Black Dog

[audio:|titles=BlackDog – read by Donald Tongue]

Week after week
Year after year
From her school library
Meghan would only bring home books about dogs
Till I was convinced the library had nothing but dog books

He’s a black dog
Of medium size
With distinguished roots
A mix of Shepard, Chow, Black Lab
Though when asked “what breed…?” I simply reply, “blackdog”

When first I held him
He was four months old
Staring back at me
With deep brown thoughtful eyes, raised eyebrows
He seemed to be questioning whether I would be a suitable “master”

We call him Matti
Short for Mattimeo
A character in a Red Wall book
My son was reading at the time Matti came to live with us
And forever his true gender has been called into question

Matti soon discovered
Our matrimonial bed
Is much more comfortable than the floor
And if I linger in bed too long after the morning alarm
He will often awaken me with slobbery kisses and take my place with a satisfied sigh

His dog days are spent
Lying under the coffee table
Or sprawled out on our queen size bed
While I trudge to and from work hours spent in toil
I wonder which of us has profited more from evolutionary advancements

It’s not that he
Doesn’t earn his keep
He’s a faithful companion
And is always at the ready to alert us
Whenever his keen senses are aroused by something out of place just outside our door

It could be a car
Daring to drive by
Or a visitor that has the audacity
To ring the door bell either in person or on TV
And of course there are the carefree nut gathering squirrels

Oh, how those gray
Bushy tailed little demons
Love to taunt him into a chase
Only to leave him barking ceaselessly
Stupidly at the base of some tree that more often than not isn’t even the one they scampered up

They are like
Chip and Dale
Yes I know, Chip and Dale are chipmunks
Squirrels are like their bigger older cousins and seem to derive the same sadistic pleasures
Craftily developing schemes that prey on a dog’s natural instincts, then gleefully foil the K-nine futile efforts

In many ways they
Embody the anti-dog
Or so I once believed until one morning
After stepping out of the shower I happen to look out the bathroom window and
See Matti and a group of squirrels engaged in an activity that can only be described as frolicking

There they were – archenemies
Yet Matti and squirrels were jumping and tumbling
Each giving playful chases then falling rolling in the grass
Squirrels leaping over Matti’s belly while he made playful swipes with his paws
Back on his feet he would feign threatening advances only to tumble and roll while squirrels danced about

I quickly wrapped
My towel around my waist
Ran out onto the deck to see Matti flat on his back
Paws fully extended while two or three squirrels scratched his belly
Others lie panting in the grass exhausted from their shameless cavorting

I cleared my throat
Matti and squirrels suddenly
Aware of my presence, quickly turned to see me
Surprised, Matti just as quickly closed his eyes as though sleeping
The squirrels picked up on his cue and pretended to be trying to sneak past a sleeping dog on tiptoe

I cleared my throat again
Matti “awoke”, noticed the squirrels
Sprang into his usual routine of barking madly
Giving chase to his cohort’s “frantic” scampering
All of them pretending I didn’t see what I just witnessed

While I stood there
Dripping in disbelief
The towel slipped from my fingers and
I was exposed for the entire world to see
The naked truth of how easily I had been deceived

– © 2004 Donald Tongue