THE DOG LOOKING FOR ITSELF
Prologue and farewell to the family
By the same author
CHRIST IN BROOKLYN
A COMPLICATED EXISTENCE
THE DOG LOOKING FOR ITSELF
Answers do not come whenever they are needed, as it often happens that simply waiting for them is the only possible answer.
This is the story of Timothy, a yorkshire terrier, the son of mice hunting champions, the hunt of choice for small terriers.
The father and mother of our hero, in their youth, had been true aces and many were the trophies they had won in the catching competitions, filling their breeder many times with pride, when in the fights they had managed to overcome their opponents, for dexterity and skill.
In this ratier atmosphere, full of competitive spirit, Timothy was born, a very pure example of the tiny dog breed, gifted with a very fine sense of smell, great speed and surprising aggressiveness, which often made him look more like a Doberman than a Yorky.
He too was dressed by the same breeder who had already looked after his parents.
From an early age Timothy saw his father and mother engage in very fast races with the little rats and always beat them in agility and coordination, and as the son of champions he was able to capture his victims with surprising mastery, with a technique so refined that as a feline unsheathed its claws and plaited its prey like a magnificent cat.
In the hunt his muscles were tense like violin strings and his nerves snapping and vibrating like a bow ready to strike the deadly and resolving bolt.
His movements conceded nothing to the superfluous, they were calibrated and measured, never exaggerated and never undersized to the commitment of the moment.
He knew how to dose his forces well in order to always and in any case have a reserve of energy, should a further effort be required of him.
His physique, like a very powerful engine from which you can never get the last drop of energy, so that you can always ask him for a last effort, made him prevail over other dogs and made him invincible. Time had defined him: "animal with a cybernetically programmed physique, essence of rationality and nervous impulses, perfect blend of will and possibility, Olympic athlete in the art of wrestling, unrivaled by class and invincible".
And so did the Daily Mirror during an overseas competition in New England: “aggregate of bestiality and reasoning at the limit of canine aptitudes and at the threshold of intelligent discernment”.
Growing up Timothy had become very good, challenged by everyone, he always went out winner from all contention.
With cats, however, he almost never managed to win, because they were faster and had that felinity typical of their species that was the winning element over him, the only obstacle to his canine supremacy, the missing link in the chain of conjunction with the absolute.
Timothy was selected to win, that well he knew it, and winning over dogs aroused no interest in him, because by now he had completely assumed the condition of superiority over his peers. But relative superiority did not interest him. Timothy in all its manifestations never had models for comparison.
The absolute primacy was his real goal.
He had to be the first, the quickest to catch mice in the animal world.
He felt born for particular feats and his task was to redeem his blood with overwhelming actions, beyond the limitations imposed on him by his genetic condition.
The optimum would have reached it by adding to his innate technique the felinity and physical elasticity of a metropolitan cat forced to live using all the senses at the same time and making, in order to survive, a constant appeal to the anger of living.
Seasons of sacrifice and training had marked his short youthful existence.
Her dressage master had a splendid and powerful akita-inu as her personal dog, imported directly from a Japanese kennel.
The big dog immediately became interested in the little yorky, finding in him a free spirit with a great thirst for knowledge and then he started talking to him about things that Timothy had never heard.
She talked to him about inner calm, the absence of emotions and taught him to empty his mind of thoughts, worries and fears. Timothy, without realizing it, was introduced to meditation, the highest one, Zen meditation and with it he obtained the mastery of his emotions, total control of the nerves, qualities that together with physical exercise were the weapons of his success. Every day he alternated hours of running and physical exercises with as many hours of meditation.
He spent whole days on the cliffs of Bempton Cliffs, contemplating the horizon over the North Sea, his body crouched on the ground, his muzzle resting on his forelegs, with the cold wind that made his fur float in the sea breeze and reinvigorated him with his efforts. and hardships incurred.
In those moments Timothy thought about his destiny and understood that he had been initiated into a hard and difficult life because he had been inoculated with the virus of competition and tried in every way not to be overwhelmed by the weight of the agon, questioning himself about his will, so as to always be aware of his state as a fighter, without however losing the most intense meaning of life which is not that of winning, but of being and becoming through the experiences of life itself.
Those were years of struggles and second thoughts, and he was always torn between the ecstasy of competition and the need to tread the world in the most absolute ataraxia to achieve that happiness that competition could never give him.
Doubts and anxieties increasingly disturbed his concentration and relaxation exercises, through which he tried to cancel his neurotic physicality.
Farewell to the family
He became an adult dog and left the Yorkshire community to live with two boys who traveled extensively.
Seeing new worlds he would have new experiences and knowledge.
He would certainly have competed with mice of all kinds and above all he would have had the opportunity to meet some beautiful cats.
Its owners were leaving for Rome, an ancient and marvelous city, with its ancient and noble districts, populated by incredible and deadly cats.
He would have seen the Pincio and the Aventine with their panoramas and the cool breezes of the west that dampen the heat of the heat, flooding the majesty of the domes and ruins with coolness, Piazza di Spagna with the azaleas and the elegant and refined ateliers, Piazza Navona with painters and acrobats, the Trevi fountain with coins and jets of water and waterfalls, the Pantheon with its ancient magic and pleasant bar tables, Caracalla with the ancient fir trees and the grandeur of the Imperial Forums, but above all he would have visited Trastevere, the old city stopped in time with the repetition of secular gestures in the narrow streets and alleys that saw Popes and Carbonari, Pasquini and Janissaries.
Trastevere, in this district the bread still tastes like bread, you still drink the water at the fountains and you still hear the Roman dialect of Belli and Trilussa spoken, and it is wonderful to indulge in the intoxication of the wine of the Castles of its taverns, following the theory of troublemakers and commoner specks that parade in a comings and goings of penetrating noises and smells that constitute the magical ether of the Roman world.
There, even the foreigner feels Roman and he too enters the environment relaxed, not at all disturbed by the history that surrounds him, because only in Trastevere does everyday life become poetry and is naturally present in the passage of time, without being in the least touched by power. washing away of eternity.
Timothy had heard of Trastevere.
He had imagined this suburb as a training ground for incomparable stray life.
What a Trastevere cat must have been!
The old Roman quarter offered a very difficult hunting camp, where a thousand shelters could have found mice, also from Trastevere.
Among the ancient caverns of the palaces, the gardens, the fountains, the cracked walls, the cars and the fountains, only a true hunter could have overcome his prey.
Timothy had to know everything about these cats, it was important that he knew what they thought, how they slept, what they ate.
It had to penetrate the soul of the cat and only in this way by advancing it psychologically could he bridge that distance due to the different physical and chromosomal conformation that constituted the real obstacle to overcome. The cat was the point of convergence of hunting skills, the compendium of the qualities he was looking for.
Indifference and coldness are the true qualities of this socially inferior animal, never completely subjugated by the will of the master, but perfectly self-ruling, self-sufficient in everything and integrated in the metropolitan area, like a lion in the savannah.
Of these Trastevere felines, he must have known at least one!
And finally here is Rome! The mild and staid climate and the romantic mysticism of the ancient city caught the soul of our little hunter who immediately felt apathetic and wonderfully lazy in the most exquisite Roman tradition.
The warm Italian sun immediately softened the hard British bark, hardened by the icy Yorkshire wind.
He felt the hottest blood flow through his veins and never as now did he take pleasure in dozing in the sun, spending the days in absolute peace, only intending to let himself live, spontaneously, without preconceptions and prejudices.
Thus also the desire to compete and to weave fights with cats and mice was dying out and he thought less and less about the purpose of his journey, which above all was to enrich his experience as a sportsman.
On the contrary, he enriched himself every day more and more with humanity and with life that now seemed to him full of new and unknown values until that moment.
The values, which had always set his ego in motion and marked the stages of the legend of his life, seemed to him empty and mediocre compared to the sensations that this new atmosphere gave him.
He could no longer find points of contact between his past and the incredibly different present.
He felt all his philosophical baggage - existential in the raw impact with this splendid and vibrant reality, made of human things and warm truths that was injected into him by his stay in the Eternal City.
Everything was extraordinarily new down here. Immersed in the embrace of the Mediterranean climate, Timothy was losing his bookish pride as a representative of the United Kingdom, he was becoming a Roman, a poet and a dreamer, apathetic and passionate, sentimental and romantic.
By now he was infected by the millenary reality of the splendid city and perhaps for the first time he finally felt complacent towards the things of life.
One May morning, on one of those spring days in Rome, when it is just impossible not to go for a walk, he took a walk around the city with his masters.
They lived on the Cassia and the first district they touched was the Fleming and there they stopped in a cafe.
It could have been a good occasion to meet a beautiful Roman cat, from the neighborhood, and as it happens right in front of the bar, in a corner between a table and a planter there was one of an unidentifiable breed, streaked with red, with a white background fur- milk.
But Timothy in those red streaks had the impression of seeing an Irish cat, a type that he knew well because it was very common in the United Kingdom and he snubbed it, believing that Rome had much more to offer him. Through the coolness of the plane trees in bloom and caressed by a light breeze, after having touched piazza Euclide and piazza Pitagora, the three reached Villa Borghese on the Pincio hill.
Two very interesting feline specimens appeared between the marble busts and the classical majesty of the landscape.
These were typically Latin subjects: impetuous, playful who exuded pride and dignity, peculiar qualities naturally inherent in the aristocratic environment in which they lived.
However, he had noticed similar cats in the streets of Piccadilly Circus and these too did not interest him much.
In the cat he was looking for the primordial element detached from the historical context, forged in the present, where surviving is an exquisitely daily fact, which does not offer any other space besides the contingent needs and which completely disregards historical-temporal dissertations.
That mixture of treachery, slyness, apathy, ungratefulness and shrewdness was the element he strove to find and that best defines the cat.
When he was at home, he always thought lying on the balcony of the apartment, of his past which seemed neither ugly nor beautiful, but simply insignificant and certainly in those moments it did not occur to him to draw up a budget, because it would have been useless, considering the data to which he would have reported it empty.
He was not denying his past, but it can be said that he was questioning his spontaneity and free autonomy, almost a mysterious coercion had pushed him to engage in attitudes and actions whose goal he no longer saw, but only competitive, which then it was the prerogative of his breeder, certainly not his.
Accustomed to meditation, in Rome his meditative levels had dropped to more petty and at the same time higher problems, because they concern the facts of life, which, while presenting themselves in their disarming simplicity, contained in them the secrets of physical and spiritual living.
He no longer thought about abstruse and external facts, about the problems of his soul, he no longer dealt with autogenic training with which to convince himself of being the best, but tried to understand why he could not understand what really needed to be understood.
The fight was now completely reduced to the overcoming of his condition that he did not consider satisfactory, even if the cats still interested and intrigued him, because they were certainly stronger and better realized than him and therefore one step less from the Absolute compared to he, if the Absolute really consisted in being first, in not having terms of comparison.