Yesterday I was walking my dog, Hamish Macbeth by a small dog park in our neighborhood when a dog who looked exactly like Hamish ran up to the fence and started to bark at Hamish.
When I say he looked like Hamish I mean he looked exactly like Hamish- the same smooth rounded brow, the same build ( Hamish is a bit more on the buff side, he’s pretty athletic ) the same dark brown coat with just a touch of a gold reddish tint that only comes out under bright lights.
If they stood side by side you’d have a hard time telling them apart.
The difference was, Hamish’s twin was mean and I’m pretty sure that meanness came from a lack of confidence and fear.
The dog that looked like Hamish tried to jam his muzzle through the fence. He backed up, ran at the fence again and snapped and growled.
I told Hamish to sit. I told him to ” look ” and his eyes went straight to my face.
Hamish’s twin continued to melt down.
” Give us five minutes.” the man with the dog said- he meant that me and Hamish would have to wait for them to finish using the little park. ” My dog won’t back down.”
There was no mistaking it. The man was bragging. He was proud of his dog’s behavior.
His dog was wearing a pinch collar- no judgment, I used the same one until I learned to help Hamish not pull so hard on his leash- he was about a year at the time and we used it for less then two months.
The other dog’s collar was too tight.
I’m guessing this dog was wearing it because there was handling issues.
Hamish’s collar and harness are a little worn out and a bit too loose. He’s good when we are out walking because he knows what to do, so I’ve been slow on replacing them.
When I was sure I had his full attention I said. ” Hamish. Walk.” And Hamish walked along and the dog followed us snapping and barking the entire length of the fence.
Hamish had his ‘job’ to do so his twin was off of his radar.
I took one more look to make sure- this dog and Hamish had the same exact face. It was uncanny.
But that’s where the resemblance ended.
Hamish’s eyes glow, they shine when he’s happy. That’s how my boy gets away with getting things like cookies and snacks from our visitors when they think I’m not looking, why strangers want pet him and when he used to jump I had a hard time breaking him of that habit because people were likely to laugh at him then to get angry or scared.
It did tug at my heart.
If that dog on the other side of the fence had been raised differently he wouldn’t have acted the way he did at the fence.
When Hamish and I were on the other side of the street the man took his dog out of the fenced area and his dog lunged, barking and snapping at a dog that walked by them. He barked at a ball that rolled down the hill towards them and he started to bark again when a car door slammed.
I looked down at my great dog- his tail was wagging, he was trotting , he knew he had followed his instructions from me to a ” T” and he was enjoying the moment.
Then I had a thought that shook me.
What if that man had somehow ended up with Hamish and I had ended up with his dog?
Hamish would have been on the other side of that fence- angry and scared and intimidating enough that people wouldn’t have wanted to get close to him.
Nobody would have ever known that this kind-hearted, happy go lucky dog was wrapped up in all of that aggressive behavior.
The world would have been a little less loving and fun without a happy Hamish in it.
My heart broke a little for that dog who looks like my boy because I’m sure he just doesn’t just look like Hamish.
I knew he could have been like him too.
Photo: A.M. Moscoso