I have often met people who say that their cat is like a dog or that their dog is just like their baby or that their bird understands what they are saying. Now is not the time to disagree with those things…nor do I really. I have said all those things myself.
But MY dog thinks he is human and not just any human. Royalty.
Every time we venture out for a our afternoon stroll he starts out walking right beside me with a shy and uneasy presence. He stays close to his equal and companion and looks at very little but the road ahead.
It only takes moments for my pooch to turn from a pauper to a pompous a–. All it takes is one person – one individual to break the spell and make warty slime into flesh and blood. (Doesn’t seem to work the same with other dogs. Doesn’t give a rip about them.) I don’t often volunteer Winston for petting sessions for this very reason. I have to keep the peace somehow. But sometimes…sometimes it’s just unavoidable. Sometimes the masses come and there is nothing I can do.
And suddenly the clouds open from above, Winston appears with crown and royal robe and “the lady of the lake, clad in the purest shimmering samite” comes to bestow upon Sir Winston Churchill III all his rightly deserved praise.
Really, the person just pets his head but without a doubt I can’t get him to calm down the rest of the excursion. He knows now that his loyal subjects adore him and that they have been waiting for him to arrive and free them from their boredom. And he now knows he must lead this pitiful waif (me) home before she embarrasses him by tripping on his royal tresses.
The other day I was walking him as usual and heard children scream as I rounded the corner. I thought that I had scared some innocent neighborhood youths with my enormous and frightening beast. But Winston knew better. Despite my attempts to walk quickly and pull him on out of their sight, he stood still, legs square, chest puffed out and head raise to meet his public.
To my surprise the children ran not away but to him stopping only to ask if he was “nice” and then unabashedly smothering his face and back with little fingers and hands. He might as well have been riding in an old bright red Mustang in the Fourth of July parade. But he did not pull away or shrink in fear from the crowd around him but welcomed then with all the dignity and honor of a king.
Finally, I pulled him away, sort of embarrassed that I had not received as beautiful of a welcome myself and just as I thought I was out of range and safe from the hoards I heard a small voice call to me saying, “What’s his name?!”
I looked back to see a little brown face shining with delight at the dog.
I said, “Winston.”
Then he said with a shy sweetness I have rarely encountered, “Heeeeeey, Wiiiiinstooooonnn.” And with that spun on his heal and ran back to him yard.
Winstupid dragged me home that day…as well he should.