Dogs Reigning in My Mind (Part 19)

Rocky trained with Butkus, his bulldog, a gift from Adrian, and that was his secret weapon against Apollo Creed. I once knew an old dog who lumbered himself down to the ocean every morning at dawn. I would pass him on the trail and my dogs always left him alone. One day the old dog wasn’t on the trail and I later found out from his owner that he died on the beach. In the Terminator, only dogs can detect the terminators. That’s true in true life as well, once you identify the terminators in your life. A dairy farmer once threatened to kill Sonny because she would occasionally meander over to his property because of her crush on his cattle dog. Had he done so, I would have spent a considerable amount of time fucking his life up, all non violently of course. He would have never known what hit him. In the movie John Wick, Keanu Reeves plays a hitman who begins his reformation into a decent human being when a Russian thug murders his puppy and then he kills everyone evil in site.

In the course of writing this book about dogs, I often pick up Dog Years by German novelist Gunter Grass, continue reading, and try to make sense of it as a novel and dog book. So far, and I am nearing the end, I have failed, but intuit in these pages of dense and elliptical prose, that something profound about dogs lingers there. I find it impossible to summarize the contents of Dog Years, so this riff from the inside jacket will have to suffice: “The Vistula, with its cargo of history, runs through their exploits. So does the dog Senta, who will whelp Harras, who in turn will sire the black shepherd Prinz, the Fuhrer’s favorite dog…the Dog Years are now in full swing; they lead right into the war, up to the moment when Prinz deserts his master because even a dog can have enough…” Hitler was so awful his favorite dog deserted him. But that’s not what happened in real life.

Finally, what about the song “Dog Years” by Rush? It is both a preposterous and poignant rock song about dogs, but really more about humans. The lyrics go:

In a dog’s life
A year is really more like seven
And all too soon a canine
Will be chasing cars in doggie heaven

It seems to me
As we make our own few circles ’round the sun
We get it backwards
And our seven years go by like one

Dog years—It’s the season of the itch
Dog years—With every scratch it reappears

In the dog days
People look to Sirius
Dogs cry for the moon
But those connections are mysterious

It seems to me
While it’s true that every dog will have his day
When all the bones are buried
There is barely time to go outside and play

Dog years—It’s the season of the itch
Dog years—With every scratch it reappears
Dog years—For every sad son of a bitch
Dog years—With his tail between his ears

I’d rather be a tortoise from Galapagos
Or a span of geological time
Than be living in these dog years

In a dog’s brain
A constant buzz of low-level static
One sniff at the hydrant
And the answer is automatic

It seems to me
As we make our own few circles ’round the block
We’ve lost our senses
For the higher-level static of talk

Notice the mention of Sirius. Rush got dogs. Rush worshiped Sirius. God is Dog. Dog is God.