"The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you but he will make a fool of himself, too. "
One of the great things about living on the Maine coast is that we have four distinct seasons. The real Mainers will often argue that we really only have two: winter and the "mud" season. Right now the chill is starting to settle in and it won't be long before we throw a few logs in the fireplace and sit in front of a warm fire. The leaves are starting to fall and the surrounding countryside is literally a kaleidoscope of colors. All of us need quiet time in our busy, hectic lives, a momentary respite from the cares of the world. Our souls crave a time for prayerful contemplation in nature's midst. For me, it comes during my daily walk through the woods with my Schnauzer, Charlie. Dogs have always occupied a special place in my heart. Their love is truly unconditional; they give it freely without strings attached.
Charlie or "Kosta" as one of my Greek friends refers to him, came to us when he was two years old. A less than reputable breeder bought him in order to use him as a stud dog to churn out little Schnauzer puppies that could be sold for a healthy profit. Needless to say that Charlie was less than cooperative, so much so, that the breeder decided to get rid of him forthwith. When I first met Charlie he was a cowering, timid pooch, with a stub of a tail between his legs, who had spent most of his first two years of life caged up in a kennel. Frankly, I had my doubts about him but there was something in those sad eyes looking up at me. It was as if he was begging for a second chance in life, with a family and a real home where he would be loved and appreciated. Everyone, including a dog, deserves a second chance, so I paid the breeder, picked him up in my arms and carried him into my life. As I drove home with him, he planted himself in my lap and trembled with fear all the way home. When I arrived home the boys were all over him as he sat there totally overwhelmed. It took a few weeks for Charlie to emerge from his shell, but emerge he did. You see even dogs can undergo a metamorphosis, spread their wings and fly like a butterfly. Charlie spent weeks exploring his home, the yard, the neighborhood and anyone who came into our house. Schnauzers become very attached to one or two persons in the family. In Charlie's case, perhaps it was the imprint made by our first meeting, he latched on to me and has never let go. Charlie has a soft spot for my wife, Anna, and yiayia, he tolerates the boys and looks askance at anyone else including other dogs, until of course, he gets to know them. Nowadays, Charlie throws his chest out, tail pointing upward and struts around the neighborhood like he owns it.
Walking the trails crisscrossing the woods around our home, Charlie is in his element. Chasing squirrels, savoring the fragrant essence of every bush and rock as he ambles down the trail, occasionally looking back to make sure I'm following at a respectful distance. As we walk together each of us is content in occupying his own rightful place in God's world. Someone once said that dog's are not our whole life but they make our lives whole. I couldn't agree more.