The Great Dog Trotsky lived with us for 14.5 years. He was half Siberian Husky and half German Shepherd, weighed a prodigious 100 pounds, and took no prisoners. He was a tough customer and, like a tyrannosaurus, he would just as soon scavenge than hunt.
We fed him twice a day. Once, when he was about six, my wife forgot to feed him in the evening. The next morning, at about ten minutes before he would usually be fed, he began to bark in my wife’s face. And he continued that habit, morning and night, for the rest of his life.
Apparently, his tolerance for missed meals was exactly one. When my wife was seated, Trotsky was eye level with her, and if you stood, he could stand on his hind legs, put his front paws on your shoulders, and stare you right in the eye.
I don’t know what internal clock, through solstices, equinox, and leap years, enabled him to determine when it was ten minutes prior to being fed, but he knew unfailingly. When he started to bark our terrier would simply head for the kitchen.
I believe that too many of us set too high a tolerance for failure to support us, to respond to us, to assist us. Bovine-like, we take our ticket and take our seat, hoping that the line will move rapidly for our driver’s license, social security card, or sliced Provolone. We continue to complain to authorities who are paid to absorb complaints as if they were sponges, wrung out at night by corporate management, and ready to absorb again tomorrow. Does it really help to complain to low level people in the cable company, or at the cell phone service, or at the time share?
I always admired Trotsky because, even though he lived in a fine place and was taken care of and protected, he never took it for granted and always looked out for himself. He carefully inspected my son’s and daughter’s friends, and made his own judgments, which were quite clear. (One of my son’s life-long friends recently got a dog and named him “Trotsky” in fond memory of finally being accepted by him long ago.) He almost killed a man once in our pool room whom he thought was overly aggressive with my wife (he was, because he was smitten, but that’s another column). I’m convinced Trotsky didn’t act that way out of fealty or obligation, but because he knew what was right and wrong in his world.
We all deserve to have healthy outrage. We should stop accepting those who don’t support us, whose products and services are beneath our standards, and who drain away our oxygen.
I miss Trotsky every day, despite the terrific dogs who now live with us. But I keep his memory fresh, trying to perpetuate his fine points.
I don’t, of course, bark at my wife ten minutes prior to dinner. But then again, we eat out every night.
© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.