Buddy had class. He was genuine and honorable and would strut about with uncompromising confidence while upholding his high standard of dignity, elegance and charm.
He could mingle with any crowd, possibly even the royal family. He held his own, knew what he wanted, took what he felt he deserved and never took no for an answer. And that’s exactly why I made the decision one day to bring him along to a wedding. And this time I wasn’t a guest. I was the disc jockey.
I had everything packed carefully in my truck: sound system, tuxedo starched and pressed, and even my dog riding shotgun. And as I raced to southern Vermont that afternoon, I began to question my decision to include my dog in the plans. My reasoning was founded on the fact that otherwise he would be left alone so many hours before I returned home. I simply had to take my dog, and that was that.
“I’ll just ignore him. He’ll sleep in my truck,” I told myself.
As we were greeted at the iron gates to the property, Buddy sat stiff, staring straight ahead as if hoping not to be noticed. I nodded with a nervous grin as we passed through and found some shade on the edge of the pasture too far away for anyone to notice the dog in my truck. I then rolled down the windows and filled his dish.
“You behave yourself,” I sternly ordered. “I’ll be back.” He stared panting as my stress began to mount. Sweat dripped off my brow and stung my eyes as I quickly lugged sound equipment across that pasture.
Soon after, while the sounds of cocktail jazz echoed across the hillside, I inconspicuously made off toward my truck. Buddy was asleep on the front seat, calm and content. I was at peace with my decision. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? I’d get my seat belts chewed?
Then Buddy started barking. Not because he needed anything. Rather, because he felt left out, excluded from the music, laughter and celebration of the day. He was jealous, frustrated, betrayed and — just as I said he would be — ignored.
The lump in my throat grew larger as the barks got louder. The good news, however, was that no one seemed to notice the beautiful mixture of barks with howls resonating across that field, especially if they were inside the tent. The dance floor was packed, the music was pumping, and my secret was safe, until the bride approached me.
“Everyone is having a wonderful time,” she said, beaming and reaching out her hand to me. She was all smiles and compliments. Soon we were joined by the photographer, and that’s when time stood still for the first time in my life. Our conversation was interrupted by a commotion on the dance floor. “Hang on, I got to get this,” the photographer said as he lifted his camera to his eye.
I spun around and there he was, Buddy, on the dance floor. Tail wagging, he strutted along proudly, mingling with a few hundred of Boston’s finest and reveling in his freedom. There was laughter and elation, camera flashes and excited children. Panting in delight with a permanent smile, he was the center of attention, and he loved every second of it.
Knowing I couldn’t just leave my post, I did what any DJ would do: I instinctively grabbed the microphone. My lighthearted announcement of “Would the owner of the dog on the dance floor please get him outside the tent?” was met only by laughter.
“It’s OK,” the groom shouted. “It must be my neighbors’ new dog. He’s been having a blast. People are throwing sticks for him down at the pond. Just let him be — we don’t mind. Besides, he’s friendly.”
For the rest of that night, Buddy must have passed in and out of that tent a hundred times, ingratiating himself with every guest and even sharing some scraps of chicken cordon bleu.
At the end of the night, when I offered to give the neighbors’ dog a ride home, it didn’t matter anymore that the gatekeeper was the only one who knew the truth. I had a tired, happy and muddy dog with his chin on my lap.
After all, I did what I promised I would do. I ignored him. I’m just lucky he returned the favor.
JD Green hosts “The Breakfast Club” on Froggy 100.9 FM. He and his girlfriend, Charilyn Williams, have started Paws, a central Vermont pet bereavement group. It is free and meets monthly at the First Church in Barre, Universalist. For more information, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.