It was a cautious respect. I wouldn’t hurt him so long as he did the same.
THE day we met he scared me, leaping from behind the fence, his countenance in full attack mode.
A brindle colored dog, half pit bull, half mutt coming at me as if to attack but now stopped. His instincts sharp, an animal of the streets no doubt.
I introduced myself in my own street-wise fashion by raising both arms and lunging at him, teeth bared and screaming a mighty roar.
Stopped now, mid-charge, he stood there, bewildered. I suspect he knew he wouldn’t fair well in a fight with me. Or maybe he thought I was crazy. For whatever the reason, he didn’t attack.
From that day on, neither would bare their teeth again.
Both wary of one another and the harm we could inflict, we kept our distance, this despite his nightly return.
Some nights, he would sit curled up against the fence, watching me, until I’d gotten too close for his liking as he bolted for safety.
On one such night, he was simply too tired to run, simply laying there exhausted. He needed food.
It wasn’t a fair fight between us any longer, not with him in this condition. I chose to do something about it. After all, his being healthy served our tenuous relationship. I wanted him strong. I fed him.
This changed our relationship. I was now a food source instead of a combatant.
Not a friend.
Or a pet-lover.
Simply a means to his own instinctive survival.
I liked the relationship.
I didn’t want to be his friend—I didn’t want the responsibility.
I didn’t want to care for another being.
But I didn’t want to see him die either, a result of his being too weak to fight the coyotes that came haunting nightly.
If they did come for him, it should be a fair fight I thought, for I knew he’d fair well. But not in this condition. He needed help.
Weeks went by as I watched him get strong, the result of my looking after him, feeding him, making sure he had water on those hot desert nights.
Until one day when upon his seeing me, he began barking again.
I was glad for him, he was back.
The brindle colored dog who once threatened my being was now at full strength in all his glory.
And yet only for a brief moment.
As mysteriously as the day he showed up, he had now vanished.
I always knew of this eventuality. I knew it was his nature to roam, but somehow I’d hoped for more time with him, thinking how maybe someday we would be friends. But it wasn’t meant to be.
And so it is.
Another being, mysteriously entering and exiting my life.
I hope to someday know why.
I miss brindle dog.
I miss my old friends.
I loved you all in my own way.
But like brindle dog, I just needed more time.