I know I look sort of squashed up here but I’m NOT fat okay it’s just the wrong angle for me…now that we have that cleared up we can talk about this most excellent article by my friend Ron Hevener. I thought it would be grrreat to share a good story on this day. Enjoy, WOOF!
by Ron Hevener
He had won.
He had done his master proud and he had won.
It wasn’t that he understood exactly “what” he had done to make everyone so happy. It wasn’t as if he had fought off a raging bear, or saved a lost child. He hadn’t run for help or chased a thief away from those he loved. He hadn’t done any of those things. He hadn’t done anything but be himself, standing before a crowd of strangers, beside the one he loved. And, there it was: His master’s hand upon his shoulder; his master’s voice at his ear; his master’s smile upon him.
It wasn’t always like this. In the long-ago mists of Before, when he nudged his mother’s breast and scrapped with his brothers and sisters, he was blind to the life that lay ahead of him, blind to anything but himself. Listening into the night, his mother’s breath comforted him in a world of what he could feel, hear, or sense around them. But, from his earliest awakening, he was aware of a presence around him; an intelligence. From as far back as he could think, there seemed to be a mysterious something watching over them, providing an order to things; a mysterious someone who seemed to care.
Day after day it was like this. Day after day, as he dozed in the manner of the newborn, he felt himself touched by something greater than he, himself, seemed to be. It wasn’t that he knew himself. It wasn’t as if he knew he was any different from a rock or a tree or the flowers decorating his life. He only knew that his life was protected by someone that could change anything around him.
It was a power that could change the bedding on which he lay. It could bring him food. It could bring water. It could take away his mother, making him wonder if she would ever return. It could fill the air with music all night long and calm him with a reassuring voice. From the moment he first saw it, he knew he was important to this powerful someone. He knew it from the moment he felt his master’s smile upon him.
As it is with all young dogs, there were ups and there were downs. There was the time he escaped and followed a yellow butterfly. Yes, it was true he could hear his name being called. It sounded nice, hearing his master shout his name to the Heavens and fade into the distance. But, a yellow butterfly! Now that was something he had to know about. He had to know about all kinds of things in the Early Days. He had to know about powdery wings that fluttered and lifted a butterfly into the air. Did he have wings, too, he wondered? Where were his own wings? … Where, he suddenly wondered with a sinking feeling in his belly, was his master’s voice? Yellow butterflies melted into darkness and shivers as he learned the meaning of loneliness … and longing.
A light! The rustling, crunching sound of dry leaves and familiar footsteps! Was it possible? “There you are!” came the words that showed him all things are possible even when all is lost. “I’ve been looking for you,” came the caress of love as they turned for home and he felt his master’s smile upon him ….
There were other times, many of them, when he tried new things. Some were praised and others were not. But through it all, through the good times and the bad, his spirit flourished and he grew. As his spirit grew, so did the body in which it dwelled. He grew taller, stronger, and wiser with his master never far away; feeding him, watering him, turning on the radio and filling the night with music ….
With his master’s help, he grew to understand that collars, leashes and manners were important things to know about. He grew accustomed to riding in a car, accustomed to the slippery floor of a veterinarian’s office and the bitter taste of medicine … He grew accustomed to many things, to please the one he loved.
There were others like his master. As time went by, he saw many of these gods, for that’s what they were to him. He heard them speak and did not understand their words, he saw their eyebrows raise and fall, he saw the gesture of their hands and felt their laughter. “Is that thing worth showing?” they asked.
“We’ll see,” came the answer from the one who mattered to him most. “His mother is the best one I have and his sire is a winner.”
As spring burned into summer and summer leaves began to fall, they worked. They worked together, side by side, early in the morning. They roamed the pasture and fields, just the two of them, a master and his dog; a master and his dog sharing a secret. “You can do it,” he was told. “I know you can.”
After what seemed like endless mornings and endless nights, when it felt as if this would be his lot in life forever, something changed. “We’ve done enough now, my friend. It’s time to show them.”
Show them? Show them what? What are we going to show them?
“We’re going to show them what you were born to be,” came the answer, as he felt his master’s smile upon him.
He was frightened that day. Was he good enough? Would he do the right thing or would he let his master down? What was ahead for him, he wondered, as he hopped into the car. Were they going to the vet’s office? Please say they weren’t going to the vet’s office for shots or medicine. But, they weren’t going to the vet. This time, they drove past the vet. He breathed a sigh of relief and fell asleep.
It was the sounds that woke him: sounds of barking, air compressors and excited chatter. The smell of sausage, French fries and dogs — hundreds of them; more dogs than he had ever seen in his life — lured him to full attention. Where are we, he wondered, pressing his nose against the window. What’s happening?
“Come on, fella,” his master said, opening the door and snapping on a leash after they came to a stop. “Good boy!”
“Good” is what he always tried to be. Was it his imagination, or was his master standing extra tall today? Was his master brushing him with extra-careful attention? Were people looking at them in a different way than they used to?
“Where’d you get that one?” somebody with a poodle asked.
“Bred him myself,” came the answer.
“Yeah? Who’s he out of?”
“The best one I have and his sire’s a winner.”
“Wait a minute -” came a voice of disbelief. “That can’t be the one I saw at your place. That pup was just about the scrawniest thing I ever saw!”
Nobody had ever told him he was scrawny. Nobody had ever told him he was any different from a flower or a cloud or a beautiful butterfly. Nobody had ever told him anything … except that he was important; except that he was loved.
The class was called, the entries filed into the ring … proudly, he stood as the judge ran her hands through his hair, over his back and down his legs. Down and back they trotted; around the ring they went. As still as a living statue he stood, though every fiber of his being wished to jump into his master’s arms.
One by one the entries went through their paces. One by one, they went to the end of the line. One by one, they waited the judge’s brave decision.
“Around again, please,” she directed … and, sure of herself, she pointed: “One! … Two! … Three! … Four!” as the crowd clapped their approval.
No, it wasn’t as if he understood exactly “what” he had done to make everyone so happy. It wasn’t as if he had fought off a raging bear, or saved a lost child. He hadn’t run for help or chased away a thief. He hadn’t done any of those things. He hadn’t done anything but be himself, standing bravely before a crowd of strangers; standing beside the one he loved. There it was: His master’s hand upon his shoulder; his master’s voice at his ear; his master’s smile upon him.