A dog’s life is more complex than you’d think. Most dogs are in a constant state of caring. Dog’s care about many different things. Mainly, they care about keeping garbage people and animals away from the people they love.
Alexi and my dog, Ellie, is the best dog in the whole world. Here she is:
He passed away in August 2014. The most marvelous feature of dogs is that the rules of logic are suspended with them. We can all have the best dogs and there’s no contradiction–even though, we all know our dog is really the best dog (*winks*).
Anyways, here’s a quick story about Epic.
Epic was an Australian Shepherd. He was very handsome, as you can obviously tell.
Epic was my grandmother’s dog. After she died, my family took him in.
In a former life, Epic was a real sheep-dog. His tail was cropped in his youth so it wouldn’t get caught in gates, or so I’m told. He would herd around the animals, nipping at the pokey ones.
(As a small aside, I have a dumb, fourth-grade bus-logic theory about smart dogs and farms. I am under the belief that smart dogs could run farms entirely on their own without the farmer lifting a finger. Cause smart dogs are capable of anything and they are great.)
Anyways, after he retired from shepherding, Epic continued to nip. There were three kinds of situations in which he would nip: when groups of people gathered in places they didn’t belong, when anyone who got too close to my mother, and when he was near bad people.
(Another small aside: all dogs have a supernatural ability to detect bad people. They all just do.)
He would nip at groups of people who gathered in the entryway of my parents’ house in order to shoo them into the main room, where he believed socializing should happen.
He would also nip at people who hugged my mother either too closely or too long. He protected my mother like she were his child.
And, as mentioned, he would nip people he knew were garbage people.
In high school, I saw this garbage girl for like three weeks. My friends would tell me, “Ryan, you know she’s garbage, right?” My teachers would tell me, “Ryan, you know she isn’t, well, very motivated, is she?” My mother would tell me, “Really Ryan? Her?”
Yet, it still didn’t hit me because I was very aloof. Or, perhaps, I was garbage as well.
So, one day, I had the garbage girl over my house after school. We watched cartoons, ate Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies, and talked about how she wanted to do some design job some day or something.
Epic did not get to meet her that day because he had business at the park with the frisbee.
After she had left, Epic returned from his meeting with a bit of grass stuck in his color, a happy expression on his shaggy face, and a wide smile full of slightly yellowing teeth. And then, it struck him.
Epic picked up on the scent of an unknown person. He became very serious now. He stalked out the scent like a hunter stalks a wounded animal.
Epic finally arrived at the spot on the couch where garbage girl had sat. He sniffed once. He sniffed twice. Then, he turned and looked at me. He cocked his head and said, in his silent, dog-like manner, “Come the fuck on, Ryan.”
But, since I didn’t speak fluent silent-dog (at that point in my life), I didn’t get his message.
A few days passed.
I had garbage girl over again after school. Again, Epic was not home. He had an appointment at the salon to get his brows touched up.
Garbage girl and I decided to go for a walk. As we left the house, my dad pulled up with Epic in his truck. I swear to you, as garbage girl and I walked down the driveway, Epic rolled down the window with his paw-fingers and gave me the shadiest, most disapproving look. It was a kind of hybrid side-eye/headshake only disappointed dogs can give.
Finally, the day came.
I walked garbage girl into my parents’ house and Epic was there. Waiting for her. The moment she passed him, Epic swiftly whipped his head around, homed in the back of her leg, and took a solid nip.
Later, in the park as garbage girl nursed two small bloody spots visible through two small holes in her ripped jeans, I told her I couldn’t see her anymore.
“My dog is never wrong about people. And he doesn’t like you. So, sorry, but this is goodbye.”
I left her alone in the park. Epic waited for me outside the park gates. He let me hold his leash, but he refused to look at me.
Epic, the champion of my dignity and the uprightness of his household, carried his head high as we walked in the golden sunlight towards home.
It was that day that I learned the most important lesson in life: always listen to your dog.