I am your dog…

Published 9:46 am Friday, March 28, 2014

If your dog could speak English, maybe he or she would say …

I am your dog. You got me from a shelter or a breeder or a long line of my family in your family. I am tiny, small, compact, medium, large or huge. I am a pure breed or a “sooner” (just as soon be one breed as another).

If we’re both lucky, you got me when I was a puppy.

You think you chose me. But maybe I really chose you.

Treat me right, because I trust my fate to you. I will be with you through boyfriends, girlfriends, breakups, marriages, divorces, layoffs, deaths and births and the loss of old friends and the gain of new ones. I will be with you through sickness and health. I will walk with you, run with you, laugh and cry with you and sleep on your bed with you.

I will make your heart and break your heart. More on the break-your-heart part in a bit.

Whole libraries have been written about the ancient bond between us, but nobody can really explain it anymore than they can explain the magic of butterfly wings.

I will, depending on my breed, rear my ears back when I am nervous or scared and wag my tail, of course, when I am happy. My female master might make a similar movement. But let’s be clear: My purpose is not to be a magnet to your opposite sex – unless they want to pet me.

On our walks, I will drag you along when I am young. You will push me along when I am old. We’re in this together, bud.

When we walk down the street together, we’re invincible. Anybody messes with you, I will put war on them, or at least barks and growls. Ditto for birds, squirrels, unfriendly dogs and cats. Especially cats. Like a Texas Ranger, I am always on guard.

As we walk through this world, I will listen to your gripes about everything, even the parts I don’t understand. I will always meet your gaze with my loving eyes, even on the long days and nights when no one else will. I will mourn the loss of loved ones, whether canine or human, with you. While you cry, I will howl at the moon.

On our best days, the two of us will savor sunrises, sunsets, full moons, rural rivers and oceans. On our worst days, I will dig up your garden or chew up your slippers or not stop barking at your friends.

I am smarter than you think or maybe not as smart as you think. But you love me so much you don’t care either way. You’d think I was beautiful if I had the body of a dachshund and the head of a German shepherd. I will follow your every move like you’re a movie star. We’re biased toward each other like that. You love me and I love you back.

I will sleep out in the rain for you, drink water from mud puddles and go hungry for you. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. I will wait forever at the window or the gate for you to get home. I will match your moods. So cheer up, would ya?

I will know and savor your smell, even when it’s not so good. I will delight you by following my nose on endless trails. You know that my nose tells me stories. You read books. I read scents.

I will revel in your rubs and pats. Scratch my stomach and ears and I’m even happier. You get sick, and I will try to lick you back to health and happiness. I’ll get lost sometimes and worry you to death, but I will always try to make my way home to you. I will romp and roll and play with toys, happy to give you a glimpse at real innocence and fun.

To my dying days, when I can barely walk and you gladly carry me around, I will keep my loving eyes fixed on you.

I am your dog.

JOHN RAILEY is a Southampton County native and the editorial page editor of the Winston-Salem Journal.