We just went to visit family in Naples, my mother and brother; brother number three came to join us. We shot off some fireworks in the backyard. A dog belonging to was with us.
The funny thing was the dog didn’t so much as bat an eye when the skyrockets went off. The flashing lights, the noise, not one thing bothered him. It put me in mind of another Fourth of July and our dog Romeo; he was a smooth-coat collie and collies tend to be very protective.
Anyway, Romeo was always great with the little kids. When our goddaughter, Hayley, was a toddler, she could almost literally ride Romeo as a pony; he was always kind and gentle with her. If she got too close to an open door, he’d step in her way and corral her. A gentle nudge, a small push and he’d re-direct her in the right direction. If she wanted to play, he’d grab one of his toys and do tug-of-war with her, yet always let her win. He’d hold a teddy bear or stuffed dog with just the tips of his teeth, hold still, and let her tug and pull with all her might.
He was always gentle with her and any other child.
Romeo was also so very tolerant. Kids would step on his legs and tail, pull his nose and ears; sometimes even trip and fall over him. He never so much as nipped them or growled.
There was one area, of our lives, where he went loco; that was over fireworks. Romeo was determined to protect us from fireworks. We have no idea what it was about them, but they were truly his kryptonite.
Most years, it wasn’t an issue, as we always went out to see the Fourth or New Year’s Eve shows. One year, though, we decided to buy a few fireworks and shoot them off in our driveway. We invited friends over, waited until dark and then set things up. We left Shakespeare and Romeo inside, as we were worried that the loud noises would upset him; then the show began.
Shakespeare was fine. In fact, he went and hid in the backyard, via the doggy door, and had a good time chewing on an old bone. Romeo was a different matter, altogether.
Romeo stood by the front bay window and went totally bonkers. No, to say he stood wasn’t right. He bounced and leapt about, and barked non-stop. We got worried that he’d burst a blood vessel or something, and decided maybe it was better to let him out.
We wanted to get a leash on Romeo, but he was too quick. He bolted out the door, raced for the burning Roman candle and literally tried to bite the glowing orbs shooting out of the top.
It took three of us to pull him back and hold Romeo at bay; at least he was under control. Once his leash was on him, we got him seated on the front lawn between a couple of his favorite kids, and he settled down, a bit. He felt as if he was protecting someone.
Overall, it was a fun Fourth, although we did learn to never again shoot off fireworks around our house, most especially not near Romeo. The poor dog just went total crazy anytime he got near fireworks.
I guess it was to be expected. He was after all a “Lassie Dog.” Thus, it was his nature to want to protect people, even when we didn’t need protecting.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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