Charlie Knew Two Things
He was a smart dog. Many dogs are. But what Charlie knew was more than where the cookie jar was kept or how to spell W. A. L. K. He knew a couple of things I could do with knowing better myself. When he was a year old I had to put up a sign for the humans in the house – Don’t open this door without checking if the dog is at your feet. Someone missed the sign as I’d only written it on a board about half the size of China. Charlie shot out. I ran into the public street screaming after him, “come here you little bastard.” But he was much too busy sniffing the world, marking the lampposts and ducking in and out of traffic to pay any attention to me. This went on for a long time, a couple of near heart attacks and an imagined stroke – all mine and no one else’s. Eventually I managed to entice him into a field across the road where he then sped around the peripherals daring me to catch him. He loved this game. His favourite part was when I would dive full-length rugby tackle style mucking my good shirt but coming up dogless as he sidestepped gracefully. Then I got inspired. I dropped down in the middle of the field and played dead. It took him a minute to become concerned. He approached cautiously. Convinced by my Oscar worthy performance that I really was a goner he began to lick my face. I grabbed him. He didn’t struggle. It had been a good day and he knew there would be many more. Years later, when we lived on a farm in The Netherlands, Charlie and his ‘sister’ Ella would run through the woods with me. One day I tripped over a root and fell flat on my face. I wasn’t hurt. The dogs could see that but what struck me in a weird way was that they weren’t laughing at me. C’mon let’s face it - had they been humans they’d have been clutching their sides convulsed with merriment - nothing is quite as amusing to us as a grown man falling snoot first in the muck. I was embarrassed but Charlie just glanced my way as if to say, “get up and get on with it.” So I did. He loved to bark at the thunder. I’d let him out the back kitchen door because otherwise he’d deafen me. The sky would roar. Charlie would roar back. Then the dark clouds would rumble like the world was coming to an end. Charlie would raise the woof levels and continue relentlessly. In the end of course the elements would move on leaving this medium-sized black dog to strut back into the kitchen ‘mission accomplished’ written all over his face. “Charlie,” I’d say, “That’s a waste of energy. The storm goes away whether you bark at it or not.” He would consider my point but his reply was always the same. “Maybe, but I can’t risk it.” To this day I think I was right about the thunder but Charlie knew two things. Life is for living to the full and when you fall down flat on your face don’t waste a second worrying about what people might think – just get up and get on with it.