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  • “The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven not man's.” Mark Twain

    When I was seven, my parents got a divorce. My father was devastated; A golden boy who had rose above a dysfunctional family situation through his athletic prowess. He ran up the ladder of life, success after success, this is how my father escaped his childhood scenes. That was until my mother left and he was forced, for the first time, to examine his own sufferings and failings as a man. This time, he could not run, he got a dog instead.

    Sharkey was his name, a Doberman/ Retriever mix with white patches at the tips of his ears and the toes of his feet that matched the whites of his teeth. Sharkey was something and boy, could he run. He ran after cars; he ran after motorcycles; he ran after imagined sounds in the air; he ran; my father, brother and I would often take him to the nearby park, undo his leash and with wide mouths, watch him go. We would, then, open the car door and Sharkey would always jump in, no questions asked; we were his people; he stood by our side. We would go back to our house, put dinner in Sharkey’s bowl, eat our own, listen to my father read us stories and put us to sleep.

    After my dad would latch our door for the night, I would often hear him weep and strum his acoustic guitar. I would steal peeks through the cracks in the door to see my father with his head in his hands and Sharkey’s head upon his lap. I think, in the end, Sharkey played a pivotal role in healing my father’s heart and helped him face with the sufferings and failings, many of which stemmed fro his upbringing, with full force and in the end, my father emerged from this time as the man he is now; he became the best man that I know.

    When I was 42, I was raped on the side of a road. I was devastated; a runner like my father, I had escaped to Bolivia from the US shortly after my boyfriend’s death. Looking back, I think I came here in search of some happily ever after, some sort of reprieve from grief, but as they say, expectations are premeditated resentments and my expectations were crushed that night when I got something else, raped, to be exact.

    Rape, what a word. For anyone who has experienced it, they know what it is about. It is a journey into the darkest part of humanity; it is a glimpse into the sufferings and failings of men that every human on this planet could do without; however, on that night, I was slammed to the ground, forced to look into the darkest part of a man’s heart. It was the first time in my life that I could not run.

    I could not run even after I escaped. When I woke up the next morning, it was still there, raped. Raped, a word not understood by those people who have not experienced it. I first realized this when I went to the Samaipata doctor who took one look at my swollen face, rolled his eyes and told me to take two of these and call him in the morning. Then, there was the man at the Special Unit who kept me from getting a forensics report because I could not answer his question about why I was raped. Then, there was my male students who thought is funny to write RAPE on my classroom door and the school saw this so unimportant they took two months to remove it even after several requests and who did a number of other things that if we were in the States, I would have them cornered in a court of law as well. Then, there was the counselor who told me that I had caused it; Then, there was the people who would hear the story and return on another day to say things like, “I heard a different story from somebody else (as if this person was more of an authority than me on that night)…I heard you were (and then lower their voice as if they were privy to some inside information) slutty.” (as if this was a state of being that qualified an hour and half beating by the side of the road). Then, there was a brief romance with a man who jokingly referred to me as ‘Rapey’ with his friends, a man who grew agitated as the case grew in the public’s eye and made comments such as “You’re becoming a fucking rock star” as if I was working on my singing career instead of fighting for my life and who left me the day after the verdict was reached. Yes, for those who have not experienced rape, rape means different things than what it actually is.

    This is also something I cannot escape. I was raped, which means I am someone who has seen the darkest part of humanity, which, as all other victims will attest, exists in more than the assailants, and from this knowledge, I cannot run. So, like my father so long ago, I got a dog instead.

    I didn’t get the dog. Kubrick is his name. Kubrick got me. Kubrick was originally a Santa Cruz El Centro street hound (which means he is tough as hell) who originally showed up on the doorsteps of the man who coined me “Rapey” with a pregnant lady friend named Clever. Kubrick somehow knew this man liked to feed dogs chicken (the dude is not all bad, he is like everyone else…severely flawed), so Kubrick sat on his step until the man let him and his chick in. Kubrick and his chick stayed, ate a lot of chicken and bore seven pup there. Kubrick cleaned his pups everyday. Then, they grew up and, like all children, went away. So, Kubrick got Clever pregnant again. This was when I first met him. In our first encounter, he bit my leg. I did not like Kubrick and kept my distance.

    However, on the night before my trial started, I was at this man’s house and Clever died right in front of us. She climbed on a couch, made some sounds and that was it, dead. All of us sat stunned in the dark. The man cried; Kubrick cried and I looked up the sky; what in the hell?

    Kubrick softened after this event. He began to let me pet him; he would even roll over on the bed and show me his tum. He softened so much in fact that the man and I agreed to bring him to my house to let him meet my dogs, Sugar and Mick. He did and they got along famously eating chicken and rice until their bellies could hold no more. Then, the man and Kubrick said goodnight and the man walked Kubrick home.

    I got a phone call early the next day. It was from the man. Kubrick was gone. He had been gone all night. The man did not know what to do; I did not either and was running late for work. We agreed to talk later; I got finished getting ready, went out my door and down to the gate and guess who was laying outside of it…Kubrick. He had been there all night. I opened the gate and he walked in as if he had been doing it for years.

    This all occurred during the most intense part of the trial. The part of the trial where my face was all over the place…in the paper, on the television…I would get into cabs and the drivers would say, “Renee somos todos ,es tu?” I would shake my head yes and they would pull over the cab to call their wives who would cry into the phone “Justicia,” a word that at the beginning of the trial I could not say. For someone an odder ego, this would make one feel like a rock star, but I was a rape victim in Bolivia trying to get justice, which in this country is risky business; This attention made me feel unsafe.

    Kubrick, unlike some humans in my life, sensed this and for the two weeks of the trial, he did not leave my side. I walked to the bedroom; Kubrick followed. I walked to the bathroom; Kubrick followed. I walked to the front gate; Kubrick followed. I would open the gate; Kubrick followed: I would try to get him back inside; Kubrick refused; I would give up and start walking; Kubrick followed; I walked to a store; Kubrick waited; I rode a bike; Kubrick followed; I went to cafes; Kubrick sat by my chair; I got into cabs; Kubrick followed; I tried to throw him out; Kubrick refused; When I got him out of the cabs, Kubrick followed. This is how it went for the last week of the trial. I moved; Kubrick followed.

    I left Bolivia for my safety; Kubrick followed; the man did not. I am alone as my father once was to face the sufferings and failings of men. Sometimes this journey is too much and I go for walks. Kubrick follows. We walk to the park and then, Kubrick begins to run. My eyes follow.

    Kubrick, a Doberman/ Retriever mix with white patches at the tips of his ears and the toes of his feet that matched the whites of his teeth. Kubrick is something and boy, can he run. He runs after cars; he runs after motorcycles; he runs after imagined sounds in the air; he runs.

    When I head back to the house, he follows. I feed him, Mick and Suga and I put them bed. There are times in the night when I wake up with tears about what has occurred in the past year and a half since the crime. Kubrick puts his head in my lap.

    The heart of humanity can be so dark that is easy to get lost, to fall down, to become crippled, to lose the desire to run. However, as Sharkey showed me so long ago with my father, there is always some kind of light, some kind of buddy who will run when I can’t. The trick is to notice these gifts even in the dark and when these gifts are given, to follow them as eventually they will bring you to the light that does exist in this dark, dark world. This is what my father and Sharkey taught me so long ago…my dad followed Sharkey and eventually that dog healed my dad’s broken heart. Today, I will follow Kubrick and hope for the same.

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