The first time I met this guy he was all bluster and bristling fur and bent on battle with a big interloper into his territory. I had recently read a story about a boy and his best friend, a dog, who happened to be his father’s champion pit fighter. I lent the dog’s name to this big feisty buck, not realizing that I’d come to know him and love him as a best friend, and I’d never again see his aggressive side.
I knew his territory; I’d go into the forest to find him, just wandering in the direction of that subtle tug, and more often that not he’d be there in the place that my heart guided me to. Sometimes he was ‘on patrol,’ visiting the scrapes and rubs he maintained to let the others know his boundaries. Other times he’d be resting after a long night of entertaining the ladies. It was business as usual; my presence had no effect on his activities; he wasn’t like a puppy craving my attention nor did he demonstrate affection like a house cat nuzzling against my neck. He behaved for the most part as if I wasn’t there.
Something almost imperceptible changed in me during the span of time I knew him. It was like I learned how to reach out thru him and into something unfathomable. Here I am trying to write about it now, and I just don’t have the words.
As I look into this picture now, I see one side of the image in darkness and the other is bright white light. He intersects the polarity as if to represent the transition between. I called him ‘Wardog’ when first we met, and the name stuck, though it no longer seemed to fit him. Over time, I’d realize that he represented a different sort of warrior to me now. It was in his presence; rather I suspect that it was in the presence of what I found when with him, such that I began to learn how to heal the quiet wounding of my heart (continued with King of Winter 2).
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Nikon F5, f2.8 @1/45, 200 mm, Fuji Velvia 50, Wimberley Head, Gitzo tripod, Great Smoky Mountain National Park