Roger… the dog next door.
Roger is laying in the grass. Autumn wind rustles the leaves. Clouds soar overhead without a care. His nose twitches. He swipes it with his paw. The fur along his back ruffles in the wind. He feels cool, but unsatisfied.
Through the wire fence he can see his owner. She sits in a chair under a large maple tree. Upon her lap sits the new addition to their family. Chester, a smaller breed of canine with rough curly hair and a round face. Roger does not know what to make of this little pooch. It is much smaller, makes a lot of noise, and bounces around like a ball.
Roger yawns. The afternoon sun feels glorious on his coat. Even if he is walled in by this fence, he likes having a big yard to exercise in. The grass is tall. If he were green, he might go unseen, but his bright yellow coat helps him stand out.
His owner coos to the new pup, praising it with uplifted tones. Roger turns to watch, heat stirring in his belly. She used to talk to him like that. Her soft hands would caress his head, brush the length of his back, and scratch him under his chin. He remembered playing with her, chasing the ball, the stick, the frisbee, and the rubber toys she would buy for him. Roger used to hold such a place in her heart, that he used to be allowed on the bed to sleep with her. Not anymore.
Roger lifts his head. The small pooch is put on the ground, it’s tail wagging excitedly.
Chester is on a leash. He skips over to the fence, his tail wagging uncontrollably. His large brown eyes land on Roger and he barks.
Roger hops up on his long legs, unable to help himself. He watches his owner stand and stretch. She looks at him with a strange expression. Roger does not understand, but he is happy to be included.
Chester barks again, his energy so high, he seems to bounce in place.
Roger strolls to the fence, a little unsure, but eager.
Chester begins to bound back and forth. Held by the leash he cannot bound far. He barks, his tongue wagging wildly.
Roger gets excited. He wants to play. Energy surges inside him. He jogs over to the little dog.
“Come and get him,” the woman says.
Roger looks at her, his eyes wide, his ears perked at attention. His tail stands straight up, still in the autumn wind. He senses danger, a need to protect.
Chester bounces up and down. Turning, he begins to run along the outside of the fence. His bark like a sharp tease.
Roger takes off at a full run, his instinct to catch overpowering. He runs back and forth following the small Chester without gaining any advantage. His owner runs with the small pooch, holding him steady with her leash.
“Get him Rog. You can do it.” She repeats breathlessly.
Roger begins to feel frustrated and barks loudly. He jumps as high as he can to get over the fence, but it is too high. He growls and shows his teeth. If he could get a hold of that ball of curly fluff, he would devour it. His feet slip. He cannot keep up with the quick turns of the smaller dog.
The owner comes to a stop next to the large maple tree. She is breathing heavily and leans over to rest her hands on her knees. Roger is barking loudly. Chester stares at him, his small tail wagging earnestly.
“Stop being so loud,” the woman finally says. She stands up and approaches the fence. She points a finger at Roger, “You know better than to be so noisy. What will the neighbors think?” She looks around.
Roger barks again and jumps to receive his praise for trying so hard.
“Stop it,” she says harshly.
Roger barks again. He is charged with energy. He looks at Chester and growls, then barks menacingly again.
Chester cuddles the woman’s leg. She reaches over and picks him up. Her hand lovingly stroking his head. “Don’t you worry. I won’t let that big mean dog get you.”
Roger barks again. He begins to tear through the yard. His energy nearly making him fly. He tries and tries so hard to do what he is told. He stops in front of his owner and hopes she will praise him.
Chester sneezes, his small curly body jerks from the action.
Roger watches his owner snuggle the small pooch and laugh. He stops barking and sits. Silent, he watches his owner carry the tiny dog to the front door. They disappear inside the house.
Roger sits. The autumn breeze moving the leaves over his head. He glances behind him to see the full water bowl and knows he can drink. His other bowl with food is near the porch so he can eat. There is also an overhang with a mat for him to rest on when the rain comes, so why does everything feel wrong?
He strolls over to a sunny spot, his tail down, his heart slowing. His chest hurts. Laying down with a huff, he rests his chin on his paws. He does not understand.
Through out the day, his owner will come out to play. She will bring Chester to the fence and Roger will do everything he can to engage. He blinks feeling warm sun on his back, yet he is unsatisfied, and he does not understand why. An orange and yellow butterfly flutter around him. He is too tired to chase it. He is too tired to wonder at it. Instead, he closes his eyes and tries not to dream.
©Rebecca R. Grusendorf
Is this abuse?
I’ve seen this. Most people say it is just dogs being dogs. Perhaps… than why does it make me feel so sad? Is it a reflection of something I feel within my own life? Perhaps… Or is it a common theme that I see played out in groups across the board?
All, or most of us, have been accused of trying to get attention. Either by our parents, another authority figure, or friends and co-workers. I’ve even accused myself of this, but is that an accurate assessment of the need being expressed here?
Being acknowledged as a person isn’t praise, is it?
Being seen for the individual that you are isn’t fame, is it?
Being heard and accepted for what you believe isn’t a gold medal, is it?
I think we all need to be acknowledged, seen, and heard.
This is difficult to write, because so much of the changes in our world are due to people feeling like they have not been seen, heard, or acknowledged. It is as if the understanding we tried to give, failed… and that is hard to accept.
Recently, I re-watched The Chosen
In the first season there is a scene where a leper approaches Jesus on the road. The group following Jesus gasp and shun this man who has a contagious disease. They tell him to go away, that he is unclean.
Jesus approaches the leper, and the afflicted man says “Please, please, don’t turn away from me.” Jesus responds simply, “I won’t.”
Often, we are asked to stop being so negative, to stop talking about the hurts that happen in this world, in our towns, and in our households. Perhaps it is because in facing those who suffer, we are exposed to feelings that are hard to experience, the ones we try to avoid. My sadness over the dog’s kind of thing. I want the suffering to end so I no longer feel sad, but it isn’t that simple unfortunately. Compassion cannot be given to alleviate the suffering of self. It is an offering to another, a selfless gesture.
Further along in that scene, the leper tells Jesus “If You are willing, I know You can make me clean.”
How many of us are willing to help? We are not Jesus, but the premise is the same.
A homeless person holds out their cup, if you are willing to help, they may be able to buy a meal.
One of your friends just got fired and has no idea how they are going to pay their mortgage. If you help, they may be able to hold on until they find another job.
A girlfriend just put her ailing parent in a nursing home, she is filled with shame and cries constantly. If you help, she may find comfort in knowing that some hard choices must be made sometimes, and she is not alone.
Your best friend just lost his kids in the divorce, and he wants to go binge drinking. If you help, he may be able to wait out his helplessness long enough to work on the problem instead of drowning it.
A person you work with just lost a child to illness. If you help, they may feel less alone and not be angry at themselves or God for the tragedy that happened.
Helping isn’t just money. It can be as simple as a smile, a hug, a nod of understanding. “I See you in your pain.” Sometimes it is just listening. Letting someone tell you their story or cry or scream. By seeing them hurt, we acknowledge their being, their life, their importance.
This write kind of got away from me, but I’ve been holding it inside for a while now. I hope it resonates with some of you. Please tell me what you think or feel about this topic. I will listen and read every comment. Thank you for taking time to share with me. Blessings of Light.
Rebecca R. Grusendorf