Elijah and I could have been the best of friends if we had not been interested in the same woman. They had lived together for several years before I arrived on the scene and he could not help but think of me as an interloper. He was not pleased when he realized he now had to share her and her bed with me. The only place he could find to sleep comfortably with us was between my legs. So every night he took his Basenji self and walked in a circle, laid down with his snout three or four inches away from my genitals.
This may have worked but whenever I moved during the night he would become upset at my disturbing his sleep and growl menacingly at my privates. He thought he was there to insure the purity of his woman. I will never forget one of the first mornings after I moved in: we had our first disagreement. I woke and was walking to the bathroom urgently and there he stood between me and the bathroom. His woman was in the bathroom doing her morning grooming and he felt a need to protect her. He gave that low guttural growl that said if you try to pass I will inflict injury. I was in need of a bathroom and barely awake and I look at this threatening self and thought I will drop kick you if you do not move. I called out to his woman and said in my sweetest voice, “If you do not bring him to heel. I will.” Seeing the dilemma she instantly started cooing all over him to calm him down and told me to go to the bathroom.
Elijah was proud and came from a pure bred stock and thought the world needed to heel to him. When he stood with his head regally erect no one could resist him. So I knew why my woman loved him so much. But he was one of those aggressive ones who, when he encountered others, he instantly had to snarl. He would never bark at people. That was not in his toolkit. But he would always approach others with teeth baring to show he was the alpha dog among the group. In other words he did not play well with others. I have never seen anyone have to mark their territory as much as he did. He was determined to leave no one any space to operate.
Now it may seem we did not get along, but the truth is we had some very good times together. He was a yodeler and loved to sing with you. He could do it for hours on end or at least for as long as you were interested in singing with him. We used to take walks together and we would usually end up running in reckless abandon at top speed until one of us would, from pure exhaustion, have to pull up. He seemed to like these walks/runs because our woman always kept him on a short lease and with her, he was always pulling the other way. He wanted to be in charge and cut loose but she was always holding him back.
Elijah, as I have stated, was beautiful and could sing like no other. But he was not the brightest. After several nights of enduring his snarls at my genitals we agreed that he would no longer be our bedmate. This had to hurt his male pride but he had to see this day coming. He compromised by claiming the chair right next to the door to the bedroom. This was a wee bit uncomfortable as we knew he was listening to everything we did but the woman thought it was cute that he wanted to be as close to her as possible. Why do I say he was not the brightest? Every night he would claim the chair and the other (Basenji) lady of the house would come and stomp her feet at him playfully; he would chase her around the dining room table and would look chagrined when, after circling said dining room table, he found she had claimed his chair. He never caught on. This ritual happened every night until he was too sick to climb into the chair.
I was to go on a sabbatical for three months. Elijah would have our woman to himself. This would make him happy I know. Especially now that he was older and was unable to walk much and was receiving daily shots to keep him alive. Our woman was a great caretaker of Elijah whom she loved so much. She cradled him in her arms every day and at night before she slept. Every time I called her she would be almost in tears when she talked about Elijah. I would later find blankets on the floor where our woman slept beside him in his bed on the floor.
Two days before my sabbatical I awoke with a shot. I did not know why but every bone in my body said it is time to go home. My rational self argued that you still have this and that to do, you cannot go home yet. But ‘irrationality’ took over; I packed and without stopping I drove straight home. When I entered the house you could feel the grief. I found my woman with Elijah in her arms. He had died in the night about the same time I had awaken with a shot. She had called the vet hospital and they were coming for the body and she was spending her last moments with Elijah. I sat down beside her and placed my arm around her and she cried. My irrationality had been right; I needed to come home.
Elijah and I had always been rivals for our woman’s affection. Yet I still grieved him. We would never run together again. We would never sing together. He would never growl at me again. I find myself surprised that I miss him as much as I do. But when you think about it we shared a love for the same woman and that will always keep us bound together.