I was a little cranky the other day. I didn’t have a good reason. There seldom is. According to Dale Carnegie, the worst habit you can have is the habit of feeling sorry for yourself. I agree, but that afternoon I had barely managed to pull myself away from that most detestable of emotions, self pity.
I had walked away down the dock of the Marina to escape my funk. For me its kind of like getting away from myself. I leave my former self behind at a brisk pace and in a few minutes I feel better. Physiologically the improvement in mood can be attributed to increased endorphins, but its not that simple. I know I am not alone in my habit of walking off the blues or jogging away from the edge of the black abyss of potential depression. I see people walking briskly, talking away to themselves with careless abandon. They are comfortable in the knowledge that the blue tooth headset that protrudes cyborg like from their ear has folks convinced they are conversing with someone other than just themselves.
It is a cover I have fortunately not needed to use. We have a dog. Dogs listen to what ever you have to say. They are happy to do so as long as your tone does not startle or confuse them. If you want to feel really bad about yourself try explaining and comforting your dog when your last outburst cast to the heavens has caused your dog to cower. If you don’t feel bad about your behavior at that point then I suggest you seek professional help or consider putting your dog up for adoption.
Proceeding along the boardwalk of the Marina I passed by the harbor masters office and waved to one of the Marina’s general laborers. He is a tall middle aged man of perhaps Garifuna descent who is usually either singing or shouting a greeting to somebody. This greeting was directed at me and I know I should have smiled when I waved but I didn’t have it in me yet.
Paula was busy on the computer with a story and our dog Zoey is just getting too old and slow for the pace I needed to walk. I would have to walk alone and get myself back in the groove. We have decided not to get another dog when Zoey passes away and although its the correct thing to do we struggle with the logic versus the emotional benefits of having a dog.We are dog people.
I rounded the corner of the Marina and was accelerating along the covered storage berths of the Marina when I caught motion. A black movement from under the boat just passed. Instant recognition on both our parts but for me a mixture of happy and sad. We had named this dog Smiley. He had a most curious smile that accompanied his vigorous tail wagging and low vocalization that could be only called a greeting. Smiley’s greeting and its meaning was as clear as any creole I had heard between native Belizeans. The last time I had seen Smiley I had figured it to be our last. He was barely more than a pup and it was obvious that he would never see old age. A car or truck had clipped his back right leg and it swung uselessly from his hip. There was no smile and no appetite left in Smiley and when a few days had passed I had resigned myself to the possibility that Smiley had limped off some where to die alone.
I was wrong. Smiley limped towards me looking about as pathetic as a hurt dog can. His smile wasn’t there and his tail wag was just slight, causing his leg to flail out to the side as he held it off the dirt. I patted his filthy head said a few things I wouldn’t want my fellow tough guy pilots to know and walked back to our RV.
I told Paula about Smiley when I got back. She made up some food and water containers and took them over to him. It was an act of kindness for a dog I still knew wouldn’t likely live.
Wrong again. Smiley shows up at our RV on a regular basis these days. His leg still flails around and when he tries to pee he often forgets that leg doesn’t lift and well you can imagine the result. Smiley is back to his old self though, talking and smiling, giving the other dogs a charge when they get close to his food pile. Yeah, we feed the stray dogs here, just like I did at the airport in Greece last summer. Its a charity we can afford and it does good for man and beast, heart and soul.
You can learn a lot about life from a dog.
To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace. ~Milan Kundera