This beautiful video has deep meaning for me. And not just because, like at least half the world’s people, I love dogs. The video reminds me of an experience I had in my late 30s, when I was trying to “save” a man — a deeply wounded military veteran, he had been a “Black Beret” assassin during the early days of the Vietnam War — and, of course, failed. Instead, he taught me the limits of my own supposed power. I am deeply grateful.
At the time I did not know it, but I needed saving myself, and it came in the form of a large, black dog, about a year old, who looked like a German Shepard, except black. (Austrian Shepard, I was told.) My wounded partner Phil brought “Bo” from his home at the end of a rope in a junk yard, to our little trailer in the middle of a eucalyptus forest near Sacramento California, insisting that we keep it.
Even though still a very young dog, Bo had great character and dignity. He walked with me, and lay by my feet otherwise. As if he was guarding me. And, it turns out, he was.
Meanwhile, during that year Bo developed terrible arthritis in his hips, and ended up looking like a very old dog who walked with a limp.
A year later, when I finally managed to exit that dangerous and disturbing scene, I had to steal away in the middle of the night, and, unfortunately, couldn’t take Bo with me. Onlookers to our drama told me that shortly afterwards, Bo ran away.
And here’s the good part: a few months later, someone caught a glimpse of Bo out with his new owner, a woman in the same town. He was frisky, and walking without a limp, the arthritis apparently gone.
I’ve always wondered whether Bo took on the negativity of that situation so that I wouldn’t have to, if he took it into his own body. Which makes me wonder about this video, which speaks, from the dog’s point of view, first of the man’s cancer, and then the dog’s. Was the same thing happening? Did “Denali” sacrifice himself by taking on his owner’s cancer?