Jasper the lionhearted



EMANCIPATION DAY showers pelting down and I’m criss-crossing St James, searching in vain as well as in rain, for doubles for my daughter. In a side street, in the middle of the road, in the rain, he sits, wet tail wound around his damp, straggly, reddish-brown fur.

He looks like a preemie fox. Standing on rear tiptoe, his front paws at full stretch would barely touch my knees. He turns a baleful eye towards me. Bounce me, nuh. Raindrops spattering my spectacles, I call out to him. He moves reluctantly to sit right outside the driver’s door. His big brown eyes lock with mine.“It looks like he’s saying, ‘Take me with you,’” I say to my son, who arches a doubtful eyebrow. “More like, ‘End it all, please.’”

He doesn’t look cared for – looks like his owner couldn’t possibly care less, actually – but a small crossbreed didn’t arrive here as a stray; and my wife has already dog-napped someone’s pet in Barbados, thinking she was “rescuing” him.

I drive on.

In the wing mirror, he keeps looking at me until I can’t see him anymore.

Two hours later, at my desk, in my computer screen, I can see only the ghost of the little dog. How can anything so small survive alone on a city street?

Something about the way he looked at me won’t let me rest until I’ve done all I can for him; and I’ve not done a thing, so far. My wife, the dog rescuer/kidnapper of St Philip, comes with me.

He’s where I left him. Still wet. Still alone. Still forlorn. Everyone is indoors on a rainy public holiday but a tattooed youth comes to the nearest gate when I call. The dog is technically his cousin’s but nobody don’t really check for him and nobody probably wouldn’t notice he was gone. A little girl calls, “Jasper.” “You want him?” I ask. “Uh-uh,” she replies, shaking her head firmly.

I give the youth my phone number and take the dog; or try to; he barks at us ferociously. He hides under cars. He stays just out of reach but doesn’t quite run away. It’s ten minutes before he allows my wife to pick him up in a towel.

At home, he eats greedily and then sleeps like he knows he doesn’t have to keep one eye open. He spends the night on the kitchen mat.

Next morning, he runs away, tail tucked between his legs, cowering in terror. He neither barks nor whimpers but it takes all morning before we can hold him peacefully.

And then he collapses in my arms, lays his head on my chest and almost purrs.

On the second morning, his tail begins to lift. On the third morning, he runs to us, wagging his tail, jumping up to touch our knees. On the fourth morning, his tail lifts high and curls over his back.

On FaceBook, he is as popular as he was ignored on the street. Every picture scores dozens of likes.

But if you raise your voice, he tucks his tail between his legs and runs under the nearest chair.

Unwanted boys.

They’ll break your firetrucking heart.

What has he got to offer anyone? Except himself?

He’s no guard dog – cats are bigger. You couldn’t take him for a long walk without also taking him for a carry.

But what a lovely little fella he is. Worth a dozen pitbulls.

I want to take him to Barbados but have to content myself with knowing he won’t die on the street and have his little cadaver kicked into the gutter.

We find him a home where he’ll be appreciated.

We take him for his last Savannah walk. He marks his territory and scatters dirt manfully with his little back legs.

Inside the Savannah, we see a barebacked man, his shirt in his right hand. He’s chasing birds, flinging his shirt at them. It takes a minute to realise he’s not harassing the birds for bad-mind but hunting his dinner. His other hand has been cut off at the wrist.

Unwanted boys.

They’ll break your firetrucking heart.

But you’ll quicker find a home for a wet little dog than a grown one-handed man.

BC Pires refuses to accept that penicillin was discovered by Robert Mugabe or that the Norse gods were really from Egypt. Read a longer version of this column and more of his writing at www.BCPires.com


"Jasper the lionhearted"

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