I remember when we first met. He was of quite small physical stature standing next to me, but I cared little about that difference in height between us. I looked into his eyes and saw his admiration for me so apparent. His gaze followed me wherever I went. I began to feel an unbidden affection toward him developing within me. When his brown eyes focused on my own, I was overcome with a sense of commitment to him.
We had considerable time together learning so much about one another through the ensuing months. We delighted in pleasing each other in a manner that required little effort. Neither of us had to sacrifice our own sense of individualism in that process to achieve the respect and retain the affection we both wanted.
We looked forward to moments when we engaged in playful teasing games. When we chased one another he usually could catch me, as he was much quicker and more adept at darting and dodging. I generally couldn’t catch him unless he wanted me to do so. In the winter we had fun making tracks in the snow. During the warm seasons, the two of us took long walks together along narrow dirt paths that I imagined to be hidden trails into some unknown world. On either side of the trails, tall growing grasses swayed in the quickening breezes. On an opposite hillside unseen fantasized figures emerged disguised as wild flowers scattered randomly in the field.
Then came the day when I was unexpectedly informed my beloved friend and I must part.
He was going to be fully engaged elsewhere in working activities he would enjoy.
We would no longer be able to spend time with each other. I was certain this was not his choice. I knew I could not prevent this separation. The only hope I had was to make our parting as painless as possible. I knew his departure would bring me such intense pain, that I believed I could not be present to witness his leaving. I was familiar with loss experiences from an early age, so was sensitive to the prospect of having even one more.
Also, I did not want him to think I had wanted this parting, nor did I want to mislead him into believing I endorsed his entering the situation to which he was going. The fact was, I did not fully know specifically what sort of situation in which he would find himself. All I knew was, at some unknown time in the future, he and I would be allowed to meet again, if I so wanted. Any such meeting was to provide me with reassurance as to his welfare.
The day came for his departure, and I hid in my bedroom. I heard loud talking, shouting, increasingly angry sounding voices outside. I was lured with great reluctance to my window to see exactly what was happening. What I saw was greatly distressing to me. My friend did not want to go. He was resisting all commands from everyone, refusing even to walk. Those involved with taking him away were resorting to force, dragging him, to get him into the cab of their large shiny new pickup truck.
He gave the appearance of being undisciplined, uncooperative, generally disobedient. I did not want him viewed from this perspective. I so wanted those with whom he would soon spend all his time to fully appreciate his fine qualities. He deserved to be treated with respect, would respond in kind when trust was established. I knew he was proud, truly regal as the name I had given him implied, he was "King."
So, I rushed from my bedroom to his side. He immediately calmed and walked with me to the pickup truck, entered the cab at my direction. He trusted me implicitly. My point of view was, I was betraying him to I knew not what. The cab door was closed and they drove away. I returned to my room, fell on my bed, sobbed into my pillow to muffle the anguished cries that tore outward from deep inside my body.
Many months later to reassure me as to his welfare, I was offered the opportunity to exercise my option of visiting him. I quickly accepted the offer, but with mixed feelings at the thought of enduring the pain of separation when we would have to part once again.
When we arrived where he was now living, before we even left the car, the man with
whom he had departed in that pickup truck came out to caution us that my friend had developed a rather unpleasant and dangerous habit. He approached people from behind, not just nipping but biting them in a totally unfriendly manner. I was shocked to hear this, as I knew this was not my friend's nature.
I exited the car with only slight trepidation. There was silence for some time, then I heard a scuffling noise coming from the dirt driveway somewhat in the distance behind me. I never turned around. Instead I stood stark still with my arms stretched out at my sides, the palms of my hands open with fingers extended. The noise drew closer and closer, evolving into a scurrying sound more directly behind where I stood.
Soon I heard cautious sniffs for scent, alternating with short slight bursts of air at my feet. I felt the breaths against my bare legs. My body posture remained rigid as though I was frozen in place. I heard increasingly rapid sniffs, the sound increasing in loudness with movement upward on my body. I then felt the airbursts against the palm of my right hand, finally followed by the touch of cold moist skin against my own.
The sniffing figure began jumping up and down, circling around to face me. He quickly raised up on his hind legs, placed his front paws on my shoulders as in an embrace, so I hugged him close to me. This was, indeed, my friend, who could hardly contain his enthusiasm at finally seeing me again. During our separation he had grown to become a full size handsome black colored stock collie trimmed in a golden brown with touches of white at his neck. We only had a short time together before I had to leave.
Somehow I think he hoped I had come to rescue him. Had it been within my power, I would have taken him with me that day. There was little doubt in my mind that my friend had been subjected to what I would have termed abuse, but which his new owner probably thought was appropriate discipline to train him properly. My heart figuratively broke that day as I experienced such feelings of anguish and sadness when we drove away. My tears were suppressed with even greater effort than I had to exert from the heartbreak I felt when we first parted.
During the years since that reunion, I have sometimes dreamed of him, fantasized about the life we might have had together. I wonder on the occasions when he lay sleeping, maybe rapidly moving his paws and legs as though running, perhaps even uttering a slight whimper, as dogs sometimes do, if he, too, would have been dreaming of me? I have remembered him always with such bittersweet memories though I never saw him again.