Archive for October, 2015

My Life With Dogs #20

Sigmund Freud was the first to note the presence of dogs in the room during a patient’s therapy session was calming to the patient.

The following tells you about my time at Kent State University in 1970 and of the events leading to my return to Huntington, WV.

     Tagore (Doberman) became my constant companion. He loved sitting in my office at Kent State University where I was Director of Radio-TV Information.IMG_1903

As campus unrest was developing across the United States, I remember kidding one evening with Emma Sue, “Taking Tagore to work with me might not be a bad idea.” Little did I realize how prophetic that sentence would be.

World events were triggering daily noon-time protests on campus. The student-world was confused and scared. At one point they would hear our President saying we were not in Cambodia, and the next day’s paper told stories of napalm being dropped; supported by pictures of burning babies. We were not at war, because our military action opposed a liberation front. Yet, the body-count increased daily, and students on every college campus objected.

As the youngest member of the university staff I was asked to attend meetings of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). I attended theses meetings with Tagore at my side. To this day I can’t tell you why I took him. He wasn’t protection-trained and there was no one I needed protection from. He wasn’t going to protect me against the students because they all thought it was cool having him there. So why did I take him?

Back then I think my psyche was whacked. There was nothing to be afraid of, yet having him with me gave me a sense of power…a sense of purpose…and yet, I didn’t need any of that.

It’s really hard for me to get my point across here. Maybe it’s like being a grandfather. You have to be one before you can appreciate the feeling. That’s the way it was with Tagore. He gave ME a sense of pride. Which really doesn’t make sense does it? People looked at him, NOT ME…raved about him, NOT ME…and yet, I’m the one who felt stronger. If your dog has ever done that for you then you know what I am talking about.

Leading up to the killings on the Kent State University campus I took Tagore to downtown Kent on those evenings that suspicions rose regarding civil disturbance. The idea was I would keep the administration abreast of what was happening from my view point. It probably wasn’t a good idea to take him along because I was not transparent with him.

At one particular juncture, two students stopped throwing rocks at store-front windows when they saw us. “Hey, it’s Tagore,” said one of the culprits. They came running over to pet him but couldn’t stay long…the cops were chasing them down.

Imagine all of this…sirens, breaking glass, screaming, a contingent of the Youngstown, Ohio Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang screeching up and down the street on revved-up motorcycles, while TV cameramen with flood lights that could light up a stadium took it all in. And there at my side stood Tagore, like he was some kind of dog on patrol…and all he had been taught was the basic obedience commands of sit, stay, down, heel and come.

Tagore remained in my office the night the ROTC building was burned, and on May 4, 1970 when I watched the killing of four students by Ohio National Guardsmen. Witnessing those events would soon change my life and send me back to Huntington, West Virginia. In the meantime it was my job as a public relations specialist to resurrect the fallen image of Kent State University…a job made very difficult by Walter Cronkite and others of the national media who revel in the events of the day.

 WIL: I know what I am saying here has nothing to do with dogs in general. But, the campus riots, the burning of the ROTC building, and the killing of four students happened with Tagore at my side or while he waited in my office. I do not relive those events without remembering him in the shotgun seat of my Chevy pickup truck and what I shared with him as I traveled back and forth from Kent State University to Hartville, Ohio.

Albert Schweitzer says…

Hear our prayer O Lord … for animals that are overworked, underfed, and cruelly treated; for all wistful creatures in captivity that beat their wings against bars; for any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry; for all that must be put to death…. and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion and gentle hands and kindly words. Make us, ourselves, to be true friends to animals, and so to share the blessings of the merciful.
~ Albert Schweitzer ~