While everyone in America is celebrating the Fourth of July on Wednesday, I will take a moment to celebrate my dog, Brodie, an incredible golden doodle who looks like a platinum blond, purebred golden retriever. Sounds silly, I know, but read on nonetheless and you too might celebrate him. He is my hero.
I promised in my Christmas column that I would never again write about my very painful knee problem. But it’s not fixed, so I’m breaking my promise. Yep, that’s me, Janis the promise-breaker. And besides, everyone I know in Montauk is probably wondering why the hell is she walking so funny with that grimace on her face?
I’m one of those people who write what they know. And I know my knee is screwed! I believe I damaged it on all those long walks I used to take daily in Montauk, through the woods, to the cliffs at Camp Hero, and to the Montauk Lighthouse, which is exactly one mile from my home. But I’ll tell you: It hurts like hell, folks, and even after two knee surgeries and visits to countless doctors I still walk with a gait. It’s noticeable, not just by pedestrians, but by Brodie, who has helped me in many ways that all the doctors I’ve seen have not. He helps me walk.
The first time it happened I didn’t really know what he was doing, nuzzling my butt and leaning on me as I walked down the hallway of my house. I thought he was just horny. But then I realized, oh my God, he’s trying to help me! (And I’m welling up with tears here at the memory.)
Usually a big, fluffy goofball, always laughing and smiling at us, Brodie saw from his dog bed that I was having trouble, clutching the wall as I walked, and he jumped up to support me. He leans very gently on my left side and I hold on to him while he walks me step by step down the hallway with a very serious look on his beautiful face. I note his beauty because everyone who meets him thinks he’s a she. He’s a pretty boy. I wonder how he even knew that it was my left leg that’s been giving me so much trouble. He has shown a side of him that I didn’t even know he had.
I always wanted a golden retriever, as I’ve heard that they are amazing dogs. But I resisted because of their shedding problem and an allergic child. When I was offered this adorable little golden doodle puppy, I was told they don’t shed. Wrong! He sheds so badly I could make a blanket out of his fur. That is, if I were handy, and I’m not, or if I were inclined to sleep under a dog blanket, which I’m not, because though he’s my hero he still smells like a dog.
At the end of my hallway is the bathroom to the right and bedroom to the left. Wherever I’m heading he guides me there and then waits either outside the bathroom door or in the hallway outside the bedroom to take me back to the main part of the house. The first time my husband saw him do it he couldn’t believe it. He now calls him my therapy dog.
And so I think Brodie deserves an award for heroism. I imagine the pretty boy walking to the stage, guiding me, head held high and proud, to accept his award, but that’s only in my fantasy.
In reality Brodie wouldn’t make it to the stage for an award. He’d be greeting and jumping on everyone along the way. He’s a jumper and that’s one thing we haven’t been able to contain. He can’t help it. This dog is so full of love it oozes out of him and he treats everyone from complete strangers to the gas station attendant as his long-lost best friend. If he sees a human far off, he’ll stand on his hind legs and prance toward him like a gazelle to show the love. But dogs were meant to be a man or a woman’s best friend, so we have to allow him that.
And while you’re watching fireworks and raising a glass, please make a toast to dogs everywhere. They are amazing creatures, even if they sometimes don’t look it.
Janis Hewitt is a senior writer for The Star.