Thursday, July 25, 2013

Monty.

Monty came to us a little broken. He'd been shuttled around from rescue to rescue so often that any time a car door opened, he'd mournfully shuffle towards it, tail dragging like a canine Eeyore.

He was missing one of his big lower teeth, never made a peep, and didn't really know how to play. You'd throw a ball for him and he'd just stare it and then look up at you with these big brown eyes. He didn't care about anyone who only gave him passing attention. You had to put in your time with Monty to get affection from him, and affection from him was simple: he wanted to hold hands.

He'd come sit by you, and just rest his paw on your foot, or your leg. He didn't want you to scratch him or shake it, or anything but just sit there and hold his hand and maybe talk to him. There's no other way to say it: that dog was noble. That dog was Atticus Finch.

Our other dog Cleo, younger and more sprightly is a fine dog, a sweet dog, but... She's just a dog. She's not a soul who just happens to be currently in a dog costume. You throw the ball, she fetches it. Then you have to yell at her for a couple of minutes until she finally fucking drops it.

It took nearly three years for Monty to understand what "playing" meant. The first time he took a loping stride towards a ball I chucked, I immediately reported it to my dad. Monty didn't do it again for months. Instead, I would bring another ball, which he would happily keep in his jaws, right where that big lower tooth should be, and sit by me, paw on my foot, while I chucked another ball for the puppy.

One day at the beach, I tossed a tennis ball down the way for Cleo, who immediately lost sight of the thing and started digging for it about 20 feet away from its position in plain view. Lo, Monty pulled himself up onto his aging hips and loped down the beach with clear purpose. He nabbed that ball without Cleo noticing, and started back.

It was "Chariots of Fire."

It was the Olympic torch relay.

He trotted back, tail up, chest out and looked right up at me.

Reader, I burst into tears and threw my arms around him.

He kept that ball in his mouth the rest of the day, and sat by me through lunch and dinner, one paw on my foot, the whole while long.