Lessons from a Half-Breed Hound


He almost never walks beside me; he either tries to tug me ahead, or he lags behind (if he's not going completely sideways, that is).

In safe areas where he is free to roam to his heart's content, he nearly always heads straight for the fence. If there's a way out, he'll generally try to take it - even though the grass within the enclosure is much easier on his feet than the pavement on the busy street beyond. He consistently tests boundaries.

I clean up the messes he leaves, and he moves along unconcerned... oblivious to the unpleasantness of the task he made for me.

He sometimes fights with others of his kind for absolutely no reason. He sticks his nose in places that are none of his business; he claims and marks things for himself that don't belong to him.

He sometimes ignores my voice. He doesn't seem to hear repeated calls of his own name. He is largely without affection, but gladly receives it in moments when it suits him. And when he does want attention, he wants it immediately.  He can be downright needy. 

I give him clean water; he drinks dirty. I provide him with good food; he eats garbage. I try to care for his ailments; he resists my efforts. He seems opposed to so much of what is best for him.

Every day I do these things, yet he can be aloof and disobedient, sometimes needlessly risking his safety. Is he completely unaware of how brief his life already is, that he would run straight into the way of danger?

He wanders away from home. So far he has managed to make it back - always coming to check on me as if I was the one who had been missing. Will he make it back if he wanders off again?

After all of the time that he has been in my care, he often seems to have learned nothing. I am his master; I could send him away any time he displeased me. He would not fare as well if he had to fend for himself.

But I have not yet been willing to let him go. To do that would be very hard for me, because I love him.

My dog's name is Jack. He reminds me of someone else I know.