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Roscoe: He’s like a brother to me

roscoe 007

Here is how I greeted my little brother when — after decades of living on opposite sides of the country — he moved to the same North Carolina town I live in:

With a quick one-armed hug, a pat on the back, a bagful of barbecue and some words to the effect of, “Howya doin’?”

Here is how I greeted his dog, a yellow Lab named Roscoe:

welcome 006With a welcome sign, balloons, flowers, treats, oodles of hugs, playing tug of war, copious amounts of head-petting, belly rubs, laying on the floor and spooning,  some of the aforementioned barbecue,  and words to the effect of “Roscoe! Roscoe! Hi buddy! You’re a good boy! What a good boy! Yes, you’re a good boy! You’re just a good, good boy! Yes, you are! Yes, you are!”

Sometimes I think dogs were created so that men might be able to show emotions.

I am happy as heck that, after 40 years living in different states, my brother and I are occupying the same one. I freely admit that. But do I show him that? Of course not. I reserve my shows of affection for his dog. Maybe that’s what most men do. At least it’s what this one does.

In greeting a friend I haven’t seen for years, in visiting my father, or mother, or sister, I tend to act, on the surface, as if I just saw them yesterday. I don’t get teary, or engage in long embraces, or scream or jump up and down. I don’t effervesce, for my personality is a decidedly non-carbonated one.

I don’t get as visibly excited about people as I do dogs, but I think the reasons for that go beyond the fact that I’m of the non-bubbly male persuasion.

It’s only natural to have some inhibitions with humans. For one thing, you can’t automatically, 100 percent, trust them. For another, we tend to worry what another human might think of what we do or say. But mostly, they don’t reciprocate quite like dogs do. No other animal does.

If a long lost friend were to madly wag his tail upon seeing me again, it might be different. That might lead me to rub his belly, making him show even more delight, leading me to wrestle on the floor with him, or play some tug of war with a pillow. But being human, we’re content with a hug or handshake, and then using our words, which we — especially us men — generally keep a leash on as well.

When a dog makes me feel all warm and mushy inside, not only can I let it out; it’s hard not to. Scientists would probably say it’s because loving on a dog triggers the release of some chemical holed up in some body part.

roscoe 011But I think it’s mostly just human nature. We all want somebody to lay some love on. Dogs are the easiest creatures on which to lay it, and the most likely to clearly and immediately show they appreciate it. Dogs aren’t going to reject you, or judge you – no matter what stupid thing you say, or what sort of baby talk you’re babbling.

Somehow, with dogs, that dividing line between the love you feel, and the love you feel comfortable exhibiting, doesn’t exist.

But back to Roscoe, and, oh yeah, my brother.

His partner, James, moved here for a new job about a year ago, and he’d been sorely missing Roscoe, who he considers his dog. This week they all drove from Arizona. Roscoe, despite some concerns about how he’d do on the road, behaved wonderfully and seemed to like the cross-country trip.

They arrived in Winston-Salem earlier this week and Roscoe seems to be adjusting nicely, though he did run through a sliding screen door, not  realizing it was there. (Did I mention he was a yellow Lab?)

I visited as they continued unpacking Tuesday, and on the ride home started thinking about the disparity between the love I showed Roscoe and the love I showed my brother (even though, I’d argue, bringing barbecue shows pretty much love). I didn’t exhibit, or verbally express, how happy I am he’s here.

I only showed Roscoe.

I’m that way with all dogs — even those I’ve just met. If I were to behave when meeting a human as I do upon meeting a dog, I would probably be arrested. But I can’t help but wonder whether I should come a little closer to that, and let my feelings out more when around humans, especially those I hold dear.

Maybe that’s another among the infinite number of purposes dog serve: to be surrogate recipients of the excess, bottled up, or otherwise unexpressable love that we — or at least some among us —  hold back.

Comments

Comment from Eighteenpaws
Time October 11, 2013 at 9:50 am

Foremost, you are a writer afterall. With this blog, in your unique and best way, you just expressed to your brother how you feel about him. What a heartfelt welcome! Also, anyone who gushes over my dogs automatically compliments me and earns my heart. Great photos, as usual, and looking forward to Ace & Roscoe tales. Thanks for this day-brightener!

Comment from Lynn (in Louisiana)
Time October 11, 2013 at 10:41 am

I think you just did!

Wonderful post. Love the lab thru the screen door. Mine did that once too. Got to love em!

Comment from vida
Time October 11, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Dogs are easy to love, people not so much. And for those of us socially awkward aspie types, dogs are essential in social situations. My family understands my loving on their animals is my way of loving on them at one remove. I bet yours does too. Besides, I never have to count under my breath to know when to break a hug with a dog, they tell me.

Comment from kathryn
Time October 11, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Good job! I love you too. ;]

Comment from debbie
Time October 12, 2013 at 12:02 am

true dat, John. I too think our beloved animal companions are our guides to ‘a magical place’ of childlike lightheartness. Fortunate are those of us who know that place….. journey on friends

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