Dr. Wayne Davis: A dog named Buck and his loyalty
Buck, a red heeler, came in the clinic for vaccinations. He was somewhat larger than a typical heeler, and when we picked him up to put him on the table, it was obvious he wasn’t a backyard dog. Buck was well muscled, not just genetically, but as a result of his lifestyle: he was a working dog. He was solid. Everything about him spoke of strength — from his physique to his confident attitude. No cockiness, no posturing, no sign of aggression that proved his fear and no sign of avoidance. It was business as usual.
Considering what Buck did for a living, (and he did it well, his owner assured me) his courage could not be questioned. Not only was he protective of the family and property, he had 1,000 pound cows and 2,000 pound bulls to contend with. He had to get up close and physical with animals that outweighed him by, up to almost a ton, that would just as soon stomp him into the ground as look at him. After we put him back on the floor I said something to him using his name… no response. I used his name repeatedly with increasing volume. Not even a twitch of the ear, not a shifting of his eyes from his master. It was as if I didn’t exist. I felt the need to diagnose the reason for my unimportance. I looked in his ears… nope, no ear phones. No cell phone for texting, no iPad, no video game, no television with a football game. No, he didn’t care for a treat.
Cathy, a friend of mine likes to quote (usually with a chuckle) Will Rogers: “If you’re thinking you’re a person of some influence, try ordering someone else’s dog around.” My unimportance, I realized, was a result of his extreme loyalty and trust for his owner. No one else’s opinion or presence (or even voice) mattered all that much. Buck’s confidence wasn’t just in himself, it was in his owner. If the boss brought him here, it was the place to be and the thing to do. Besides, what was I compared to — a 2,000 pound bull — was pretty unintimidating. Buck’s confidence and resulting strength (I perceived) was a result of his loyalty in something (someone) he considered bigger than himself. I started parting his hair, looking for evidence of a tattoo that said Semper Fidelis.
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