"It gives me strength to have somebody to fight for;
I can never fight for myself,
but for others, I can kill."
-- Emilie Autumn, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls
"If by my life or death I can protect you, I will."
-- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
|Mama (2) 7-19-13|
This is my mother's dog.
Her name is Mama.
She wandered into my mother's yard about 7 years ago. She was a stray and a mongrel ... a mix of Pitbull and, we think, Dutch shepherd. Maybe some other stuff.
When Mama first appeared, she was Whippet-thin, with a scar across her lip, and a belly covered with nipples indicating that she had recently given birth.
But she was alone and her puppies were who-knows-where.
She was either a runaway or else she'd been dumped.
Whichever, she was on the lam with a black Labrador Retriever.
Neighbors had called Animal Control to report the strays. When the officers showed up, they said they could transport the Lab to a rescue shelter for adoption. But because of her breed, they said Mama would have to be "put down," unless someone agreed to keep her.
My mother agreed.
Mama was skittish at first, afraid.
It took a frying pan full of pepperoni to lure her in.
I remember the e-mail my mother sent out, ebulliently announcing Mama's arrival. The news drew mixed reviews, concern, and questions from the family.
Our mother had just adopted a stray Pitbull, for Christ's sake.
But 7 years later, none of us can imagine Mama not being there.
My mom lives alone. Dad died 9 years ago.
For the first couple of years, Mom struggled with the noises and shadows in the empty house.
She was lonely and sad, and all of the other things people are after a traumatic death.
Mama filled the emptiness, both in the house, and in my mother's heart.
Mama barked back at the scary sounds.
Mama stood between my mother and any would-be intruders.
This dog looks about as bad-ass as it gets. I mean, she's part Pitbull, after all. But she's also gentle and sweet and lovable. When Mom came home, the house wasn't empty anymore. Mama was there to greet her with puppy-like glee.
She stayed close.
She still does.
A Dutch Shepherd is a fiercely protective herding dog. It's sole purpose is to take care of its herd.
And I suppose my mother is Mama's herd.
They take care of each other. They need each other. And it is a pretty beautiful thing.