(Game of Thrones – Season 1, Episode 2 and Walking Dead– Season 2, Finale spoiler alerts. Not very big ones, I promise.)
I was watching this Dennis Quaid movie last night. No nevermind what; it weren’t any good. But the opening scene involved a man, about to be murdered, yelling at his loyal and trusting dog to “Go Home!” as he chucked a stone at the dog’s big-brown-eyed lovingness.
He knows he’s in for it, right? No sense in taking Fido down with him.
Like the classic White Fang, It happened in Game of Thrones too. Arya sent her direwolf, Nymeria, off into the darkness alone so that she wouldn’t be blamed for stoopid-head-Joff’s injury. (Sadly, Lady, her sister’s dog, became the scapegoat – but that’s a different post.) It happens all the time in movies.
In the movies, sometimes the dog goes and sometimes it refuses to go, refuses to go far enough, or keeps coming back out of curiosity or loyalty or fear – and gets itself and/or its owner eaten by The Whatever. In real life, when the dog doesn’t heed? It makes you question its loyalties – or at least its understanding of the situation at hand.
Something kinda funky happened to me today and it made me wonder about dogs who get chucked in the head by their pack-leader.
Now, I can’t speak for the dog, but I can speak for the dog-owner. It’s hard to reward affection with rejection. Even if it is in the other’s best interest. Tough love is called tough for a reason (it’s also called love for a reason). And occasionally, we end up the bad guy. Even when the show’s over and the titles are rolling and the ending is happy and the denouement reveals, “Ohhhhh, that’s why she . . . .” – in real life, protecting someone can make any witch seem like a Bad Witch.
Four out of five of my dogs would take a bullet for me. Even the one with the spinal injury. Even the little-bitty one. But there’s this one guy. He snarls and barks and snaps and wants me all to himself. He seems to be a little confused about who, precisely, is in charge. He makes a grand hullabaloo when announcing to all the other dogs that he is the center of my attention. But if things were to get ugly, I know he’d be too chicken-shit to jump into the fray for me. (And TBW has loads of experience with chicken-shit these days.) He’s the kind that’s all, “Love me, pet me, adore me – and *only* me or I will show you my teeth.” Then he becomes the kind that’s all “Tuck-tail-and-run-cower-in-a-corner when lightning flashes or a frog jumps on the porch.”
I love him but he’s a dick.
Five out of five of my dogs would “Go Home” when told. But, I think only four would go home and stay home. Now, I don’t doubt that they would worry about me ‘til I got back – but they’d stay put like they were told. Unfortunately, I think this one guy, the territorial one, would slink back to where I am and be a dead giveaway. The vampires or dragons or zombies or dinosaurs or serial killers or Ugly Whatever would be positively bamboozled about my whereabouts until he crept his spotty-Spaniel-ass back onto the scene and then, wham, I’m a goner.
I just know it.
It’s because he can’t just give in and trust that I really am in charge, that I really do know how to run this particular show.
Here’s another one – who’s watching Walking Dead?
Are you with me on this? His parents love him, sure; but I’ll be damned if that child isn’t trying to get every last character eaten by zombies. Problem is, Carl actually believes he’s competent. He thinks he’s “got this.” He has the cock-sure conviction that wandering into the swamp to throw stones at a walker is a fine idea. But the adults know better. Not because Carl is impaired – just because they are adults. Just because they’ve been doing this longer (well, life, not life with zombies – but survival tends to be a translatable skill). But that little son’magun won’t just face it that he’s a little kid throwing stones at zombies and getting everybody killed.
Really, it’s kinda the same thing. Carl, like my dog, can’t just give in and trust that he needs to follow directions. Carl, of course, isn’t a dog, but a terrified child. Carl is a member of the survivor’s club, sure, but – Carl isn’t fully-fledged yet.
Think about it. How ridiculous would it be for a dog to turn around and say, “You’re not the boss of me”?
And yet . . . this is what has happened.
I stand here with (le’see, 2012 – 1987 = 25) a quarter of a century of uninterrupted *practice* at witchcraft and magic. Years of intensive training – both formal and informal – and years of hard-core study – with and without books. And some tenderfoot wants to tell me that I have no authority.
OK, Zombie Bait. I’ll get the duct tape.
I’m not even pissed. I know this one will wander around the battlefield – I have my eye on her – she’s not giving away my position to The Ugly Whatever. Not today, anyway. As a matter of fact, she’s providing a welcome distraction. So all of the potholes are her’s to fall into. When she’s tired of bruises, I have the first-aid kit. (She just best not ask me for a band-aid when The Ugly Whatever is looking.)
But here’s some real questions I want to ask:
And then, I wonder about the one that just won’t be docile. The one who thinks she should make decisions. When does this one realize she was being sent home in effort to protect her from a greater danger? Like Carl, does it take having to shoot a man in the head to realize – “Ohhhhh, zombies . . .”
And I also wonder how we go forward with forgiveness after the show’s over.
 And I can say that I distinctly dislike the “dog” metaphor I’m using.
 And that doesn’t help me like the metaphor any better. I want to be talking about near-peers (not dogs and wayward children) but with one distinct difference: experience.
 It’s not like I was strutting around all “Sherriff in Town” to begin with. Can you imagine The Bad Witch in a poly-permapress uniform? In brown? *Shivers.* I’m more of a wax-on-wax-off kind of teacher/authority figure. I keep my mouth shut and let folks stumble along their path (because, it is, indeed, their path). I only put an arm out to brace against cliffs, put a finger aside my nose to indicate a rattle in the brush, or keep a paddle ready for when they’ve decided that they’ve had enough drifting. (I know, you’re thinking: “Lady, if you were all that you wouldn’t have to talk about it.” To which I say, “It’s a blog, folks. My inner monologue – exhibitionist style.”)
 Still don’t like the dog metaphor.
 If Rick and Laurie were to tie Carl to an effing chair and strap skateboards to the bottom of that shit, would anyone say, “Bad parenting”? Or would we all sigh with relief that we could keep some of the members of our stellar cast? Right.