In a recent Islander "Pets of the Week" feature, "Charo," a 5-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix, was listed as available for adoption at a price of $55. Charo was described as the "best friend you could ever have and that he will keep pace with you on walks and would love an exercise buddy."
This was very tempting to me because I never had a dog when I was a kid and I tended to exercise alone. I always imagined what it would be like to have a loving dog running alongside of you panting as you panted, stopping when you stopped and sprinting when you sprinted.
I used to beg my dad to get us a dog, but he said that he didn't want another mouth to feed. So when I saw the ad for Charo I was sorely tempted. In my mind's eye I could see Charo accompanying me to the fitness center and running next to me in on the adjoining treadmill or lifting weights as I did some biceps work.
I also imagined Charo giving me tips on the right form for my weight bearing regimen. "No," he would say. "Keep those elbows in and remember to breathe in and out."
But maybe I was expecting too much. How could an Australian Cattle Dog mix advise me on the proper form for fitness routines? After all, his forebearers were born in Australia where dogs played with kangaroos and didn't go to fitness centers. If Charo lived up to his name his natural instincts would take him to cattle ranches to help herd cattle through meadows and pastures and back to the ranch. What would he know about strengthening your pectorals?
I then reread the blurb in the Islander and realized that Charo was a mix not a full pedigreed and had probably never seen a cow in his life. I didn't hold that against Charo as I imagined how he and I would hit it off and become the buddies the blurb boasted about.
Being a "mix" is not a negative as far as I'm concerned. Aren't we all "mixes?" That's what makes America great. We come from all breeds and have a little bit of everything in our genes. It's the same with Charo. He may be an Australian Cattle Dog mix, but his grandparents must have come over on some Australian dog immigration quota and checked in at Ellis Island.
When the Ellis Island inspectors asked Charo's grandparents their names all they could say was "woof." The inspectors concluded that the two dogs were speaking with an affected Australian back country accent and put their names down as Mr. and Mrs. Barbie. The Barbies settled in Florida where they continued the family tradition of herding cattle. But their litter was distributed to various families throughout Florida and Charo was the outcome of a torrid romance between one of the Barbie litter and a Belgian sheepdog.
Oh, Charo, could you and I really be buddies? Would he really like me? After all, my life style may not be compatible with his. I like to read a lot and ask myself what Charo would do during those moments. Would he sit at my feet like a good dog and wait patiently while I finish a chapter? Or would he begin chewing on table legs, barking at the top of his lungs and bite my ankles?
Maybe I'll just find out where Charo presently lives and spy on him for a while. I'll get a sense of his style, energy level, love of humans and his capacity for buddydom. What if Charo just doesn't like me or senses that we are totally incompatible? What if I had to admit failure in yet another relationship and return him to his previous owners? That would just break my heart.
Well, that does it. I guess I'm just not willing to take a chance and have my heart broken again. It's been done too often in my life. I'm not sure I can go through more unrequited love. So I'll just cut out Charo's photo from the newspaper, paste it on my wall, look at it endearingly occasionally and think about what might have been.