For the longest time I enjoyed going on walks with my master. He would give me a call, “Buster!” and when I came rollicking up, excited about what awaited us outside the walls of our house and outside the confines of our yard, he would attach my leash and off we would go. Sometimes we would go right, which I call the “Annie Poodle Route,” because Annie the Poodle lives down that way, and I always leave my calling card by the corner of her fence (along with a million other dogs!). And sometimes we would go left, which I call the “Fred the Mean Dog Route,” because Fred the Mean Dog lives down there, and you can be sure I don’t leave my calling card by his house!
But my natural enjoyment of these walks has diminished, and it’s all because of Lurch, the big black Lab who lives on Maple. He lives in a house with a big fenced yard and for some reason his master never takes him on walks, but I talk to him regularly because whether I go right or left outside my house, I always end up by his house, because he lives in between both routes.
In any case, about a week ago Lurch and I were sniffing each other through the fence when he asked if I’ve ever tried to escape my servitude. I had no idea what he was talking about. But then he nodded at my leash and said, “Your leash, the thing that binds you to The Man. You’re tethered to your master and ultimately go wherever he wants to go. Don’t you ever want to slip your leash to roam free, be your own dog, instead of a slave to The Man?”
I was taken aback, as you can imagine. I had never thought of my leash as enslaving me before. Rather, I had always thought of if it as liberating, because the leash meant going on walks, getting out of confinement. Yet what Lurch said made sense. If I wanted to run off, I couldn’t. I was literally bound to this person, the man. The Man.
For the next several days my emotions were in tumult. I had always loved not just my walks but my master. He was so good to me. He cared for me and he would pet me and play with me and feed me when he got home from work. But I also couldn’t ignore that my master did indeed keep me in servitude. Why was I stuck at home all day while he was at work? Why couldn’t I just roam around the neighborhood whenever I wanted to, like he does? Then, as afternoon draws to a close, I could make my way back home and we could spend the evenings together during the week like we always do. Why must I stay home while he goes about his day however he sees fit?
These thoughts swirling around my head made me feel sad, angry, and guilty all at the same time. I started looking at my master in a new light. Was he my friend or was he my boss or enslaver? Were we equal partners in this relationship or was he the leader and I the follower?
This all came to a head two days ago. My master called me for our walk, but instead of me bounding up to him in enthusiastic obedience, with my tail wagging, I took my sweet time and acted quite indifferently to him. Maybe I’ll go on a walk with you and maybe I won’t, I was thinking. I’ll decide what I do with my time.
Of course, my master thought I was sick and started looking at me with great concern. He rubbed my neck and said things like, “Buster, are you okay?” and he felt my nose.
It was weak of me, but it filled me with love to see him showing such concern for me. If he’s my enslaver, it can’t be denied that he’s a nice and loving one.
I eventually allowed him to take me on a walk, but when he started to go left, toward Mean Fred, I pulled back and said to myself, “Uh, that ain’t happening. I want to go right, and if you don’t like it, you can just go back to the house and let me take myself on my own walk, without your leash—your hated leash.”
We ended up going right, but I didn’t feel all that good about it, because my resistance clearly disturbed him and I could see by the expression on his face that he continued to think I was sick. But I tried to ignore his hurt feelings and I told myself, “What about my hurt feelings? Sure, you feel good about our relationship when you’re in the driver’s seat, but when I try to set the agenda, you get all weepy and worried. What, are you afraid to give me a little independence? What are you afraid of, that you’ll lose control? Well, just remember, if you love something, set it free, dude.”
I did the same thing yesterday and in response my master took me to the vet, a place he knows I hate going. “What, is this my punishment?” I lashed out in my mind. “I’m not being your lap dog, so you take me to the place that tortures me to no end? It’s either I be docile or I go to the place of ultimate control by The Man?”
The vet of course found nothing wrong with me, and later that day, while on our walk, we went by Lurch’s house and I told him my master and I were at war with one another. We were fighting for control, and I was winning. “He’s resorted to the worst kind of punishment—a trip to the vet—but I’m not giving in,” I said.
Lurch said I was wasting my time. Any control I won would be an illusion, and that I was fooling myself into thinking I could ever bring down The Man.
Then Lurch’s master came out and cried, “Lurch! Din-din!” and Lurch swirled around and bounded up to his master like a puppy dog, his tail wagging and his ears flopping. It was unseemly to see such a change in his demeanor. He was no more fighting against his servitude than Annie the Poodle. What a hypocrite!
That was yesterday and I have no intention of giving my master a hard time this afternoon when he comes home from work and we go for a walk. But in a way the damage is done. Time will heal this wound somewhat, and I know my master and I will have good times again, but something inside me has died and I can never look upon our relationship with the same innocence that I used to. I guess you can say I’m wiser now, and with wisdom comes a kind of existentialist despair over the futility of our lives. Yet part of me would jump at the chance to trade my wisdom in for the innocence I enjoyed just a week before. Life used to be a joy. But that was then. I’m older than that now.
This is a work of satire. It is fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Photo: rk (Creative Commons). Not necessarily an endorsed use of image.
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