My Friend Moyo

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Dash and Moyo

‘My Friend Moyo’ is a work by Dashiell Doggett, as typed by Robert F. Bradford.

As a herder, I know everybody, and when my two-feeter lets me off the leash until we hit traffic at the end of our block, I nose up every driveway and around a few open yards, checking to see where everyone is and making sure no wolves are sneaking over the back fences.

And that’s how I met Moyo.

I just meant to take a quick nostril scan behind a friendly house when I came muzzle to muzzle with a new dog the size of a minimal toaster oven. He stiffened and showed some teeth. He didn’t bark, but that wasn’t necessarily a good sign. Some dogs skip the warning.

I took one step back and dipped my head a bit – not the full hangdog effect, but distinct. I would have wagged if I had a tail (lost in my reckless youth), but I wiggled my hindquarters a little, and he relaxed. It probably didn’t hurt that we were both sporting a hint of grey in those muzzles.

“Turns out that Moyo wasn’t crazy about big dogs, and I’m a big black dog. Well, just a middleweight, but huge next to him”

We moved tentatively closer, almost nose to nose – I still had to keep my head down a bit – and exchanged a formal sniff. His tail is upright and then curls forward, with a white tip, and it gave a hesitant wiggle. Then I politely held still while he trotted around me for a ceremonial first whiff, before I gently turned and stepped around him – it only took about two steps – and snatched a cursory sample for my olfactory data base.

Then I sauntered off to complete my rounds. And we were neighbors.

Okay, I don’t want to sound breedist, but I’ve had issues with a number of little dogs, and figured they were pretty much all the same. And it turns out that Moyo wasn’t crazy about big dogs, and I’m a big black dog. Well, just a middleweight, but huge next to him. I guess I’m not too overwhelming, and Moyo isn’t one of those little yappers who tries to act big. He’s mostly Basenji, and they don’t bark. At least I never heard one. The other parts of him CAN bark, but rarely do.

The second time I found him, he was in his front yard. We dispensed with sniffs and just lowered our forequarters, then sprang off sideways for a puppyish romp. I was as fast as he was, even though his little legs churned at twice the rate of mine, and as a herder, my game was to stay glued to his side.

“I guess we weren’t too different after all, since we became such good friends, and our two-feeters did, too”

Impossible. I never saw a creature make such snappy and unpredictable direction changes without falling over. Trying to match him had me stumbling once or twice myself. After that, I didn’t just like him – I respected him. Even better, I thought he was fun.

We only made it two or three times around the yard – which was hardly a spacious meadow – before we stopped with our tongues hanging out, but my two-feeter, who was laughing on the sidewalk, and Moyo’s pair of two-feeters, who came out on the front porch, said that was the most energetic they had seen either of us in quite some time. That’s what friends can do for you (although nowadays, a few years later, when the grey nearly covers our muzzles, we usually only make it once around the yard).

I guess we weren’t too different after all, since we became such good friends, and our two-feeters did, too. I am welcome in his house, and he occasionally pops in my front door and takes a quick sniff-survey of every room.

We’ve stayed friends through a lot of changes, and sometimes we’ve needed a friend. He cheered me up when my bad teeth – left over from those youthful hard times – got yanked, leaving me with only two. That’s was a big change for me, but he didn’t care or think I was any less.

“Moyo’s two-feeters say that Moyo is a Swahili word for heart, life, and soul. I only know what two of those words mean, but they describe him”

Then he had a new tiny two-feeter come to live in his house, and she got all the attention. Most of it, anyway. He needed his friend. When she started crawling, we had to stay out of her way, because she liked to grab and pull, and when she started walking, we had to be careful not to knock her over. But she smiled and sometimes even laughed every time she saw me, and her first word was “Doggie!” We decided that she was all right.

Moyo was still a bit shy around most two-feeters, and when there was baby’s first birthday party in his back yard, he hid in the attic and let me serve as host, greeting and sniffing every guest and cadging tidbits. Hey, what are friends for?

Some of our two-feeter friends joke that we are nonbinary, since we are both eunuchs. The usual term is “neutered,” but I don’t see how this puts us in neutral, since we are both usually in overdrive or, even nowadays, at least third gear. Moyo’s two-feeters say that Moyo is a Swahili word for heart, life, and soul. I only know what two of those words mean, but they describe him.

And we are best friends. He wags for both of us.

This is a guest post by Dashiell Doggett, as typed by Robert F. Bradford. Want to write for us? Visit www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/essay-submission or email editorial@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk

Dashiell Dogget’s vet guesses that he is some sort of herder, with a bit of Black Lab, and about 10-1/2 years old. He began life as a street dog in Taipei, Taiwan, but now lives a life of luxury in Sonoma County, California. He is working on a children’s book for split families called Dash Has Two Homes.

Robert F. Bradford  has had many stories published, plays produced, and songs recorded. He is an Adjunct Professor of English and Humanities (robert.bradford@dominican.edu).

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