Sunday, September 28, 2014

Guarding the House

Whenever we went on vacation, we always took our dogs with us.

Kennels were absolutely out of the question as we considered our pets to be members of the family.

You don't put your loved ones in a cage just because you feel like getting out of town for a few weeks.

There were a few occasions, though, when we were staying at my aunt’s farmhouse in the Berkshires when we had to leave our dog, Casey, at the house.

Usually we’d be going to the movies or dinner and it wouldn’t be right make him sit in the car for two or more hours. And just before we left my father would explain the situation to Casey.

“Casey,” he’d say, “you have to stay home and guard the house. Guard the house.”

My dad usually said it twice to drive the point home, but honestly he didn’t have to tell Casey even once. Dogs are natural born guardians, ready to lay down their lives for their loved ones without a moment’s hesitation.

I thought about the dogs in our family recently when my sister and I made one of our nighttime rides by our childhood home on Senator Street.

We sold the house three years ago, but we still like to drive by every so often to see what’s become of the place where our parents raised us.

Dog Days

The new owners have made some modest changes to the exterior, but the house always seemed eerily uninhabited whenever we go by, dark and lifeless, and sharply contrasting with the other homes on the block.

There were times when we wondered if the owners were going to try and flip the place just to make some fast cash—which, of course, they have every right to do. They own the property and they can do just about anything they want with the place. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

However, things were different on this last ride. As my sister slowed down, we could see a car in the driveway and there were lights in the upstairs apartment.

But, most importantly, we saw the silhouette of a dog’s head in one of the second floor windows. He—or she—sat motionless, looking out on the street below.

It probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it meant a lot to us. I felt like the house was finally becoming a home.

A dog is a sign that there’s a family living there, that there’s stability. The new residents are putting down roots.

I thought about our parents and all our old neighbors who used to live on that block, almost all of whom are gone now, and the new families moving in to what used to be our space.

It’s a bittersweet feeling, but I’m glad there are people living there.

We had a number of dogs in our family: Casey, Schnapps, and before my time-Kerry and Daphne—all loyal and loving, all devoted guardians.

I don’t know anything about the new people and I’m in no hurry to find out, just as long as they’re happy and they put the house to good use.

And to that dog we saw in the window, I want to say keep up the good work. Keep guarding the house.

10 comments:

Ron said...

Rob, reading this post made me think of my own childhood, the house we lived in, and our dog Ginger. And it's funny, because my mother would sorta say the same thing to her, "Stay home and guard the house." You're right, a dog is a sign that there’s a family living there, that there’s stability. The new residents are putting down roots.

I think it's so great that you visit the home that your parents raised you. I remember when I first moved back east and visited the home I grew up in. I sat in the car and got very emotional, thinking about all the years we had lived there and the fond memories. Even now as I type this, I can still feel what it felt like living there.

A house is something, isn't it? It's a place the holds onto the memories of all those who lived there, no matter how many owners it has.

Great memoir post, buddy!

Have a super week!

Rob K said...

Hey, Ron!

Oh, you're so right! A House is "a place the holds onto the memories of all those who lived there, no matter how many owners it has."

And the pets are an important part of that legacy. They, too, give us many fond memories that we can look back on over the years.

Thanks for stopping by, buddy! Have a terrific week!

Bijoux said...

We will sometimes drive by our former house of 22 yrs and I never understand why they keep all the blinds closed. The house always looks deserted to me, so I can relate to your feelings of wanting to see someone make it a home.

Rob K said...

Hi, Bijoux!

All the blinds are close? That's a little creepy. Houses are meant for people, not shadows.

Let the sun shine in!

CrystalChick said...

We have two dogs now. Ollie and Rev. They are family. :) Yeah, they annoy me some with all the mess (the shedding hair, the dog kibble and biscuit crumbs all over the floor, etc. Hmm, are we much better?) but they are so loving and would be dearly missed.
Nice that seeing your old house gave you good feelings. I hope the current owners and their furry friend will have much happiness there.

Rob K said...

Thanks, Mary!

It really was nice seeing the old place properly occupied.

And I wish you many years of happiness with Ollie and Rev.

Take care!

Stephanie Faris said...

Beautifully put. Dogs make a house a home. I love it that there are so many options now to take pets with you on vacation. We leave our dog with my parents most of the time, but if we travel with my parents somewhere, we rent a house on VRBO.com that allows pets.

Rob K said...

That's great, Stephanie! You have to bring the doggie along. And thanks for the tip about VRBO.com.

cestlavie22 said...

Love this post because my dog is like a child to me. This dog is my entire life. I revolve a lot in my life around her. And you are right when you have a dog you really are starting to consider a place home. Its a great feeling to come home and have a dog so happy to see you every day. You really cant beat that feeling!

Rob K said...

That's great, Shae! Nothing beats a dog's greeting when you come into the house!