Fiji growled at me for the first time ever today. I am sure it feels worse to hear a child say, “I hate you,” but I felt like my child said I hate you. I was putting ointment on a wound she has from playing in the chicken coop. The wound must really hurt for her to have said such hurtful words to me. I corrected her and she got on her back to apologize. But I still feel a bit sad. Some people don’t understand the bond owners have with their dogs. They really don’t understand the bond I have with Fiji. I remember when we went through the Paw Paw Tunnel. Nothing but darkness and the sound of dripping water. It was a long walk; I was on the left side of the bike and Fiji was on the right. I shined the flashlight down to check on her. She looked into the light, eyes wide and terrified. But she kept pace with me. It’s like there’s nothing Fiji would not do as long as I was there with her. I felt proud to have her with me, and I picked up my feet a little more, so we could make it out of that tunnel, not for my sake, but for her. She didn’t growl at me when we slept next to train tracks (a train passed by every hour, shaking our tent like an earthquake), when she tore a muscle after running too long, when we rode through flood waters and her trailer was full, when we were caught in the subsequent mudslide, and I had to walk the bicycle through the mud. She kept sinking into the mud, and I walked at one mile per hour because of the weight of the bicycle and trailer, sinking into the mountain side. She didn’t protest when we entered new homes, new situations. She didn’t whimper or lose energy when we would be on the road until the wee hours of morning. I remember starting at 4am one day and not making it to our next destination until 1am the next morning. She didn’t get sick. She smiled and wagged her tail the whole day. When I took showers in strangers’ homes, Fiji would lie next to the door and growl and bark at anyone who approached it. When I went into portable potties or gas stations, Fiji would growl at anyone who approached the door or came too close to our gear. When I felt frustrated and wanted to give up, Fiji, full of energy, would pull the bike and speed us up. She’d jump up and lick me. She’d do something comical.
So excuse me if I’m a little bothered by her words. I know it happens. Dogs do that. It’s the only way they can express when something is wrong or when they don’t like something. She didn’t show her teeth, and even as I write this, she is snuggled next to me. But I still feel like I got into an argument with my best friend.