venerdì 4 agosto 2017

Dog Heaven.

There are three obvious down sides to being a dog. Firstly, your life span is generally a lot shorter than that creature who is sometimes referred to as your master. Secondly, there are a rather limited amount of noises you can make. Human language, be it English, Italian, Mandarin or Samoan, really just isn't something that is going to work for you. Lastly, there's the question of getting into Heaven. I'm not sure about the teachings of every religion, but there is enough evidence to suggest that there is not room for dogs in every version of that perfect place. It seems that, in most Christian versions, dogs are on the outer because they don't have a soul. Bad luck.
This little dog tale concerns Ralph, a good Catholic chap, and his dog Paganini. Ralph named Paganini after the famous violinist but had first considered giving him a more Christian name like Gabriel or Peter. However, it didn't somehow seem right to bestow a sacred name on a dog - a creature with no soul. Only later, after the name had been well and truely branded did Ralph realise that he would have to be careful not to let the dog's name be shortened to Pagan. Just for the record, Paganini did not name Ralph.

Oh, and one last thing. Just for simplicity in telling this little tale, I'm going to 'play God' and give Paganini the power of speech. 

"Morning Ralph," said Paganini in a very enthusiastic tone, "what's for breakfast?"
Ralph had just got out of bed and was on his way to the bathroom.
"Yeah, yeah, I'll get it in a second."
Paganini wasn't really listening because his head was full of ideas - food, what a nice day it was going to be, food, a walk would be great, soon would be the best time. Paganini sometimes let his enthusiasm get the better on him but, what the hell, he was a dog.
He heard the toilet flush. It wouldn't be long now.
"Come on Ralph, I'm starving!"
For the sake of peace Ralph quickly filled Paganini's bowl.
"Dog roll and two biscuits. Yum!" thought Paganini as he tucked in with a vengeance.
Ralph made coffee.
Paganini was quick with the food and Ralph let him out to take care of business.
Soon he was back at the door. Waiting.

This Sunday morning Ralph had unintentionally slept in and this was about to have an effect on both the lives of the man and the dog.

Let me take a little time out to explain the relationship between a man and a dog. It's not like a marriage - the man never has to apologise and the dog never takes anything personally. The dog is a bit like a pensioner, someone who has reached the age where he no longer goes to a  job every day. For a start, a pensioner and a dog in his prime have roughly the same amount of time ahead of them on this planet. Unless either of them is unlucky enough to be hit by a bus, they'll both spend their last few years mostly sleeping and dealing with aching joints. They both approach most days with a blank canvas. Neither knows what day it is - there is little difference between Monday, Wednesday or Saturday. No 'thank God it's Friday'. Making money is not the driver for either the pensioner or the dog. Though it's important to remember that the dog has much more energy to burn. Still, the wise pensioner tries to keep fit - use it or lose it, as they say. It's certainly not unusual to see either of them at a park.

Ralph's standard Sunday practice was to take Paganini for a quick walk to the local park, with a bit of ball fetching thrown in to tire him out. While Paganini went into dog recovery mode, Ralph would wander off to Mass - it was a three block walk to St Matthew's. Today he would need to take the dog and tie him up outside. For once Ralph was pleased that his dog had the power of speech because he could easily explain to him what was happening. Other non talking dogs wouldn't cope well with a one off event like this. As well as spending an hour this Sunday praising God, Ralph should have taken a little time to thank the author for giving his dog the ability to speak and to listen. He didn't.

Paganini always went a little bit over the top when he heard the slight tinkle as Ralph took his metal chain lead off the hook near the back door. He'd promised himself a thousand times that he'd try to be more chilled out, but he always forgot. That's a dog for you.

Ralph's plan was to walk a block before he told Paganini what was happening. He knew it would take at least a block for his dog to stop pulling on the lead and calm down a bit.
"Okay, Paganini, there's a slight change of plan today. I'm going to have to tie you up outside of my church. You'll have a bit of a wait, but you'll have to be very quiet. No calling out, it's important that you are very quiet."
Paganini realised that Ralph wasn't carrying their ball and felt a little confused.
"Why?What's happening Ralph?"
"Look I just slept a bit late and I need to go to church. You're going to need to be a good dog."
"Okay Ralph, I'll do my best."

There were quite a few people entering St. Matthew's when they arrived. Paganini said 'hi' to a few of them, but they didn't reply. They just patted him on the head.
Ralph tied his lead to a post just below the two steps that led to the church door and told him to lie down. Paganini was an obedient dog.

Paganini listened. This was an unusual form of adventure. It was quiet inside but then a man started to speak. He was using a microphone so he was easy to hear. Sometimes lots of people seemed to be answering him, but Paganini couldn't really make sense of what they were talking about. Still, they had caught his attention.

The man talking was a priest named Father Wood. Ralph liked him and, when he got to the part where he gave a sermon, Ralph listened carefully. Father Wood evidently had a science degree and had not been at the parish long. For some reason he had abruptly left a school where he was teaching to take up parish duty. Ralph didn't know why but he liked the fact that this man could combine science with his belief in God.

Today Father Wood's speech would be about a thing called Heaven. This was something Paganini knew nothing about and he struggled to get the gist of it all. It seemed that Heaven was a place that was very nice to go to but not everyone got in. There were a set of rules that Father Wood didn't define very well.
"Maybe," wondered Paganini, "the people in the church already know the rules, so he was just giving a sketchy outline to remind them?"
It seemed that there was someone called Jesus who you had to love. This was a bit confusing because, without really defining the relationship, dogs sort of loved their owners but didn't really think much about it. Father Wood threw in a bit of what Paganini thought might be science. He talked about a thing called a soul that seemed to leave the body and float up to Heaven. Father Wood stressed that only human beings had souls. Paganini listened carefully but dogs definitely weren't mentioned. This was all very confusing.

On the walk home Paganini fired off quite a few questions.
"Who was the man talking in there?"
"That was Father Wood, he's our new parish priest."
"So, what's this thing about Heaven? How does it work?"
"If you live a good life and accept Jesus into your life, you go to a very happy place called Heaven when you die."
"Who is Jesus?"
"He's the Son of God. He came to Earth and died to save us sinners."
"What's a sinner?"
"Look Paganini, that's a lot of questions. The basic facts are these. You have to accept Jesus into your life then when you die, if you've lived a good life,  your soul goes to Heaven. Everyone has a soul. Heaven is a wonderful place and you get to spend eternity there."
"What's eternity?"
"The longest time you can think of."
"Do I have a soul?"
"No. You're a dog."
"Does that mean I can't get into Heaven?"
"I don't know. Maybe they let a few dogs in? I really don't know. Maybe there's a dog Heaven? Maybe there's a place where dogs go and they're very happy?"

Paganini was still struggling with words like 'soul' and 'Heaven'. He knew that he liked different things to Ralph. He liked smelling other dogs, peeing on trees and chasing things. He even ate some things that made Ralph look like he was feeling a bit unpleasant. Maybe a dog Heaven was not such a bad idea?
Would it be a place you could walk to? Maybe you'd have to enter it by going to the vet? Paganini didn't like that last thought because the vet always seemed to stick something up his bottom.
Also some sick looking animals didn't seem to come back out into the waiting room. He didn't trust that place.

A week passed but Paganini wasn't really aware of it. He never was. That day came when Ralph didn't go to work. He wasn't a pensioner, it happened on a regular basis. It was often the day when they went on a longer walk - right through the park and down to the river. 
This particular day was a brilliant off work day. The sun was shining and the grass at the park was a rich lime colour and as soft as Ralph's bed. He got to smell a few dogs as they passed on the path to the river. There were lots of spring flowers and plenty of trees to pee on. He chose one. The river water was like glass and he smashed it everywhere. Ralph threw in a few stones that he tried to retrieve, but they were everywhere and his attention was shooting around as he spied other things. He chased after a dragon fly that hovered over the water like a helecopter and was too fast for him. Finally he returned to the shallower water and shook himself off. Then he followed Ralph up to the lawn and Ralph threw the ball for what seemed like ages. He loved biting that ball. Once or twice he pretended to refuse to let it go and Ralph shook it in his mouth. Then it was time to go.
As Ralph clipped his lead back on Paganini said, "This is Dog Heaven."

12 commenti:

THE CURMUDGEON ha detto...

Can't wait.

THE CURMUDGEON ha detto...

Well I can wait.
It seems that the reader can read this blog post while it's being written.
I wrote my 'can't wait' comment way back after the first couple of paragraphs. It seems silly now.

Robert ha detto...
Questo commento è stato eliminato dall'autore.
Richard (of RBB) ha detto...

It was supposed to be a happy ending. I didn't really want to have to explain that.

THE CURMUDGEON ha detto...

There's still time to change it.
Make it happy please, but leave out all that heaven crap.

Richard (of RBB) ha detto...

I think my point was lost.

THE CURMUDGEON ha detto...

Pencil sharpener?

THE CURMUDGEON ha detto...

Anyway, forget about all that.
It's Friday! Yay.
OK, it's not as if i'm working but Fridays are good aren't they?
Up here the local club, The Manaia Club exhorts members to come and spend by having a 'member's draw' on Friday nights.
The prize starts at $50 and rolls over each week if the winning member isn't in the club at the time. Tonight it is up to $850 so I'll have to go along.
I don't use the club that much as they're a bunch of old jokers mostly. I did receive my Super Gold Card today but I still think of myself as a 20 year old. They have good wine - nice chardonnay at only $5.50 a glass - a big glass filled to the top.

Sorry, what were you saying?

Richard (of RBB) ha detto...

I spent all day writing that from an idea I had a few years back. It sort of seemed important. Thanks for all the positive feedback. Next time I feel a creative urge I'll go to the toilet.

Robert ha detto...
Questo commento è stato eliminato dall'autore.
THE CURMUDGEON ha detto...

My initial 'can't wait' was sincere. I was glad to see your return to blog posts of a style from years back - creative, well-written and funny.
The idea is very good. I like how the dog communicates (or thinks he does) with people around him.
I'm re-reading 'Sole Survivor' by Derek Hansen at the moment and the main character treats his dog as an equal.

Richard (of RBB) ha detto...

Thanks chaps.