Old Friend

This is a portrait of our thirteen-year-old friend, Bronco: he and my husband lived happily (and messily) together in bachelor bliss for five years until I entered the picture. Bronco would stroll past, aloof and uninterested, when we first met. I could hear him thinking "everything was fine until YOU came along." He was right. No more sleeping on the couch. No more sleeping on the bed. No more digging holes in the lawn. No more free run of the house when the humans were away (he figured out how to open locked windows and would regularly escape). Then came the other animals, each one adopted as he had been. And the children, climbing over him, using him as a step-stool, "petting" him with a little TOO much love, at times. Bronco and I pass each other in the halls like two polite co-workers: occasionally we'll stop for a chat (or a pet), but he's made it clear he's got more important things to do. Like nap. It makes me laugh because I know our aloof relationship is all an act. I know this because one day, years ago, Bronco saved me from two men who entered our home. They never had the chance to execute whatever their dark plans may have been: my fifty-pound mutt of completely unidentifiable origin stopped them. And then, one year later, on a frigid November morning at the beach, Bronco was caught by a rip-tide. I watched in horror as his head went under the waves and I did not hesitate to jump in after him, despite being fully clothed and very pregnant. Bronco may never rush to the door to greet me first (that place of honor is reserved for my husband), but we both know how much we mean to one another.
Michelle Ciarlo-Hayes
Philadelphia, PA