Lawyer, Accountant, Consultant and observer of wry things, Sam – otherwise known as the Blue Collar Lawyer (also known as the International Man of Mystery) grew up in 20 countries as his parents assumed a variety of UN postings. Almost a generation ago he kept a blog. I share his writing here and pray he finds the spirit to attack the keys again.
Head to Blue Collar Lawyer for more posts by Sam
Although I do not have a canine phobia, there are certain breeds capable of instilling more than a minor degree of anxiety in my mind. Two such breeds happen to be Dobermans and Rottweilers, an interesting observation since my family owned two Doberman guard dogs some two decades ago (both of whom were vicious bastards to put it mildly). Although not a threat to the household, both had a fondness for pawing frantically at their owners and in the case of a certain toddler in a stroller (i.e. yours truly), rolling him around the house like a human pinball.
Over two decades have passed since I last owned a real pet. Fish do not count. Just over a year ago, however, one of my father’s friends asked whether I would mind ‘conditioning’ a young malamute pup over several months. This fellow, a seasoned breeder of Arctic sled dogs (based in Australia), believed that a dog developed a much better temperament if made accustomed to being around young animals and children when young. The dog in question, a purebred worth some $5500, was known simply as J5 at the time he was put in my care. Upon acquiring this adorable little bundle of fur, I named him Shadow. Apparently he liked nothing better than tailing my mother around the house, nipping playfully at her heels and overturning her washing basket at every conceivable occasion.
In less than a week, Shadow became my new best friend.
To tell the truth, I felt like this little animal loved me. The more telling likelihood, however, is that he was dependant on me for attention. My parents aren’t exactly the ‘pet loving’ type and, amusingly enough, seemed apprehensive about a little wolf-like pup sharing the same house as them. However, I completely and utterly adored him. In a household where stress levels reduced everyone to the brink of insanity, he remained something of a constant, seemingly unaffected by mood swings or other trivialities which render human interaction so unbearable at times.
On one occasion, Shadow’s owner decided to drop by with Shadow’s Mom in tow. Shadow’s Mom was a ‘big bitch’ to put it lightly. Given the fact that I am using doggy terminology, this is not being unduly offensive or uncaring. This particular malamute must have weighed at least 40-something kilos. She also looked more ‘wolf like’ than any dog I’ve seen before, huskies included. It dawned on me, that in time, Shadow would lose his puppy cuteness for something else – powerful shoulders, a menacing jaw line, and eyes that only a predator can possess.
OK, maybe I am exaggerating. Shadow’s Mom was perfectly content in my company and felt at ease resting her formidable head on my lap. I, on the other hand, was not quite as comfortable. For one, her snout was so close to my crotch that any misguided sense of security I may have held was dispelled in its entirety. Second, she kept glancing up at me with a ‘You have no idea what I’m thinking or might do’ look. Sensing my unease, the owner called her back to his feet, perhaps finding the whole episode to have been highly amusing.
Some short months later, I had to return Shadow to the breeder. Being a family friend, he was wary of my obvious discomfort at parting with Shadow and asked whether I’d like to keep him. After all, he had numerous other pups from which to make a fortune. Despite my insistent begging, my parents declined the offer. I watched sadly as Shadow was laden into the back of a BMW station wagon and driven away, hopefully to find an owner who’d care for him as much as I did.
Shadow did leave a host of good memories though. Overturning the washing basket on himself and scooting around the yard, urinating on my bed every second day (young pups have no bladder control for several weeks following birth), keeping me company as I slaved away on a doctorate in the late hours of the evening, attracting some stunning female joggers to my side in various parks. Ahh yes, Shadow was a real hit with the ladies, possessing more charm than any cute baby. I’d watch him fondly as he was snuggled close to a young lady’s bosom, wondering for all the world why I could not have been born a mutt. Although proud of Shadow, I also felt a hint of jealousy because I knew that he could lick any girl’s face without having first taken her out to dinner.
I now know where the phrase ‘lucky dog’ is derived from.
Aside from simply being obscenely adorable, Shadow proved something of a mystery as well. For example, I remember watching a documentary on cats titled ‘Caressing the Tiger’ (yes, I know it’s a bad choice of title) some months back. The base message was that numerous people loved cute little kitties because of their closeness to the ‘big cats’ – lions, tigers, cheetahs and leopards oh my!! Aside from their inherent cuteness, they were also respected and admired because of their close familial ties with the world’s most feared predators.
Similarly speaking, Shadow captivated me on account of the disturbingly close genetic heritage he shared with wolves. He certainly looked like a wolf pup, with his strongly defined jaw, predatory eyes, and mass of white/grey fur. When in the company of such an animal, you feel almost privileged to have earned its affections. It amazed me to no small end that, in a few months time, he’d probably grow to a size and shape that would instil the average Joe with thoughts of whispery Transylvanian forests and of wolf packs collectively howling at the moon. For the time being, however, he appeared impeccably docile and playful, incapable of bringing down anything aside from the odd washing basket.
Playing with Shadow, I came to realise how close a human could get with an animal. I looked out for him ceaselessly, ensuring he ate well, received plentiful exercise, and was generally kept company throughout the day. It made me realise how so many of us bestow more affection on an animal than a human being. Here was something which, in a natural habitat, would act out of necessity and need alone. It would not take more than it needed, the bare essentials to facilitate survival. By comparison, his owner was of a species renowned for wanton destruction and pillaging of almost everything, including its own kind. Were Shadow capable of processing this in his little puppy head, I wonder how he’d have felt about keeping me company.
A long time has passed since I last saw Shadow when he was driven away. Shadow appeared rather reluctant to leave, mirroring my own feelings in letting him go. However, he did leave behind some treasured memories – chasing Mom around the yard as she hung up the washing, waking us up at ungodly hours with short bursts of ‘Yipe, Yipe, Yipe’ barks, urinating on my bed at his leisure, keeping me company whilst I slaved away on a doctoral thesis.
No doubt Shadow is in greener pastures now. Given his impeccable pedigree, he has probably been put out to ‘stud’, a physically exertive but nonetheless enjoyable pastime. Who knows? Several years down the track I may well end up with one of his descendants, a ‘Shadow 2’ if you will who’ll provide countless hours of loyal companionship, and see it fit to piss on my bed at his leisure ….