A girl grows up wanting a dog. She loves to visit relatives and those who live on a farm all have at least one. Her family saves bones and leftovers all week and she is allowed to feed the dogs so that they grow to love her. Maybe they would anyway.
Reksi is the favourite. He is the only one who is allowed to roam freely. He is yellow. They are friends.
Alas, her family never owns a dog.
Many many years later, in 1999, as NATO planes keep crossing the country on their way to bomb the capital of her ex country, her sister says yelping can be heard from the big trash container in front of their parents’ house. They have a look. The container is empty, apart from a cardboard box and ten white fluffy things, so brand new that the species is unclear.
It is ascertained that they are puppies, blind, fidgeting, crying.
Just the night before sister was saying to mom how they really should be getting a dog.
Now there are ten.
What to do? They learn from some friends that their female dog just had her litter. She can do with three more. The veterinarian chooses three strong ones and they take them home. The rest stay behind.
They soon learn that the female dog is a crappy parent to her own litter, and do not wish to let her have the puppies any more. Fine. They shall bring them up themselves. They are four humans, they will split the work of feeding them by bottle every three hours, nights too. Parents remember when they had babies, daughters don’t remember anything, they just feel the peace of taking care after powerless beings.
Feeding process is particularly endearing, and painful too as their claws and teeth grow. One of the three is getting whiter and bigger, his tummy drags on the floor after feeding, they call him cow, with love. The other two are the same, little bestias molesting the cow to such a degree that he likes to hide under the kitchen furniture where nobody can reach him, including humans.
And so they grow. The first time they are brought to the garden is memorable. They search the cover of leaves to hide under, peeking out like lions in the savannah.
It is clear that they cannot keep all three, or they win and humans become their minions. So the selection must be made. Not surprisingly (but not quite unanimously at first) they decide on the cow whose name is Žak (pronounced Jacques, the other two are Mak and Pak). He needs them the most.
After his brothers are given away to good homes and Žak realises that he is the last dog standing, his demeanour changes. He calms down considerably but is never big on petting and is known to growl at approaching people, especially children. Seeing that he mostly looks like a white golden retriever, people are often surprised at that. One woman says that he is “the meanest goldie she has ever seen”. As it is, he has never learnt to bite, for any reason, whereas his brothers are proper piranhas. He uses his voice instead.
He grows up into one splendid dog and lives to be 13.5 years. Another woman observes: “He is handsome, but he knows precisely how handsome he is.”
He lives through many adventures, the most notable being the mountain stroll from Ljubljana to Maribor with father, and is loved by everybody. He loves to swim very much ever since he is put into the plastic pool in the garden and ordered to sit. When he feels the water around him, he lies down on his back like a pensioner and just swims with it. After that he swims in every body of water he sees, including the Ljubljanica river in my ex city and the VERY cold Alpine stream on New Year’s Day.
He is one of the proofs that all things happen just in time and just as they should.
And the time was 16 years ago today.
One more thing: if there are conditions, get your child a dog. None of you will ever forget it.