Worship of Old Dogs

The tumultuous '60's still resonates with those of us who lived through those times. I lived on a commune with about 10-20 people and 10-15 dogs, give or take, depending on the litter of puppies of any given season. A rabidly right wing neighbor shot eight of my dogs, and later a posse of policemen swept the commune, thinking that we would be an easier target without eight dogs to complicate their mission. No drugs were found. My neighbor who killed my dogs years later embezzled eight million dollars from the Republican Party, and his family left him in disgust. Meanwhile it took me 21 years to get another dog, my beloved Mukunda.

We just celebrated his 10th birthday. Twenty-one years without a dog is too long. But the post-traumatic stress surrounding the loss of my beloved 8 dogs did not allow me to even consider getting another dog.

Only one dog managed to make me cry in that 21 year period. I had a short tumultuous relationship with a man who had an old beagle named Wild Dog. One day, he dropped her off and asked me to take care of her, twelve years after the ending of the commune years.

And I agreed that I would. Because of her advanced age, she could not take long walks, so we took frequent short walks. I remember time slowing down.

I remember her appreciative glances my way, and i felt once or twice the great wisdom she emanated from every cell of her tiny old body. I did not want to give her up, knowing the day would soon come when she would go back with her master. I remember the flash of memory surfacing pertaining to my commune dogs Alphy and Das and all their noble offspring, and how they and Wild Dog were dog/Gods come to sweep us away into eternity.

But her master reclaimed her and I forgot about my feelings of love for this very dear soul, as if forgetting a very important dream. It is in remembering the dream that our everyday life loses the mundane quality of reality. As I saw on a bumper sticker recently: "Reality is for people who lack imagination." In this beautiful lush spring season, when green suddenly bursts forth from mud and brown earth, we can practice bringing that tone into our hearts for expression.

Mukunda reminds me of green even though he has a red head, just like mine. Or is mine just like his? We are both green souls. The cardinal is red yet she sings, surrounded by the profound green of the forest reflected on the great Conestoga River that rolls past our house. The river is also red after long periods of rain. And at night, moon light filters through mist, reflected on dark river, as the red fox yelps her urgent message. And Mukunda barks to go out and find her.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- A Pit Bull washed up onto our Conestoga River Bank, one day. He was carefully sewn into a moving blanket, weighted down by brick and concrete block, and thrown into the river points south of our home. The dog had deep tooth marks on his neck, and his right shoulder has been torn apart. He was killed in a dog fight, professional or domestic. Are there professional dog fights in our town? I surmised that there are?and that the killed dogs are dumped into the town's drinking water supply. I wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper, accusing the town of ignoring this issue.

The Pit Bull was given a proper burial, down in the pasture along the river. We gave the fella a name: Old Mac, the Conestoga Pit Bull. He was treated badly in his life, was taught to be mean, to kill, to tear up smaller animals than himself. Perhaps he would have killed Mukunda.

But it was people who created the monster who rolled up on the bank of the meandering Conestoga. He came to us, so we could think about him, feel deeply in our heats the travesty of his existence. We will muse about this every time we walk by the pile of rocks that top his tiny memorial, overlooking Canadian Goose habitat, squawking Blue Heron taking flight and skimming the river surface, and bird song music, also the yelp of Red Fox everywhere surrounding him. So he found a final resting place where all of us who pass can ponder his existence.

How does Old Mac, the Conestoga Pit Bull, fit into our great theme of freedom when he was used and exploited in his short life? And in his death, he made the mistreatment of innocent animals into a public statement. Mukunda regards Old Mac's grave site with a seriousness and an aura of contemplation and reverence. He looks at the grave for two to three minutes at a time, and therefore, so do I. Mukunda now realizes that bad things happen to dogs.

Before this time, he did not know. His innocence has been transformed to worldly ways. Since then, he listens to me more consistently, wants to please me more constantly instead of proving his will over mine. And to think Old Mac could teach me to be more humble as we place one foot in front of the other, passing his memorial every day.

Dog is man's best friend. The dog is not returned the unconditional love they hold for our supposedly superior species. Yet even when they are abused, they teach us love. Even when they die, they live on.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=--=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- Kate Loving Shenk is a writer, healer, musician and the creator of the e-book called "Transform Your Nursing Career and Discover Your Calling and Destiny." Click here to find out how to order the e-book: Check Out Kate's Blog: -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-


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