Charlie almost couldn’t believe it.
I have a dog.
The words were new to him, and they felt good.
Do I have a dog? Is this real?
Charlie had always felt a little different from other people. He tended to be a loner. Sure, he had always considered himself happy. But, as an adult, he had never attached himself much to anyone or anybody. He had never felt comfortable enough letting people in enough to do so.
Sure, Charlie was a very friendly guy. He smiled and waved to people, and he was generally happy to see people. Yet letting others inside his inner sanctuary, the private world he inhabited that consisted not only of his home, but also his private space (both literal and internal), had never felt right. He had always kept people at a distance. He had often wondered if he would always be this way.
He found that he often preferred this kind of solitude and independence. Sure, it could be lonely. But he found relating closing with people problematic, especially since his parents had passed away.
He had been close to his parents. They were beautiful, sweet people, and they not only raised Charlie, they treated him like a friend. He always felt welcome with them, and accepted. He was a little bit more unsure of the outside world, and though he put on a friendly face, and genuinely liked people, he felt more comfortable keeping others at a distance, at least somewhat.
Of course, this has changed somewhat when he moved to the house by the park. He always felt at home here. There was a simple calm to the street, to the neighborhood, and to the activities of the kids playing at the park. Something about the place felt like home. He began going outside more. He felt said Hi to the neighbors, and greeted the kids. He wore his striped coat with white dots on it, and though he knew it looked kind of funny looking, he felt that the neighborhood smiled at him, that it appreciated him, even if he was a little different.
Despite how at home he felt in his neighborhood, he continued to be a lone wolf. Now he–
Now I found my pack. Charlie smiled as he thought this. Now he suddenly felt like he had a friend, someone he could let in. He could feel a sense of love in him, a capacity to want to take care of another–in this case, a canine–that he had never felt access to.
Suddenly, he wanted this dog so badly. It wasn’t just a desire, it was a conviction. This has to be my dog.
That evening, Charlie sat out in the backyard with Rose. Stevie had long since gone home–he had hung out with Charlie and the dog for several hours before announcing that he needed to go home. There had been no discussion of whether his staying–or the trip to the pet store–would be okay with his parents, and Charlie did not think to ask. Instead, Stevie seemed to make up his own mind with the easy confidence of a self-sufficient little man.
Charlie marveled at how boy and dog both coalesced around him at the same time. Rose was an incredible being. Sure, she had nasty breath. She had already proven she was capable of doing horrible things to flowers and plants. And she was unpredictable. The leash certainly helped. Charlie held it tight as he sat on the chair that lived on the back yard patio.
He was taking in the situation. How quickly things had changed. This morning he had simply been a guy, a lone man. Now he was a dog owner. Wasn’t he? No one had called or showed up in the neighborhood looking for a dog. The Pound had said nothing about someone looking for a lost Irish Setter.
How long did he have to wait before he knew for sure?
Not long, I hope. Charlie wanted to settle matters. He felt a need for certainty, so he could start setting up his new life.
With his new dog in it.