I stopped in to see a friend the other day. Our paths of late had taken us in different directions and it was time to do a little catching up. We were sitting out on his front porch enjoying a cool drink and watching the sun inch closer to the trees. We had gotten off on one of our usual circuitous discussions and were entering the second lap when his neighbor pulled into the driveway next door. Actually, he didn’t so much pull in as he came in for a landing. We heard him coming a block or two away, and it looked as if he wasn’t going to get slowed down in time to make his driveway. He did though, and came to a screeching stop just short of the garage door.
As his truck door flew open and his boot hit the ground, his dog came running around the corner of the house to greet him. He was a regular sized dog and looked to be a mix of shepherd, retriever and probably some other breeds as well. He ran up to within a few feet of the man, and then stopped and cowered as if he could sense the man’s sour mood. He didn’t run away but he didn’t come any closer either. He turned partly away from the man, his tail wagging and his head down.
The man slammed the door of his truck, growled something that we could not hear, and kicked at the dog with his big heavy boot. The dog scampered away and the boot never came close, but you could tell it wasn’t the first time he had dodged that boot. Funny thing was, the dog didn’t run away. He stayed out of reach of the man and his boot, but he never ran away and his tail never stopped wagging. He followed the man until he was inside the house and after a minute or so he crawled under the man’s truck and layed down.
I looked over at my friend who was slowly shaking his head. “They been going through a rough patch lately,” he said. “He lost his job and she’s had some health problems. He’s picking up work where he can. He’s basically a good guy but here lately he comes home like that more often than not. From what I can tell he cools down once he’s inside with the wife and kids, but that poor old dog has caught the brunt of it a few times. I don’t think he’s ever actually kicked the dog. He yells at it and kicks at it, but the dog always comes back for more. Actually, I know for a fact that he loves that dog, but I guess he needs to blow off some steam and that dog is always the first one he sees when he comes home. Anyway, his problems have got nothing to do with the dog.”
“Yeah, I guess,” I said, “but the dog don’t know the difference.”