Global.GusOriginally published in the Superior Catholic Herald, April 10, 2014

I have a best friend, Cubby, and a best friend, George. Now I know you’re thinking that both can’t be “best,” and you’re right, ‘cause there’s also my best friend, Sam. I can’t explain it. I simply like them all the best.

My best friend, Cubby, I see fairly often. She’s my most frequent visiting friend. I enjoy her company. We can waste a lot of time together. If she were a boy, we’d be like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. And if those two guys were alive today, they’d probably both be in jail.

However, in this new century, things have changed for dogs, too.  It’s hard to be off leash and to simply run around. But every once in awhile, Cubby and I do just that — we run around and get into a little mischief.

I recently introduced her to my best friend, George, who lives up the street. It didn’t go so well. I’m not sure what triggers Cubby in such aggressive ways, but she went after George, and George wasn’t all too pleased, nor was George’s adoptive dad. There was yelping, kicking, wrestling, screaming and biting, and that wasn’t even the ruckus between the two dogs!

Well, I got out of there fast. I ran home and Cubby did, too. Cubby looked like she had just conquered Crimea, and I looked totally conquered, period. I got into the house and tossed my breakfast. I don’t really like conflict. And I don’t understand why two dogs that I think are the best in the whole-wide-world had to go after each other like they did.

But then again, I’m not perfect. The bishop wonders why I do what I do, too. For example, when I’m hooked up to my leash with the other end hooked up to a tree outside my front door, I sometimes surprise the passersby on the street by charging them. If they have a dog or two on their leash it’s all the more fun just to watch the chaos.

I wouldn’t hurt a flea, nor would I hurt a person or another dog. I would hurt a squirrel, but you already know about that. However, for some reason, I do enjoy startling people from time to time.  Maybe it’s because I was startled once by one of my cousins — a German Shepherd. Boy, was I startled when he jumped out at me. Actually, I left the scene of his crime with two fang marks on my hindquarters. To this day, I’m not wild about those guys.

Now, here’s where I’m weak. Here’s a true confession that I wish I could say I’m not proud of, but I’m not there yet. There is a certain, elderly gentleman that passes by the house from time to time and I thoroughly enjoy terrorizing him.

The bishop can’t figure it out. He tells me he’s a retired Lutheran minister and that I should treat him with respect. He even went so far as to think that I didn’t like the wide, brim hat he wore. Get a load of this: the bishop was so convinced it was the hat that he asked the man if he could put it on his head to see if that would help me to be less aggressive toward him.

When he realized that the hat had nothing to do with my behavior, I think the bishop then thought it must be the multi-pocketed vest the walker wears, but, unfortunately, the bishop didn’t have the nerve to ask if he could try THAT on. I would have found that quite entertaining.

At any rate, now my bishop is left with the question, “Why?” Why does Gus have such a dislike for Frans, the retired Lutheran minister?

And, if I could bark out the words, the answer would simply be, “Remember, Dad, since I was very young I’ve never been wild about those German Shepherds!”

I’ve since learned that the name Frans is another name for Franz, which in German means “Frenchman.” Perhaps I’m going after the wrong guy after all. Oh, there’s still work to be done this Lent. I admit, like Cubby, I do have need for a change of heart in my life. God help me.

I leave you now as I’m still on my leash taking a bow and a wow to God.

– Gus