How a Dog makes a Man

Crying doesn’t indicate you are weak.  Since birth it has always been a sign that you are, in fact, ALIVE! Unknown

I’m sure that my six cats would not like that title.  However this story isn’t about them.  It’s about the dog my family had when I was in my teens.  His name was Patches and he was a fat little beagle.  Fat may not be the correct or politically correct word.  Maybe huge better describes his belly.  He waddled around just as happy as could be.  Sometimes I used to just watch him waddle around the yard and run into things.  He’d shake his head sniff whatever he’d hit and move on.  He was blind, you see.  Not sure how long he had been blind in his life.  Seemed like most of it.  Anytime we rearranged things outside he’d spend weeks running into things and relearning where the new things were.

Patches had had a hard life.  I remember him getting hit by a UPS truck and walking or better yet waddling away.  Obviously, he was not hit too hard.  Although I believe not too much later he went blind.  Sometime later we went hunting and my brother shot him thinking that waddling through the grass was a rabbit.  Hmmm still can’t figure that one out.  Patches still lived and was happy as could be.

He always greeted me when I got home from school.  Loved to lick my face and just slobber over me.  I let him do it because I thought that meant he loved me, although I never licked him back.  I just rubbed his belly and held him.

Sometime later we had an enormous amount of rain and the creek next to the house flooded.  When the rains stopped my brother and I walked along the creek to see what it was like.  We thought Patches had stayed home but he had followed us.  We didn’t know that until we got home and then we went looking for him.  We followed his tracks yelling for him and followed the tracks straight to the edge of the water and then they stopped.  We screamed and yelled for him walking our way back along the creek towards home but found nothing.  He was nowhere to be found.  Depressed we sat on the manmade dike between our home and the creek just watching the water race by.

Then we heard something.  Don’t know who heard it first by it was a faint beagle howl.  You know the sound.  We looked up creek and there in the middle of the fast moving waters was Patches paddling for his life.  We screamed his name and raced to the edge of the water and he kept paddling toward us.  When he got to us we pulled him out of the water and hugged him over and over.  We didn’t care how wet or muddy he was.  We just cared he was alive.

As life happens, dogs do not have nine lives.  I remember coming home from a church rocker-thon on a cold February morning and being told that Patches had been hit by a car.  This time he had not made it.  One of my brothers had buried him in the yard and erected a cross over his grave.  I cried for days, but because I was a man I tried to hide it.  You know that stupid idea that men aren’t supposed to have feelings.  Yeah, I believed it.

I hated going to chick flicks, not because they are chick flicks but because they are emotional and I would cry and I didn’t want people to see me cry in public.  I cried at my sister’s wedding and people asked if I had allergies.  Sure, that’s what it was.  Others did know better and some made fun of me for it.

Some people still pick on me for crying at sensitive moments.  It doesn’t bother me like it did.  Yes, I cry more than my wife at the movies, even if I’ve seen the movie 100 times.  I can’t help it.  I’m a sensitive guy.  Recently a friend posted a moving video on facebook and I simply said that it made me cry and that I was a softy.  The response was, “That’s not a bad thing, my friend.”  And that is right, because I’m being me.

Children, people, and especially men need to know that emotions are good and to let them out.  Crying does not make me weak.  It makes me a real man.  I used to not let out my feelings because men aren’t supposed to but also because if I let myself show that I care I could also get hurt.  However that is the risk in anything you do.  The important part is to be you.  For me it is to be a sensitive crier.    I hope that you will take today and do that which you’ve been hiding.  Open yourself up to the world and don’t hold back.  You may get hurt because not everyone understands, but it will be worth it for you.  And maybe, just maybe others will see what they can do because of your example.