My Four-Legged Guardian Angel
By Gayle Trent
Had you seen Duke, it isn’t likely you’d have called him an angel. In fact, not even I called him “angel.” I called him “my baby.” Duke was a St. Bernard, a gift to me from my parents on my tenth birthday.
I arrived home from school that day and was immediately sent to the garage. And there he was, quite an armful already, but I gleefully picked him up and buried my face in his neck.
Early on, I taught Duke to rub noses with me. This kept me from getting drooly dog kisses, and it was our own special way of showing affection. When Duke was relegated to a doghouse in the backyard, I’d slip outside to sing him to sleep at night. We had a special relationship. He was “my dog”; I was “his girl.”
One summer night after Duke was fully grown, I went out to refill his water bowl. I retrieved the bowl and filled it at an outside spigot. “There you go, baby,” I said, putting the bowl on the ground in front of him.
I hugged him around the neck, and he growled. Taken aback and more than a little hurt, I went to stand beside his house. “You might growl at other people, mister,” I said, as he was extremely protective of me and had been known to growl at others,“but you do not growl at me.”
My lecture was silenced when Duke came to me, jumped up and placed a massive paw at either side of my waist. He emitted another low, menacing growl. I was unable to move, and my dog’s behavior was beginning to frighten me. He was my best friend, my guardian. Was he going to turn on me now? I noticed that his face was turned away from me and that he was staring toward the road that ran in front of our house.
As I watched in the direction of Duke’s gaze, I spotted a man emerge from the shadows and walk down the road. Duke held me against the side of his doghouse until the man was gone. When he was satisfied that there was no longer a threat, he touched his nose to mine and let me go. As he thirstily drank from his water bowl, I hugged him and thanked him for his continued protection.