My childhood friend, Danny, was a dog-person.
I remember once, we were painting a house together. The house was old. Four of us boys were painting it because the owner was too old to do it himself.
We took several days to finish—earning twenty bucks per boy. We painted the clapboards flat white and the shutters green. We drank well over our legal limit of Coca-Colas.
And one sunny day, a dog trotted into the yard while we painted. It walked with a limp. It hobbled toward the house and crawled beneath the porch.
Danny was the first to crawl in after the dog. Dog-people, you see, do strange things like that.
We could see the dog was in bad shape. There was dark, shiny blood on its stomach. It growled if anyone got too close.
“He’s hurt,” said Danny. “I think he’s needs our help.”
The first thing we did was name the animal “Blackie”—an original name, I know. Then, all four of us laid on
our stomachs beneath a sagging shotgun house, in the dirt, talking in high-pitched voices to Old Black.
“Hey boy,” we said. “Who’s a good boy?”
“Here Blackie, here Blackie.”
But it did no good. Blackie a nervous wreck. He panted so hard it looked like his chest was going to explode.
Danny came up with an idea. He suggested we read books to Blackie.
“Read to him?” I remarked.
Danny reasoned that whenever his own mother read stories to him before bedtime it calmed him, lowered his blood pressure, and made him an all-around amiable human being.
So, we worked in shifts. Three boys would paint the house; one would stay beneath the porch with a book and a flashlight.
We did this for a day.
Blackie started to trust Danny. Whenever Danny was nearby, the dog seemed relaxed. Whenever…