Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Hair of the Dog

Weirdest thing happened today while on the bus from work. I was standing up leaning against the luggage area near the front after giving my seat to an old woman.. (yes, I'm a good citizen, thats not the point though) balancing my Nick Cave book in one hand, holding onto the rail with another, and adjusting my ipod volume with a loose thumb, when all of a sudden, I see it.

The hair of the dog. My dog.

One lone hair, on my shirt. I can tell it was a dog hair, my dog's hair. Theres not question about it. The near bleached white colour, tapering at the tip to become a golden sandy tint that is almost translucent.
My dog has been gone for two years now. Thats a long time.
I'd worn this shirt before, never a hair in sight.
Maybe it was my jeans jacket. Must be. I hadnt worn it in forever, and i used to wear it quite a lot.
I smiled to myself as I wrapped my arm around the rail keeping me from breaking my teeth on the bus floor due to the driver's insistence on being the next Collin McRae, and picked the hair up, and studied it closely. The thin filament echoed the setting sunlight and broke it within it miniscule frame, resulting in the finest gold. Well I never...

I smiled to myself as I recollected a conversation I had with my friend just the night before, about how I was planning on getting a dog in summer when I moved back to Beirut. "Which breed?" she asked.
I said "the homeless kind. I'm going to adopt."

An interesting conversation ensued in which many parallels were drawn about my choices regarding my furry companians and my own outlook on myself.

I'll explain. I'm sure I've lost you, or sound like someone who is lost.

The day I was called by the vet to tell me that new Labrador puppies had just arrived if I wanted to take my pick, I rushed to the clinic as though my life depended on it.
2 puppies were presented in front of me, one bursting with energy and running around the elevated table, licking the fingers of all who gave him attention, and they were many, while the other lay in the middle of the table, paler, and still groggy from being sedated on the flight to Beirut. But aware. Very aware.
I looked at him and brought my face closer, inspecting his wide eyes that looked up at me, creasing the furrow of his brow slightly in a curious pose, and then relaxing slightly. Bringing my hand closer to stroke the bridge of his small muzzle, he lifted his head and licked me with a velvety tongue, rosy with youth. That was it. Runt he may be when compared with his vivacious brother but my Runt he shall be.

Still confused?
I chose the runt. Because he would have been the least obvious choice. Any person would have preferred to take the bouncy ball of love and fun that circled the edge of the table, spreading excitement with his little tail wagging away, and of course saliva. But what of his thinner paler comrade?
I did not want him to be the one that "had to be chosen". I stuck by my choice. Picked him up and cradled him in my folded arms, and a little nuzzle towards my armpit with his nose told me we were going to be just fine, told me he knew I'd pick him and as he burrowed into the warm darkness of my sweater, I too knew I would have picked him out of 100 puppies, let alone a couple.
No one wants the runt. The less obvious. The less appealing. But I do, for that very reason.

He gave me a similar look 5 years later, as he lay on the table at the vet's, suffering slowly from a cancer that he had managed to keep a secret from us all for a while. Except this time his look was not curious. But loving, tarnished with some fear. This time, it was I who nuzzled into his neck. And this time I did not get to take him home.

So now I am making the same choice, although choice could be the wrong word, since I don't believe it's that at all. It's just pre-chosen.
I had rattled my brain about which breed of dog to get ever since I took the decision to go down that road of companionship again. I thought of them all, taking into account my previous experience when it came to size and energy and shedding patterns (please refer to the trigger of all this entry.. the hair of the dog)
And then it just dawned on me. Why bother? Why the beauty contest? Why the need of a "new" dog. All dogs need love. There is no doubt about that... But isn't a dog that had been given love and then have it taken away more worthy? A dog at the shelter is not waiting to be bought, has not been taken care of or treated to fit any specific routine or measure.
They just ask to be loved. Half hound half retriever, half spaniel quarter alsation quarter husky... Concoctions, mutations, rehabilitations. They have no pedigree to fall back on, no lineage to claim.
Broken dogs. Not needing glue, or bandages. Just needing affection.
So I will adopt. No. Not adopt. That could infer a nonreciprocating relationship.
I will not adopt. I will welcome. I will love.

You see, I am a broken dog. A rain dog. A shelter dog. A runt of the litter.

But so are you. Only difference is I'm just not ashamed to say it.