If you ask me how I feel about dogs, I’ll tell you a lie so familiar that it almost seems like the truth.
It was fifty years ago but still…
Today, in a green space at the edge of town, a spaniel was searching, her long coat and comedic ears flopping and dancing as she nosed in the grass.
Briefly, inquisitively, she turned my way but I didn’t retain her interest.
Unguarded in this verdant place, I allowed the missed beat, the quickening within me. My weakness unwittingly exposed itself to me.
With an indulgent grin, the dog’s companion explained that she’d lost her ball. I gave a friendly reply and walked away just as the dog was retrieving her circular prey. I didn’t glance back.
The image of man and dog stayed with me. Soon they would wend their way home; his heart eased by this love; hers bouncing as she lolloped, silently reciprocating.
I pictured that smile full of humour and pride, like a bridegroom parading his bride.
It was fifty years ago, but still I think of him, a different kind of dog than the one I saw today.
I remember the play-fights, the gentle bites that never drew blood, how he was always waiting when I came home from school, his lithe body that nipped around me panting with excitement, his tail wagging. His joyfulness. His youthful beauty.
And all over again I am staring out of my parent’s bedroom window, a tear-streaked face pressed against the pane as they bundle him into a van, taking him away forever.
It was fifty years ago and still I hear the sound of the rear doors slam.
Nobody told him it was all over. I had held him and hugged him, but in my denial I hadn’t said goodbye to Prinny,
If you ask me how I feel about dogs, I’ll tell you I don’t like them. I’ll turn away.
I won’t meet your eye.
© Jane Paterson Basil