My dog is a coward.
It’s a trait not normally associated with dogs. There are no movies, to my knowledge, about cowardly dogs. Instead, these animals, touted as man’s best friend, are supposed to go to the ends of the earth for you. They are our guardians, barking ferociously at intruders no matter how diminutive they may be or how likely they are to smother them with doggy kisses when they actually meet. They are supposed to take on a cougar or a bear to defend us. Lassie went to the end of the earth for Timmy. Toto, small though he was, never let Dorothy down. And then there’s Old Yeller, who paid the ultimate price for his devotion. These brave and loyal companions are the epitome of what we love in a dog.
My dog doesn’t have these traits.
She is no spring pup. She’s well into her third year on earth and has been with us since we rescued her from her bouncy, hyper litter of thirteen. We are no strangers to each other. There’s no doubt she loves me, and not merely as the provider of food. She gets excited when she sees me, jumping and dropping sticks, balls, and frisbees at my feet. She comes when called and is eager to please.
It’s just that she expects me to protect her.
If she happens to be inside when someone knocks, she runs behind my legs, then stays in the other room while I go to check it out. When the other dogs bark, she will turn tail and run to the back door at breakneck speed. Most recently, when the fireworks were going off on the Fourth of July, we were walking through the semi-dark to get another log for the fire pit. The neighbors lit off a mortar, and she took off running, leaving me to face the danger alone.
At least she was safe.
My daughter recently made a list of the things this dog is afraid of. It includes a hula-hoop and pillows. Yes, you read that right – pillows. We have Christmas pillows that come out once a year. They are feather pillows, red and white, and whenever we even pick these pillows up, she runs to the other end of the house and hides. I don’t know where the fear of the hula-hoop came from, but unless she can conquer it, I fear she will never become a circus dog. The most recent addition to the list is the lid to the new fire pit. Whenever we pick it up to add a log (and admittedly play along with her fear by staring at her through the mesh), she looks on in terror and takes off across the yard. She has barked at me from upwind, only to sheepishly realize her mistake and beg forgiveness by grovelling at my feet. Whoever equated spinelessness with cowardice had my writhing mass of submission in mind. Does anyone have the number of a good doggie therapist?
My dog is a coward.
I guess I’m on my own.