Kahu and I enjoy lounging on a bench in the neighborhood park where all the dog people go, along with lovers intertwined on their beach blankets oblivious to those of us who believe in discretion. Even Kahu stares at them with curiosity, probably wondering why they put their love on display. You wouldn’t catch me slobbering over the pretty girl Mastiff walking next to a nice man smiling at the bright and sunny day. I now notice Kahu staring in his direction at the same time the Mastiff runs toward us and sits next to me with an uncomfortable familiarity. I worry about not being able to control myself at the same time I feel her wet tongue slide across my face as though we’ve known each other forever. The man runs like a greyhound trying to catch his dog while yelling apologies. He leans over to pick up her inert body which weighs 120 pounds and has no intention of leaving my side. Now, she’s holding onto me. I hear tears of loneliness coming from a heart that has never gotten over a harsh puppyhood despite being near my own age of around three years old. I rest my head on top of her head in an effort to assuage the memories.

The man loves her and is at a loss to help relieve the anguish she’s whispering into my ear. I pick up the thread and offer her my comfort whenever she needs to rehash the unpleasantness of a past gone by leaving several scars running across her side where a hunter shot her with a rifle. Her woeful story brings me to tears, but I suck up the emotion long enough to see both Kahus looking at us not knowing what to do. A small crowd begins to gather.

“I’m John and this is Bernard.” I wish he would give me a prefix like Dawg Bernard when introducing my handsome self to people. They shake hands like the rose leaning against me ain’t having a nervous breakdown.

“Skip and this is Bella. Pleasure meeting you even under these circumstances.” They return to staring at us along with the small crowd holding their concerned dogs. I guess none of ‘em has ever seen a Mastiff cry before. Frankly, can’t say I’ve been in such a situation myself. Never seen very many Mastiffs walking down the street, instead preferring a field or a five-bedroom house with air conditioning. There’s a run on Golden Retrievers grinning and begging to be petted with a serious affinity for affection. Even my Kahu is given to hug one now and again. Not that I blame him none when a male Golden stands on his hind legs and hangs off Kahu’s shoulders like he wants to take him home.

This big boy has had enough. I get ahold of the situation by chomping down on Bella’s leash and leading her in the direction of my backyard where we can have some privacy. I hear the two Kahus hurrying behind us talking a mile a minute, exchanging their life stories, personal interests, and how they came to take in such large dogs. Apparently, Bella is a purebred bought from a reputable breeder. I got a lot of opinions on this subject and if Kahu let me, I would hang a sign off my back saying, ADOPT DON’T BREED. Most of my buddies on the dog grapevine share their sad stories on how they ended up on the streets or in a kennel trying to work up a smile for the first human who looks kind enough to offer a pleasant living situation without too much commotion. Most suffer from shattered nerves so need a quiet home environment where the resident human offers PTSD counselling.

Once arriving, I open the garden gate with my paw and hustle Bella inside followed by the two Kahus talking about tennis. I pull out the blanket we use for sunning ourselves on the grass during a warm day. Bella and I lower ourselves and begin a conversation on the silent current. When feeling crowded, I glance around and see the two Kahus squeeze in next to us while still chattering in overdrive. I stare at them like they’re two lobsters leaving the ocean floor to meander among the humans. They take the hint and move to the tennis court and begin hitting the ball back and forth.

“I still got the memory of the man standing over me with his gun. He’s laughing at the blood pouring outta holes in my body. The nasty man type who kills things and don’t even appreciate their loving wives doting on them like they’re some kinda heroes. Being a purebred don’t mean much if your body is scarred and missing some hair making a girl look rough around the edges. I live everyday feeling self-conscious while at the same time feeling the shame for rambling through the woods thinking my Kahu wouldn’t miss me. He cried for days until the vet told him I would survive. Now the man never lets me out of his sight and works at home or takes me to his office where the humans call me ‘beautiful’. Makes me feel good.”

In a moment of reflection, I revise my thinking purebreds are an entitled breed. It all amounts to how the world treats you. Love comes from one direction and pure meanness sidles next to you when you least expect it. Meanness can shake your confidence, rattle your nerves, and deprive you of feeling safe except when sitting next to your sacred guardian who thinks the sun shines on his dog that nearly died.

Bella tires after sharing her suffering story and falls asleep on the blanket. I take this time to rub my muzzle over her scars and linger a moment to share some oxytocin. I’m a lover and a poet. I roll over words like their blades of grass calling me to wrap myself in their scent. I enjoy listening to the lyrics of the birds warbling on the tree branches. I let my ears drift over to the neighbors’ duck squawking from being chased by a male in heat. I feel inclined to break up the party but decide to let nature take its course and deal with the fall out. Yeah, life may let you down but then a stranger comes along and whispers ‘you have value’ while paying a few dollars to take you home where love resides instead of loneliness.

I leave these lofty thoughts and travel over to the Kahus hitting a tiny yellow ball to each other like a couple of maniacs feeling their age. I can smell the sweat on their polo shirts from the blanket thirty feet from the tennis court, another thing that caused me to question my Kahu’s faculties when hearing him talking one day to a contractor over putting a tennis court in the backyard even though his spare time was always spent with ‘Yours Truly’ and not acting silly over a ball with another full-grown man. I smile to myself knowing I might have misunderstood the need for humans to flock to each other in small groups of hyper-chatter and comradery. Their laughter falls into my ears like the sounds of bees buzzing after a hard day’s work. I can feel my lips move upward into a smile over my Kahu sharing the weight of his happiness normally placed on my shoulders with a human companion. My large self tires easily from the sadness of others. I pull Bella closer and rest my head near hers where I hear the rhythmic sounds of a sweet dog snoring. Life surprises you sometimes when strangers settle in your company.

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