Ode to Yogi
If Yogi were here he would say, “Please excuse my torn ear.”
It was early one morning when we met. I was walking to feed my always-hungry horses. I was still in my morning grog. My horses were nickering their usual “I’m hungry” like “I’ve never been fed”— chatter. I walked to the hay bales that were covered with tarps and randomly stacked. As I bent to lift the tarp, I thought I saw something move. There he was, a very large Pit Bull, lying on a bale of hay watching me. He slowly stood which put us face to face. I froze in my bent position scared for my life. Many thoughts flashed through my mind, mostly about death.
He stared motionless. It seemed like forever. After a while, I slowly straightened, scared to break eye contact. Do I just stand here or run for the house? Then he lowered his large head and simply stepped down off the hay bale. He just stood there.
I could tell by his bent frame that he had lived his life on a chain. He also had scars on his face and a torn ear, which could mean only one thing. But, his eyes watched me with the gentleness of a warm soul. He was skeleton thin and had labored breathing. No doubt that it had been a long time since he had eaten and I supposed that he had heartworms.
I went about my routine of feeding and watering the onlookers. He sat down and watched my every move. I walked back to the house and he lay down by the haystack. When I came back with dog food, he stood and waited until I sat the bowl on the ground before he approached. He showed no aggression. After a few days, I decided that I had to do something about the fleas that covered him. As I drew the water hose near the haystack, I slowly reached for his collar. He did his usual and simply stood still as I doused him.
Days passed and he began to feel better. He started making every step that I made in my predictable routine. He particularly enjoyed the mornings and seemed to be visibly humbled by the fact that he got two meals a day. He always waited patiently for me to place his bowl on the ground before he approached.
After a few weeks, he moved onto my porch. He learned quickly and began to jog with me around the pasture. As days passed, he became a fixture on the front porch and found a spot in the yard to just sit and watch the daily happenings. He had such a large presence.
You know that you can’t keep him, I would think. So, I went on-line to see if there were any placement services for Pit Bulls. I knew there was a risk that he would be put down. I also knew that no one would want a Pit with heartworms. He began to put on weight but the coughing was worse. I decided that my Christmas present would be to have him treated for the heartworms. The vet said that Yogi was about three years old.
I had him only a few months. He died during the second week of the heartworm treatment. In that short time he had so easily forgiven those who had kept him chained and made him fight. In the last hours, it was as though he knew that death was close. He seemed to have a calm resolve as if to say, “It’s okay”. As if to say, “I now have dignity and pride. And best of all, I have a name.”