ME AND MY BUDDY
Adventures with my four-legged Middle Eastern companion
* * *
Still frightened from the intruder who leaped over my seven-foot-high wall the evening before, I wanted a dog but that dog wouldn’t frighten a rabbit. Read that story here: http://amybovaird.com/my-first-glimpse/
She tried one last time. “Amy, you know even a docile dog will scare off one of the locals, if that’s who the intruder is. You’ll be safer with this sweet dog than you would be alone.”
I paused. “You’re right. Okay, I’ll get ‘im.”
She looked relieved. “You’ll see. You’re making the right choice.”
As we approached the dog, he didn’t do anything except watch us. When Bettie-Lou scooped him up in her arms, his short black legs dangled from beneath her arms. He didn’t show any curiosity or fear. He simply let whatever was about to happen to him, happen.
And this was the dog that would protect me?
At home, I put him inside the gate and stroked his dusty black coat. He looked skinny but less like a goat than he did earlier. Now I saw he resembled a black lab except he had shorter legs than any black lab I ever saw. We stayed “in the garden,” (we Americans say “in the yard”). Before we had time to bond, the new Egyptian gardener showed up.
Ihab, my ex-husband hired him to replace the gardener he took with him when he moved out of the house.
The new gardener frustrated me because he didn’t understand much of my broken Arabic and he didn’t speak English. Not much work seemed to get done. Ihab was getting tired of having to translate. The new gardener smiled in front of his countryman but when I spoke to him, he made a lot of faces. I don’t think he liked working for a woman. He didn’t seem to like the dog much either from the grimace I saw on his face.
I switched to English. “Whatever you do, DO NOT let the dog out of the gate.” Buddy would get lost even before he ate his first meal. I went inside to prepare some food for him.
An hour later, I brought out the food. “Hey you, mister goat-dog! Here’s some chicken and rice…”
The gardener had gone. Apparently, so had the dog.
I searched everywhere for that skinny black dog. My heart sank; the gardener must have let him out when he left. I went to the gate and shouted for him. But I didn’t know what to call him. “Doggieeeee? Come here. Be a buddy. Buddeeeee!”
Terrified of the intruder returning, that night I called Ihab to stay with me.
And the next night.
“I’m afraid,” I said simply.
“You need to work out another solution.”
But what? “Just one more night?” I pleaded.
That day I set some food by the gate, and I noticed that it was GONE in the morning. The dog!
“Doggie! Hey, Buddeee!”
From the inside of the gate, the black dog appeared. “Where did you come from? Who ate the food outside the gate then if you were here?” At any rate, the dog was back! “We need to have a name for you!” I paused. “How about Buddy?”
He seemed pleased enough with his new name, and followed me to my door this time. I brought him some fresh chicken and rice, which he gobbled up in about three seconds. “Oh, you poor thing!”
I had to go in and cook him some more. He ate it as soon as I brought it out. He stayed all day. When it started to get dark, he disappeared under the bushes. “Is that where you’ve been? Oh, Buddy!”
Little by little, Buddy became more social. He never chased my stray cat population and he followed me everywhere.
The strange thing about this dog was that he never, ever barked.
After nearly two months, I shared this with the vet. “And the minute it gets dark, he goes under the bushes. Every night.”
“He could very well be deaf,” she said with a firm nod. “I believe he is. And as to going under the bush, why, he’s afraid of the dark!”
I never heard of a dog being afraid of the dark.
“Yes, he could have been a pet at one time. And he’s not very ferocious, as you can see. Sometimes to make dogs bolder, they’re put in a dark room. But it has the reverse effect. I believe that’s what happened.”
“Ohhhh.” Well, so much for a watchdog, and protector! By this time, we’d bonded. And maybe, just owning a dog deterred the intruder. He never came back. Besides, I couldn’t give Buddy up now. I didn’t need a dog that barked. Buddy liked his routine of going under the bushes at night, so he lived outdoors and actually made friends with the stray cats.
When the other teachers got wind of Buddy’s “shortcomings,” they hooted at his credentials for the job. “You got a deaf watchdog that’s afraid of the dark! Ha ha ha!”
I, too, laughed at the irony of it.
One afternoon, the electricity man came to take a reading. Guess what? Buddy barked!
That ruined any goodwill between the Pakistani meter reader and me from that point on but my heart sang. My Buddy was not deaf, after all!
My Buddy barked. He was not deaf, after all!
That summer when I visited the States, Rosy, the Indian friend who stayed to care for all my animals, invited Buddy into the house…and that was the last he ever hid under the bushes!
Buddy taught me that sometimes trust comes gradually but once it’s offered, it’s rooted as deeply as those bushes were to the ground he slept under. Once he was a passive creature who preferred to retreat to his safe haven at the onset of his fears. But Buddy showed me that we can move past our fears, little by little, to joyfully interact with others. My dog developed a loving personality that invited everyone he came into contact with to cherish him.
I’m afraid of the dark, too. As blindness brings more darkness into my world, I might be tempted to hide by myself where I feel safe. But I won’t. Buddy was courageous enough to step through the darkness and see what else he could experience without limiting himself by the shadows.
I pray for courage to step through my darkness to continually explore what else I can experience without letting the deepening shadows limit me either.
You’ve just read “My Deaf Watchdog,” © Amy Bovaird, January 2014. If you enjoyed it, please SHARE with a friend or LIKE it. Do also leave a comment! Thanks!