I had dogs before a boy could properly be said to have a dog. My parents said it was my dog because I was supposed to feed it. The dog didn’t come in the house; really it was a yard dog, a good thing to have around as a form of protection. My Uncle down in Georgia had a raging pack of such dogs living under his house. These were fearsome snarling creatures.
One of “my” dogs ran off, and another became a chicken killer. That was the end of him; once a dog gets the taste of chicken blood, it can’t stop. So somebody shot him. Then, I got a dog that was more properly my dog. I was old enough to really have a dog, and he was short, compact, and hairy, unlike the boney tall dogs that were mine before. I knew him from a pup. I would go outside and he would come up wagging his tail and he would follow me wherever I went.
I made a little of my own money; I would regularly make a sweep of the gullies up and down the road for about a mile either way looking for pop bottles that people tossed out of their cars. I could get 3 cents a piece for them. I didn’t get what people called an “allowance,” so whatever money I had that was my money came from those pop bottles.
One day I was out picking up those bottles and I look around I see that my dog is crossing the road to get to me. I couldn’t do a fucking thing as a car ran right over him. I felt awful and came home crying.
I lay face down on my bed and cried and cried, and all my mother could do was to yell at me because she had told me, over and over and over, hadn’t she?, not to go near the road with the dog. What did it take to make me listen? A dead dog apparently. And she hoped I realized that if I had listened to her that the dog would not be dead. But for some perverse reason I had insisted on taking the dog down to the road and now it was dead just as she had predicted.
She went on and on in that manner and all I could do was cry harder and harder. I was almost sick with crying. Sure I remembered what she said, and her idea of comforting me was to rub it in further. Once again she was right and I was a perverse and stubborn child.
I must ask because I really don’t understand and I have tried so hard to understand, but what could possess a person to taunt (I told you so! I told you so!), humiliate, shame and bury with guilt an eight year old boy who was lamenting the death of his dog and his role in that death. It is not enough apparently to kick a person when he is down; having done it once one must do it repeatedly.
Within the bosum of our families we learn our capacity for inhumanity from each other.