No really. My dog, Pancakes, is a miracle worker.
He may have peed on your bra. Yes, he may have been the canine who fertilized your flowers. He might be the reason why the last half of your pot roast is missing. But you will love him.
You may in fact think that his overt friendliness is yours alone. That he loves you most. You might mention to others how Pancakes jumps up next to you, places his palms on your lap and looks into your eyes the minute you share the same space. You may even tell Pancakes, “Okay, enough, boy. Time to show your affection elsewhere. I can’t be the only human around,” when in fact you wish deep down inside that you are the best thing on two legs this dog will ever love.
This simply isn’t so. Take someone fresh out of Kingston Penn, give him a plate of bacon and you can watch this pooch deny you were ever alive. That is, until you get your own plate of bacon.
He is a testament to the beauty of saving abused animals. Born in a litter of pure bred American Cocker Spaniels, he was bought by a family who quickly kicked, starved and humiliated the pedigree right out of him. That’s why he’s gorgeous but knows little more than to give a high five, sit, and fetch.
What he does not have in show, he makes up for in his ability to heal and love.
This I understood the minute I became his second mama. When my partner, Laura, introduced me to this kind soul, I had never had a dog before due to dangerous allergies. For some reason, or by the grace of god, I wasn’t allergic to Pancakes. So I cared for him, and I continue to care for him, not taking for granted anything that comes with dog ownership. I also have the pleasure of loving this dog with an adult wisdom and artist’s eyes.
This is when I began to observe a peculiar pattern.
Each time I took the little guy out, someone, somewhere would stop in their tracks to pet him. And I don’t mean a “Look at this wittle puppy! You’re cute! Yes you are” kind of petting. I mean, mournful, bittersweet moments on the sidewalk.
“Can I pet your dog?” said an elderly woman on the bus one day. I had never heard this before as I had never had a dog. What do people do in this situation? Is it as inappropriate a statement as “Can I pet your bosom?” I decided to let her shaky hands peruse the wavy fur.
“Is it a cocker spaniel?” I nodded yes and the woman’s eyes began to well up.
“I just put my 13 year old female cocker spaniel down,” she said as her simple petting turned into a full embrace of Pancakes. He let her as if to say, “There, there.”
Even though I had told her Pancakes is a boy, she kept saying through her tears, “You’re a good girl. Yes. You are a good, good little girl.” Again, Pancakes let her as if to say, “I will be whoever you want me to be. As long as you have bacon.”
This continued. One man saw Pancakes and remembered the dog he lost during his turbulent divorce. The kids were brats, so he didn’t mind losing them. But the dog. The dog...
One woman remembered the exact date of her cocker spaniel’s death when she was a child. She has never recovered. This was usual among all of our encounters: They remembered the date of their dog’s death, they remember the dog to be the “best motherfucking dog on earth. No other dog has ever compared.”
The most poignant of these stories has to be when Pancakes jumped into the lap of a middle aged man.
I could feel another story coming on as this guy, with his salt and pepper hair, began to pet Pancakes slowly, pensively.
“I had a dog like this when I was a kid,” he began. “I watched him die. He was on a dock and a fishing line strangled him in front of me.”
Laura and I were aghast. We thought he would, I don’t know...tell us about how his cocker blew out his birthday candles and left the cake covered in slobber. Or how his cocker licked his face when he had a fever. Jeez.
“That’s why I became a veterinarian. I decided that because I never saved him, I wanted to save dogs for the rest of my life.”
Cue nose blowing and tear duct dabbing.
Pancakes remained in this man's lap for a long time. And the dude didn't even have a plate of bacon.
Photo credit: Laura Pavey.
This image will be on the cover of his book entitled "Can I eat what you're eating? An American Cocker Tells All"