Friday 17 June 2011

One step beyond

I find myself with another dog, a welcome addition to the pack. Predominantly white, with some weird speckling beneath the surface, he’s (now) roughly six months old. Beautiful. He’s been with me for the best part of two months. I mean, he just turned up, he was here, waiting….and he’s still here now, rarely letting me out of his sight.

Hello, Mr Man, I’m staying here now. Hello, Mr Dog, I’m so glad. You don’t need words to trace the electric outlines of a sudden, overwhelming love. We just looked it at each other; fixed.

After a few weeks, I got a hold of myself: this dog must belong to someone else, I need to ask around and explain to someone – anyone – that the dog is now mine. When you live up a hill in the middle of nowhere, asking around can be tricky. When you’re only just emerging from the deepest mental fog, reluctantly fighting back against the seductive muffling of complete withdrawal, the task may seem simply overwhelming.

What if I can’t hear what the people are saying? What if I’m no longer able to speak? I know all the words, get a grip, and I know exactly how you lot interact. Blah blah blah blah, you say, blah blah noise blah. You bore me, you know? It’s nothing personal. I bore me, as well. I always have. It’s just that I tend to go about the business of boring myself in silence. But you there, with your mouths and everything? Blah blah noise blah. Fucking crushing.

Some very minor investigations later and it turns out that Lewis – I’d already named him by this time – belonged to The Wilsons from down the hill. Oh dear. The Wilsons comprise three middle-aged brothers, all wholly smithereened by a rampaging alcoholism, living together in a blue house the size of Andorra.

I don’t like violence - it seems like the greatest possible admission of defeat - but I’m not entirely certain I wasn’t ready to batter a Wilson or two quite dead. It’s very obvious when a dog has been brutalised and the thought of such things will unhinge me. So just one poorly chosen word, hobo-face. Please. I dare you. (I beg you.)

But no, the queasily diffident brother I spoke to disarmed me: “we’re just three bachelors living together, so we can’t always feed him.”

Isn’t that a bizarre thing to say? It doesn’t even make sense. Why are you telling me your marital status and living arrangements? How does it follow that these things disallow for the feeding of a dog? How did any or all of you ever think it might be okay to kick the undercarriage of an animal in your care? And straighten the fuck up, man, and stop mumbling in such a cravenly apologetic manner. Look me in the eyes, god damn it.

But why waste time? My words to him would have meant nothing at all and his words to me would be worthless. Besides, I’ve never liked a scene or, as mentioned, violence. It was merely interesting to note, as I waited at his door, that a bright whiteness passed (quite slowly) over my eyes. I’ve only ever had this once before. At the other side of the whiteness, you step straight into Anything Is Now Possible territory. I think it’s a dangerous place to be.

Anyway, aided by the imperturbable and hurtfully loyal Emma (an impeccable dog), I’ve managed to make Lewis feel safe. That these binding loyalties have been forged in near total silence only adds to the feeling of intimacy. Words may mean nothing or significantly less, in the final analysis, and dogs seem to know this well enough. Blah blah biscuit blah. Shh.

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