Approaching the dog as he’s finishing the last of the spoiled fish, he doesn’t appear to notice me as I kneel down beside him doing my best not to spill any of the beer. On any other occasion, I’d feel self-conscious about being outside looking such a mess, and yet this is a pleasant exception. A few people walking past shift their gaze first to me and then the dog, but none linger or show any signs of interest. It doesn’t matter, and yet how sad that anything different in this life is treated with such indifference. Placing the bowl on the ground not far from the dog, the joints in my knees pop alerting him to my presence. At first, he makes as if to bolt, but upon sniffing out the beer, he licks his lips and grins. The fish is now gone, and his gasps tell me he’s a thirsty boy indeed.
“How about some, beer?” I ask.
Tilting his head, he closes his mouth as if trying to understand my words before sticking his tongue out.
“It’s some good shit, and cold, too. You wanna give it a try?”
Flinching as a lorry rumbles past blaring its horn, he eyes me up as I push the bowl towards him. Going in for a sniff, he almost seems to smile.
“Go on then!” I say, and after giving a playful bark, he begins to lap it up. I’m not sure how healthy it is to give dogs alcohol, or morally right for that matter, but as a one-off treat, I’m sure it won’t do any harm. Splashing me as his tongue stirs the beer so it begins to froth and foam out of the bowel, I inch my right hand towards his coat of fur. For a second, he stops and lets out a small growl.
“It’s okay, boy. I’m just looking for a stroke.”
The grow falls silent, and then, much to my delight, he wags his tail.
“I give you a nice drink, and you let me have a stroke. Sounds like a good deal to me, right?”
Reaching for him, I run my fingers through his fur and the warmth of his body makes my soul sing. Only Meeko has the same effect on me, although I’m not sure she’ll appreciate being in the same bracket as a stray dog. Truth be told, though, she’s in much the same way a stray herself. She doesn’t belong and never will, which is why I love her the way I do.
“I think the two of you will get along just fine,” I say, and as I rub his neck and then behind his ears as he laps up the last of the beer, I’m already thinking of a suitable name.
“Don’t even think about it!” I hear her cry from above.
Looking up, I see her poking her head out of the window.
“What on earth are you talking about?” I shout with a grin on my lips.
“You’re not keeping him. You can give him food and drink, but that’s it. I won’t allow anything more.”
“Oh Meeko,” I cry while raising my arms, “where’s that big beating heart of yours?”