister, Karen. Dash is the half brother to my sister’s Sheltie, Windsor.
Over the past year, Dash and I have spent allot of time together. While I always felt a special bond with him, it has taken on a new level. Most days when I am home, we go for a walk. We usually take the same route, but the options start when we enter the woods. It’s his decision when we approach the fork in the path. Every time he looks at the two choices, then up at me. I look back and say “you decide.” He selects his route, and off we go. After walking about ten feet, he looks back to see if I am following him. He does this every time we go for a walk.
Raising three active boys is real work. Sue and I did the best we could, and we had help along the way from Dash. We experienced our fair share of late nights arguing with one of the kids. School, drugs, sports, girls, money and any number of passionate topics are murky waters for us.
It’s uncanny; Dash will align himself with the one who is in trouble. He will stand by him to counter the rash of pain coming from our words. If I drop the “F” bomb, Dash will come and lay down on my feet. What a special feeling I get when this happens. I feel guilt, stupidity, and anger which confuses me. I always end up feeling like a heel.
I often wonder what Dash has in his DNA that lets him have so much effect on a tense situation when he can’t communicate. I also think about what poison I have in my DNA, or what is missing, to make me such a prick.
How about the ability to forgive and forget? No matter what I have done, the permanent look of “you’re the best” is on Dash’s face. It’s there whenever I look at him.
We spend much time studying ourselves and what makes us who we are. We fight cancers and are seeking to make our lives easier and longer. I wonder if we should be trying to figure out what the canine world already knows about us? I venture it’s considerable as they appear to be in far better touch with our emotions than we are. Food for thought.
For my best friend, Dash.
My best, Chris
Originally Published on Huffington Post
Photo: Authors own