Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Dog That Wouldn't Die

I've never disliked a dog. I can love almost anything. And yet I've always nearly-hated my in-laws' giant Airedale, Walker.

For a while, the only good thing you could say about him was that he was, well, a damn good killer. He'd catch birds mid-air in the barn. He took down a wild turkey in the back field. On one of my first dates with the Dogtor - a picnic - Walker mauled a fawn. Family friends fear him. When we have parties, he is relegated to the garage or truck.

After seeing hundreds of wonderful dogs being put down in shelters, I'll admit it's hard for me to tolerate mean dogs.

Walker reminds me of the "blue dog" Lion in William Faulkner's AMAZING short story (and part of his novel Go Down, Moses) The Bear. A dog who is more himself than anything. A dog who is too much dog to be a pet.

For two years, we've been expecting Walker to die. There have been tumors, a bad eye, degenerative issues in his back legs. And yet every morning, and every evening, he does a lap around the property - willing himself to put one foot in front of the other, willing himself to live.

And damn it, I've come to admire him for it. He's bitten me twice, snarled at me countless times, made me cry as he killed some vulnerable animal....and in his twilight years, I almost, almost love the damn thing. And so every morning, and every evening, I cheer him on.

Here's to mean, old dogs.


  1. Thank you, Whit! You've met the mean old dog. I felt my complicated relationship with him deserved an ode. Ah, dog people.