[We started #DOGCEMBER with some words about a dog which had little to do with videogames, so I don't see why we shouldn't end it the same way. We are, as ever, hugely grateful to everyone who contributed this year, and we're proud to end it with the following piece about a dog who sounds like an absolute hero. - Sean]
So, anyone who has met me in the last 14 years has really only met the 'used to be' version of me. I used to be a content, happy person who didn't walk around in some shitty 'Lair of the Blind Ones' exoskeleton that covers up the bruised psyche of an adolescent who never really got over the undoing of a man. All apologies to 9/11 terrorist attack and the death of the gentleman Chris Adams; the death of my dog Tyson has no peers as the unparalleled tragedy of 2001.
Tyson was given to my younger sisters on their 5th birthday, the same night of a Mike Tyson fight. He was a black lab and being that he had black fur coupled with my parents' and their friends not being progressive thinkers, he was immediately named after the professional boxer turned convicted rapist turned professional boxer. Tyson was the first pet I had, and he would be the last my family ever had. There was and continues to be no replacing Tyson. He came in, changed my life, and took it with him when he was run down by a car July 5th 2001. That fucking asshole of a day. But I'm not here to tell you how my dog died so much as how he lived.
It was the late-'80s turned early '90s in New England. Mr Perfect held sway in my life as we petered out the final years before I found nihilism and apathy. We, as a family, were not good dog owners but we loved the shit out of Tyson. And I guess that's what incompetent people tell themselves as they fuck everything up around them. Character is the refuse of the weak-minded but fuck it, he had a great life. Albeit a poorly guided, seldom watched-over, misguided one. Tyson was a complete terror, but he was adored. Any baseball fan can tell you that any story can be forced out in any sort of narrative but the truth is in the numbers, and our dog was batting 1.000 as a complete fucking dickhead.
You have to remember, back then things were different. We couldn't Google how to crate train a dog or how to get one to stop attacking children repeatedly. We didn't even have a real structured leash law in place or any animal control system in my town until a rabies scare in the late mid '90s. Tyson roamed the streets of my neighborhood not on a leash or a runner, but free range. Nowadays this is how people like to pretend their organic meat is handled but really my dog had more freedom than anyone who came over through Ellis Island immigration from Europe. At this time dogs would bite kids as they do today, just instead of blaming the dog, the kids were scolded and told they should know better. Really though, they should. Also fuck kids.
Tyson can best be described in one story. Back before leash laws my family and I would like to hike in New Hampshire. One day we load Tyson into the minivan and drive over to the camp at the base. The camp is sort of a run-down house that acts as a visitors center and before it, a pond and picnic tables. Tyson, having still been fired up from being in a car for 20 minutes, bolts out of the door the second it's opened by my foolish mother with a dog expression on his dog face that only can be described as 'chaos lust'. My mother was always too trusting with the dog. She would delude herself into thinking that today was the day our dog would actually get his shit together. As I am sure you can ascertain by me telling you this story, today was not that day.
Tyson, unhinged with rage, sprints around the pond several times like a greyhound. Finally veering off course only to rush an Asian teenager eating her lunch after biting her forearm and barking at her as she approached to get it back. Tyson strong-arms her, ripping her lunch away and runs off to a safe distance where he tears her bag apart and starts eating the sandwich and rendering the rest a soiled mess. This was an act of madness.
By now we are all back at the van debating leaving Tyson rather than being known as the cretins who just set loose a fucking juggernaut. Tyson, having finished destroying a woman's day and probably weekend, rushes back to the van and jumps in as we pull away. It was like something out of The A Team. Tyson hit the back seat of the van and immediately starts cozying up to one of my sisters. You see, even in the disgusting carnage Tyson was still good-natured. He jumped into the getaway vehicle and the only look on his face was of complete joy that he got to see us again. My dad does the only thing he can do, drive off like a coward. We showed up, dropped napalm, left. It took about 3 minutes before we started laughing. I don't think I've stopped since. I sincerely take unending joy in what probably was an emotionally scarring moment in that woman's life, fuck her. We never reprimanded Tyson for this, or practically anything.
To own a dog is to have a tie out of your own cynicism to the actual world around you. You can't have a dog and not find yourself walking around the world you live in and for once not looking at your feet. People come up to you when you have a dog. They engage you and you realize you have ties to people who you would never acknowledge otherwise. People relate to other people who have dogs. That's why whenever a dog dies you feel for it more than people. Dogs don't fuck up traffic or cause wars or do anything other than be dumb dogs. I loved Tyson, but I don't think I loved my dog more than other people love theirs. Even my most sarcastic friends from whom I see nothing but passive resignation towards their actual everyday life that is supposed to matter to them, shine when they are around their dogs. Look at this photo of my friend and her dog. I don't think I've ever seen this girl smile before. You can hear her be happy. You can see her have the elation of a toddler in a silhouetted picture of two forms on a beach.
I'm a battered, chapped ugly soul who will probably die holding my chest face down on the floor. But until that time if anyone wants to drag a smile out of me like a reflex, just bring up Tyson and a moment of vicious beauty. Or the time he shook a Scottie Dog in his mouth like a shark shook Michael Rappaport in Deep Blue. Or the time he humped our neighbor on the beach while she was building a sand castle. Or that time he literally bit our mailman like some sort of cartoon template.
Jed is a fancy boy who, this year, made a bold decision to save the Mr. Perfect reference until the third paragraph.