Friday, March 07, 2008

Dogs I have been fortunate enough to know

Don't get me wrong -- I love cats. In fact I share my home with a black-and-white Holstein-cow-marked feline; her name is Cookie and she is definitely one of my favorite people in the world. She enjoys nothing more than getting a good scratch and I enjoy giving a good scratch, so we get along great.
She's just one of many cats I've loved, but the truth is I'm a dog man. I truly believe that dog's unconditional love is the way we all should be -- human and canine -- and that we have much to learn from the dog. Much. All dogs are cool which is why all dogs go to heaven, but some dogs are more special than others. I feel very lucky to have known more than my share of great dog souls and today I want to tell you about the first of my canine mahatmas.
Her name was Cindy. She was a pit bull, but my dad called her a bulldog because he knew my mom wouldn't let him have a pit bull around babies. She needn't have worried; Cindy was gentle and patient with me; many was the time she was awakened from a deep sleep by a toddler (me) jumping on her stomach, knocking the wind out of her; not once did she ever get angry or even pretend to retaliate. She had no patience however with anybody that tried to mess with me. And nobody did. There were a lot of bullies in the neighborhood in Richmond where I grew up, but none of them picked on me until after Cindy died when I was 12. Take a good look at that picture of her. She only had three legs because she was hit by a garbage truck and had to get one of them amputated. She also had an underbite so pronounced it was a wonder she could chew. But she could run like the wind on her remaining three legs and if she bit you, you'd definitely know that you'd been bit.
So what did I learn from Cindy? That a homely exterior can hide a great soul and a beautiful heart. That you should not let a physical handicap slow you down. That you should always be loyal to and protective of your loved ones, and extra patient with babies and toddlers.
And that love lasts forever. I still miss her.

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