Friday, June 10, 2016

King, the Man-Dog

Once there was a dog named, King.

He lived in a house with my grandfather and grandmother.

As children, we were told by our grandfather that King was part German Shepherd and part WOLF...and we believed it. He was an odd blonde dog that stayed by my grandfather's side whenever he wasn't working. When my grandfather worked overnight at the steel mill, King laid between the kitchen and dining room, blocking the way to the bathroom but also right where he could protect my grandmother, if necessary. I like to believe that is why our grandfather got King in the first place. To guard his treasure. His wife.

Did I mention that King could speak?

My Mom and grandmother were witnesses to the day the doorbell rang and King, being King, knew he would have to go outside or into the back bedroom. He slowly picked himself up and said, "Oh, shit!".

His regular saying was "I don't know." but he frequently disguised it as a yawn.

When they were on their back porch relaxing, there you could find King. Faithful, watchful, always in the way, King. We, at least, I, couldn't tell when he was watching us kids or sleeping most of the time. I always felt a pair of eyes on us. That could be a young girl's imagination. So, I continued to jump rope, play hopscotch, bounce balls, and sit on the steps slurping popsicles and wondering what it would be like to climb the huge crabapple tree in the backyard. Weird as I was, and am, I always felt King was 'judging' me in some way. What a strange thought! As far as I know, King considered us as pieces of furniture!

Strangely, as I think of feeding my friend's dog while I stayed with her for a bit (although she had a rule not to feed him from the table!), we never fed King. We never played with him. Only our grandfather was allowed to toss the ball for King. Now, my friend's dog was sweet and curious, liked being pet and had a "little boy" bark for a German Shepherd. Chester immediately took a liking to me and would stand by me, sitting, and push his nose under my breast. OK. He was an odd one. My husband began calling him Chester the Molester. But, we split some Mexican food one night so we were cool, Chester and I. But, I digress.

Back to my earlier doggy experiences, our grandfather would get the can of Alpo, dump it into King's dish, and shmush it around a bit with the can to break it up. I remember absolutely hating the smell of it and the sound of it. When I eventually tried canned corn beef hash, I went back to that memory...Ugh!

King never bothered us and we never bothered him. We, instinctively, knew not to. Unless he was blocking the path to the dining room. Then he'd stay still while we jumped or stepped over him. No. King would not budge for anyone but the grandparents. Even then he might have required a shove with a slippered foot.

King was always there to send our grandfather off to work the 3rd shift and he was there to welcome him back in the morning. I often wonder if each time King might have had the thought that our grandfather was never coming back each night. King wasn't a 'jumpy' happy dog. He was a 'chill' one. King made note and went back to lie down if anything happened out of the ordinary. He just did his job as being protector and Man's best friend for many, many years.

I think King was always an old dog. We never made it past the one-sided admiration I secretly had for him.

I miss that proud old dog.