“Hey what’s up!? Want a puppy?” asked the guy from the seafood department as he walked up to the deli counter.
“What kind of dog are they?” He told me they were muts, Pit and Mastiff,. A customer cried “hello!” Alex went back to his counter.
The next time I saw Alex I told him I wanted to check out the puppies. A day later we went to see them.
We pull up to the house and hear the parents of the pups alarm their owners that someone was approaching – loud deep barks. The door opens and the woman with one hand on the door knob uses the other to waves us in. We enter and are immediately greeted by the mother, a short and stocky Red Nose Pit Bull and the father a not so tall but hefty Mastiff. Both of them calm but the father less curious wandered off after a few sniffs. The mother stood close as we were led to her litter.
A small kiddie fence was used to keep the puppies in the kitchen. There were about eight of them. All except one were up close, front paws on the barrier and their hind legs bouncing them up and down. Some were panting happily others whimpered a bit. The one, he was at the back end of the mini corral, sitting upright, head bowed but his eyes looking right into mine. I picked him.
He sat on my lap all the way home. Alex pulled up onto the driveway – I got out and put the shy pup on the ground. I took a few steps and he followed. I walked further and he followed. I walked in a wide circle and he also drew a circle.
For three days I couldn’t come up with a name for him. I would watch him as he hung out in the backyard trying to decide on his identity. I know I tried a few that he didn’t respond to but I can’t remember what those names were. On the third night I dreamed that I was traveling up a mountain in a convertible car (I would never buy a convertible). Flying in front of this car was a a huge purple owl. As I reach the top of the mountain he lands on a rock formation, an arch over the road, like a doorway, and looks at me. He doesn’t say it but at that moment I knew this owl’s name was Radio. As soon as that registered in my mind, he takes off and again I follow.
We get to the top of the mountain and all of the sudden the car is gone and I’m standing. In front of me is a huge stone, the length and height of a dining room table. The owl, Radio, lands on it, lays on its side, uses a wing to cover himself from head to talons and then dies and I wake up.
It was early but not exactly morning, I go to the backyard and yell “Radio!” Right away in a light trot he came to me, tail wagging. I then called out a few more times “Radio!” His attention was immediate, his name is Radio.
About six months pass.
I open the kitchen door that leads into the back yard. Radio darts in. I tell him to go back outside and he doesn’t listen. I bend down and start to push him out. Little fucker growls for a couple of seconds then snaps. He turns and actually tries to bite me. Nope, you don’t do that shit little doggie. One hand holding his hind legs and my other gripping his neck just behind his lower jaw I flip him onto his, fast and kinda hard so he feels it. I look into his eyes, stare for a bit then sternly say “Radio, NO!” I could see in his eyes that he understood what he did wrong. I let go, both hands at the same time. His laying there without my grips confirmed that he knew he fucked up. He never did it again. Ever.
Our bond was strong, I felt his emotions when he was happy, angry, sad or just bothered – we were connected at the spirit.
On one of his walks a few houses down a neighbor was on his porch. He walked down his steps and midway on his lawn threw both his hands and arms up saying “whuzzz upppp!” At that instant, in defense Radio reacted aggressively. With a deep growl he leaps forward hard and fast, so much so that when the leash drew straight and taut, his body left the ground. It was a nice surprise. My neighbor remarked “it’s coo. that dog’s got your back man, we’ll talk another time” and went inside his house.
A year, maybe two goes by.
I take Radio on a late night/morning walk, probably around 2 .am. At the beginning of our walk on the sidewalk a young woman is pacing back and forth smoking a cigarette while talking on her phone. We pass her and it’s like Radio doesn’t hear her or see her – pays her no attention. We do our usual route and on our return across the street at a house that had been abandoned for months I see a male figure round the front porch and head towards the backyard along the driveway. I lead Radio across the street just to walk past. As we near the driveway corner of the property the stranger is on his way out. I greet him “what’s up man?” He answers “what’s up.” At this point Radio lowers his body, levels his head with his back like a panther about to pounce and growls low, deep and steady for a good three seconds. I ask the guy if he lived in the area. At the first sound of his voice Radio begins again with the growl his posture hasn’t changed. He tells me that he’s staying in the duplex next door with a cousin. He stops talking, Radio stops growling. I ask him what he’s up to and tell him “my dog never reacts like this.” He replies accompanied by Radio’s growl “nothing man, it’s cool, I’m going home.” He walks off and Radio standing tall looks up at me. Between his ears just above his brow I pat him hard enough to animate his head up and down, he liked it “Good boy Radio, gooo boooi” and we head home.
Radio underestimated them. A morning walk. He catches a scent just a few houses up. Houses are on our left. He’s strong so he’s leading while chasing this trail. In a driveway there is car parked, its rear bumper almost over the sidewalk. What ever he smells is under this car. We just left the house so I let him sniff close. His head is practically underneath the car when from the shadow a cat’s forearm and paw swats1 – THUMPT THUMPT THUMPT – quick furry flashes. Each one connects and Radio looks back at me, his eyes a bit sad asking me “what the fuck was that?” He didn’t know what hit him and didn’t care to retaliate. He continued forward.
A few years later. Doom.
Radio is up there in age, but not exactly a senior yet. Doom, my Cain Terrier is a little punk. Too smart for his own good. I had to separate Radio from Doom because in Doom’s eyes, Radio’s playing was real fighting. I’m in Radio’s portion of the the yard and as usual I left the gate open so Doom can roam and sniff while I change Radio’s water and fill his dish with food. Water’s fresh, food bowl full, I’m petting Radio – Doom circles us and out of nowhere decides to bite Radio in that small thin stretch of skin between the upper hind leg and body of a dog. Radio snaps. Within a blink of an eye, he shoves Doom with his snout, Doom goes rolling and Radio follows and stops him with a paw to the chest – Doom is on his back. Radio reaches grabs Doom by the neck, lifts him off the ground and starts to swing. I yell at him to stop…nothing. He hates water so I hose him…nothing. I try to pry his mouth open, his eyes connected with mine I see “what the fuck are you doing, he fucking bit me, I’m gonna kill him.” So I pick him up, his hind legs dangling, my arms wrapped around his upper body just under his front legs – Doom still in his mouth, his little eyes open wide in fear and now struggling to breath, I bear hug Radio squeezing him as hard as I could. Finally he lets go, Doom dropped to the ground and bolted straight to the kitchen door and sat – like waiting for someone to let him in. I let go of Radio and had to race him to the gate that separates them. He was in a rage and his focus was all on Doom, I close the gate. Doom sat at the foot of the door staring back at Radio and I. Radio didn’t take his eyes off of Doom for a good ten minutes and was so angry that he was trembling the whole time. I hugged him and calmed him down. After this incident Doom never again approached me if Radio was close. Lesson learned.
The inevitable. Age.
Radio is twelve now. He’s slow. Still, he gets excited when he sees me holding his leash and harness. “Let’s go for a walk Big Du Du” Slowly he stands happily and and pants much slower than the prior months as I secure him for his stroll. We leave the backyard. Once through the front door he stops at the edge of the three porch steps, pauses for a second then clumsily walks down. We only went two blocks – he was exhausted. On our way back about five houses away from ours he took a few steps on a lawn and because it was uneven he tripped and almost fell but in the stumble he managed to regain his footing – I’ll never forget it – just after he almost ate shit he looked up at me and I could see in his eyes a certain confusion – like, “what the fuck just happened to me?” or “what is happening to me?” I think he somehow understood his time was near.
I had to carry up the porch stairs. He stopped in front of them and when our eyes met I knew he could not climb the three steps. At the kitchen door, he stopped in front of the four small stairs leading down to the backyard, he looked at me as if to carry him. I didn’t. I should have. He started to make his way down the steps but his legs gave up on him when his leading paw landed on the first step. He tumbled all the way down. I felt so bad because I ignored his ‘carry me stare.’ He managed to stand up on his own and again gave me that look like “what’s happening to me?” or more like “why is my body failing me?”
The next three days I let out from his side of the yard to roam while I walked Doom and Nessie (chihuahua mix). On the fourth day I bought him and the other two dogs their favorite thing to eat, an all natural log of chicken. Doom and Nessie devoured theirs, Radio only took a few bites then just stood over his dish looking at me. I left him alone. Later that night I heard him whimper, when I went out to him he was on his blanket barely able to lift his head his breathing was heavy and the way he was laying told me that he was trying get up onto his paws but couldn’t. I positioned him the way he liked to sleep sat and held his head on my lap a long while. My sister and mother suggested the vet, that maybe he was just sick, he didn’t look well. I made sure he was comfortable that night, covered him in case he got cold and I went to bed. I knew he was dying.
The next morning he cried out to/for me the same way he would when he would hear my car as I parked it when I arrived from my job. I was lucky that day because I was scheduled to close, a 1-10pm shift, I didn’t miss his call. I go out to him and find him a few feet from where I left him. He was facing the wall and was only able to lift his head. I picked him up and placed him on his blanket, again with his head on my lap I looked into his eyes and he was distant, but he knew I was there, I felt his acknowledgement. About two hours go by, his breathing is slower but steady. I debated calling out, not going in for my shift but he seemed calm and his breathing though labored was at a good pace. I thought to myself ‘I’ll be responsible and go in.’ As I always did when I left him, I told him “I’ll be back.”
While in the shower, I remembered he was under one of the two guava trees – at that time of year the fruits randomly fall from the branches. So the last thing I was going to do was place a table over him so he wouldn’t get hit. FUCKING JOB! When I got to him he was gone. His eyes were still open. I should have called out. I wasn’t there for his last breath. In tears i walked back inside and told my job i was not going in because dog just passed away. I didn’t go in the next day either.
The company I work for isn’t a bad one but like anywhere else mistakes are made and people that shouldn’t be are placed in high positions. When I returned my assistant told me that the store director called him up to the office minutes after I called and asked him to write me up for not calling out an hour before my shift – he refused. My dog died. And this store manager didn’t give a fuck – cared more about her “authority.”
I miss you Radio.