Wednesday, October 1, 2014


     Once you have a dog, you'll always wish for that kind of companionship. When I was in High School, mom, who worked in a medical research institute, brought home a Doberman Pinscher puppy. He was born to a female, whom they had at the lab. 
jpeg (260×194)     I knew that he'll be coming, so I ran home from school during the recess. A little dog sat in a basket, hanging his nose gloomily. When he saw me, he climbed out of the basket, ambled to me, and I noticed his head and paws, way too big for such a small body! 
     Elf imprinted on me from that moment and never wanted to be apart from me. 
     We never had such hard time toilet training Juli, our first dog, as we did with Elf! Our whole apartment was covered in plastic, which collected odorous deposits from Elf.               
     When he grew, and his ears stood up, it was time to clip them. Mother found a vet who would come to our home and do it cheaper than at the clinic. We-e-ll, here is a piece of advice: never deal with a cheap doctor! 
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The way ears should look
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The way Elf's ears looked.
     He was drunk! He cut too little off Elf's ears (usually, the Doberman's ears look like little horns: there's not much left after the clipping). For better or for worse, when Elf grew up, he looked like a doe - "a deer,  a female de-e-e-r" -  so big his ears turned out to be. We put the clipped pieces on the balcony and they froze there. Elf would sniff at them and, for some reason, get all scared. He soon outgrew his ungainliness and became a sleek, beautiful animal, maybe, a little too small for his breed.  
      Elf proved to be a hopeless coward. I think, I know a reason for it: when he was still a puppy, I saw two big German Shepherds take run at him. They picked him up together with their noses and flipped him over their backs! Since then, he was scared of everything, and, especially, of the German Shepherds! 
     When Juli, still a puppy, saw a horse in the woods, he sat down, lifted his tiny nose to the sky and barked his head off, warning the horse not to come any closer to his humans. In contrast to that courageous, poodle-sized dog, when Elf took a first look at the horse, he ran so fast that, in a few seconds I couldn't see him anymore! He might've gotten an idea that, a horse was a huge Doberman Pinscher and not another kind of animal! 
     Not only was Elf a coward, he also had too much energy and too little good sense. That dog would grab a huge tree branch, at least five feet long and very thick, and run with it across a busy highway! When he got excited (usually, scared) he'd start snapping at one of us instead of the thing that scared him! 
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     One time, I took him for a walk late at night. He was roaming somewhere around, when I noticed a man following me. The man ran up from behind and grabbed my hair. From sheer fright, I called Elf's name. When the guy saw a Doberman running towards us, he let go of me. Elf made a show of aggression; he barked thunderously and lunged at the attacker, never actually, coming close to him. Never mind, the sight of those huge fangs was enough to make the man run away. So, I shouldn't complain: Elf did save my life - and virtue! 
Having a large dog in an apartment was not a simple matter. We were a busy family: at times there was no one to take Elf for a walk. Often we'd just let him run out of the door and take care of the business by himself! One day, my sister, Lera, who was constantly trying to make her thin hair look better, came home with a new dye job. Her hair turned out looking like orange, lifeless brass. That evening, Elf went out by himself. In a few minutes, he came back and excitedly deposited a dead kitten at my sister's feet. The kitten's pelt was the same hue as Lera's hair! 
Another time, it was the morning. Dad was suppose to take Elf out for a walk, but he kept delaying, talking to mom about something. Elf was becoming more and more desperate. He ran back and forward with a leash in his mouth, jumped on my father's back - nothing helped. What happened next, occurred right in front of my nose (I still laid on my sofa in the living room). Elf trotted to dad's suit jacket, hanging on the chair, and gracefully lifted his leg. He aimed well: dad never wore that jacket again. 
He was impossible at the dogs' training place! Obeying the command, other dogs would sit and wait. He would invariably jump up, with his tongue lolling happily, and follow me. He drove the trainer crazy, but then, when it was time to jump over an obstacle, he would sail over it, never touching his feet to a small fence, leaving the trainer speechless with wonder. 
In the winter, Elf would run out of the apartment building's door and dive right into a snow pile, although at home he needed a blanket to keep the cold away. He chewed holes in his cover and, while he slept, his ear would stick out of one of those holes and follow the conversation in the room. 
He chewed our shoes and left huge, evil-smelling puddles of urine in the hallway, if we left him alone for too long. He snapped at our feet, when we tried to jog with him in the woods. He ran away from a little poodle, because he was afraid of it. We loved him still. 
 In more ways than one, our time in Russia was running out. The approach of our departure, though, broke my heart. Giving up Elf seemed absolutely impossible. I'm an idiot. A pet is just a pet, right? But for me, adopting an animal means that we give it a hope that we'll be together always. 
Unfortunately, leaving Elf was not going to be a problem. 
He became sick. He bled out and we didn't know what to do. The vets didn't help. We spent hundreds of rubles, but there was no hope. 
On the night when he died, Elf was lying on his "holy" blanket. We saw him fighting for breath and couldn’t do anything to help him. 
As I passed by him, he rose on shaking legs, still determined to follow me. We lost him soon after that.
I'm an idiot. A pet is just a pet, right? A few nights later, I got up to go to the bathroom, which I rarely did in those youthful years.  As I came out into the hallway, I stopped short. Elf stood there, sadly looking at me! In a second, he was gone. 
Was it a figment of my imagination? I honestly can't say. I just know that, the memory of him is still poignant  in my heart, and, in that fashion, he never left me.
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1 comment:

  1. Dina! I found your blog. Such a moving story.