Saturday, 25 June 2011

Man's Best Friend

You can´t fight inspiration...

About five years ago, my family and I had a dog named Shaggy. He was a white pompec that was given to us by my aunt and uncle after their dog gave birth to a litter of pups. At first, my dad was totally against us having a dog given the fact that our pet iguana had vanished without a trace some years before. Eventually, Shaggy grew on him and he was loved by the family especially my Grandma and my brother. While it was nice having a puppy around licking between your toes and running around outside while I studied my ass off for CXC, I must admit that I firmly remained NOT a dog person. One morning, we noticed that Shaggy was missing and we went nuts trying to find him. Later that evening, Shaggy was brought to us in a cardboard box by the people that lived in the street behind us. Apparently, Shaggy had ended up in their yard and their dogs being the gangsters of "Dog World" had attacked him, ripped out his throat and killed him. On seeing Shaggy in the box, my Granny dissolved into tears vowing to NEVER own a dog again while my brother hit the guava tree several times screaming, "WHY?!?" to the heavens. My Dad decided to bury Shaggy in the cane patch in the backyard and when my then neighbour, Ms. Deceitful asked him what had happened, he answered, "Girl, the dog get away, went in somebody yard and they dog gash 'way he throat. Things bad when dog killing dog yes!" Throughout the tears, anger and explanations, I was laughing hysterically. I couldn't understand why everyone was reacting this way, I mean it was just a DOG; we could have bought another one! Pardon my insensitivity but I just didn't get it.

While I was in Bogotá, I reminisced about Shaggy after watching a movie entitled, "Marley and Me". The film stars Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston as newlyweds, John and Jenny who live in Miami. Jenny has always had her life mapped out and feels that the next step after marriage is parenthood. However, John doesn't feel that he has accomplished anything in life and wants to wait on the whole parenthood thing so he buys Jenny a dog, Marley to distract her from wanting children for the time being- only a MAN would come up with this idea. Marley is not an obedient dog; he likes to chew household items, swallow jewellery, chase pigeons, bark LOUDLY all night and frustrate his masters. For some reason, he continues to be a part of John and Jenny's lives because they care for him deeply and vice versa. Throughout the movie as John and Jenny develop as characters; starting a family, securing job promotions, going through postpartum depression, moving to Philadelphia and experiencing all the trials and tribulations that life threw their way, Marley was there. By the end of the movie, the family of five can be seen around Marley's grave, bidding him goodbye whilst my eyes welled- up with tears, moved by the emotion displayed on the screen.

I was confused; I am NOT a dog person but there I was on the verge of tears, feeling cold in an apartment in Bogotá. I realised that it wasn't about being a dog person; it was about having empathy and understanding why these people felt that way after losing a dog. You see, once a dog enters your life it loves you unconditionally and never judges. John said it the best at the end of the movie, "A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn't care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not. As I wrote that farewell column to Marley, I realized it was all right there in front of us, if only we opened our eyes. Sometimes it took a dog with bad breath, bad manners, and pure intentions to help us see." Furthermore, a dog becomes part of your family, is there through the good times and bad times and can teach you important lessons about life. According to John, "A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things-- a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall and a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty". Overall, tears and other signs of loss are normal when a dog dies.

It's sad that I took SO long to realise this but some of us mature and have epiphanies later than others. I would like to 'blog- ficially' apologize for my insensitivity all those years ago. Although I didn't bond with Shaggy or cry when he died, I should not have laughed at those who were truly affected by his death. Thanks to Marley and his family for showing me that! Who says you can't learn anything from television?

Until the next post...