It feels like exactly the wrong moment to be starting this again. On the other hand, that poor, forlorn dug in the picture has probably been left on his golden beach for long enough. If he stares seawards for much longer, something fishy is liable to wash up.
Let me tell you about me and him. I didn’t give the animal a name. The person who knows more about art than me saw a tiny head in a cardboard box on a cold day and decided that this was Echo. His vote arrived about five seconds later, along with an ability to put a physical lump into your life, furniture, attention, wages, bedclothes and spine.
He’s a gregarious, haphazard, clumsy and loving animal. He’s a metaphor waiting to happen. He doesn’t know how to fight. When his hackles come up, Echo is a bit baffled about where they came from. But he doesn’t care to be pushed around, or to have his good nature abused. He’s ashamed of himself when he’s been in a fight. Echo wants to like other creatures.
Yesterday, he took me for a walk. God knows, I needed it. Echo has a trick for knowing what you need, sometimes, and a shake of the head when you reach a spot, far above the glittering fields and the endless sea, of filling his lungs and emptying out. “Fuck it,” he says. “What else is necessary?”
For me, I want a land fit for affectionate dogs that mean no harm. Just a patch of the planet where no one is picking stupid fights that force my dusty, forgotten hackles to rise. It’s not too much to ask, is it?
Just to be left alone to walk my dog in a society that does no deliberate hurt to anyone, or anything, to any child or any hope. When did that become improbable? I am not some part-time Coriolanus. I don’t want the fight. But don’t keep on poking me with that stick.
The dug and me differ in two respects. He’s never had to wonder why a fight could matter. For him, the sun and the rain and the fields will always be there tomorrow. He doesn’t imagine that his few acres could even deserve a struggle.
My sweet Echo wasn’t raised in a scheme. He would throw down his existence for what he loves. But he doesn’t know how to answer when the world gets serious. So here’s that metaphor: my poor, trusting, affectionate and gentle country doesn’t know what all we bad dogs from the schemes always knew.