Reflections of Sultan

by Luigi Kapaj

Sultan was the worldís greatest dog. When you are eight years old, there is nothing more awesome than a really big dog that likes to play. But Sultan was already getting old and sick and when you are eight years old, you donít really understand such things. Perhaps if I did, I would have been more careful the day he bit me.

I grew up knowing Sultan. My aunt had him as long as I could remember, which wasnít very long, but at the time it seemed an eternity. He was a big dog, biggest ever, bigger than any other German Shepard I have ever seen. When he went on his hind legs, he was as big as my dad. He used to be a police dog before my aunt got him. To me he might as well have been a big teddy bear because he always was friendly and always wanted to play. Sometimes Iíd throw a ball and other times we would just run all around.

I stayed at my auntís house when my parents went out. They were always busy so I was there a lot. My two aunts and my grandmother watched me when my parents worked. The best thing was that I got to play with their dogs. Sultan was the coolest. He scared everyone but he was always nice to me. Thatís why I was so surprised that day.

I was playing with Sultan but he got lazy again. I didnít mind. I had my ball to play with so I was fine. It was a tiny football. It was so small I had trouble catching it. I threw it and it always bounced really weird. One time it rolled around Sultan. Not too far, actually it was close enough I could just reach over him toÖ

I blacked out. I heard some growling in the background. If I concentrate, I remember Sultan looking at me but nothing else. When I could see again, I was lying on my side. I heard Sultanís nails on the wooden floor walking away. I tried to look but I couldnít move my head. I think I was crying because I heard crying, but I donít remember crying. I remember my neck tickled. You know when you spill some water on your neck and it drips down? It tickled just like that.

My aunt screamed and called the police. They came real quick. My aunt lived near a Dunkiní Donuts. Iím so glad cops and ambulance drivers like donuts. When they took me outside, I remember seeing all the neighborhood kids lined up to watch.

At the hospital, I was on my best behavior. My aunt was a nervous wreck but I kept my cool. I knew where both my parents were. I memorized my dadís work number. I even knew the name of my pediatrician. I think I impressed the nurse. She was the cutest nurse with the longest, blondest hair. The same one who saw me every time I wrecked my bike. I had to argue with them about the doctor. He was a plastic surgeon so they assumed I had the wrong name. He was on staff. When he came over he just shook his head and asked, "What did you do to yourself this time Luigi?" He looked me over real good but wouldnít even think about operating until my parents came over.

When my parents finally came, my mom freaked. So I told her to get out. Then they put me under. I woke up at night in a bed with a nurse watching me. I was there for weeks. When the stitches came out my mom counted them. Forty stitches. Forty! This was more than any of my friends ever had. I just remember the doctor telling me to be still. But I couldnít because it tickled. Every single stitch being pulled out tickled. I got tickled forty times. This was worse than my aunt tickling me forever.

When I got out, they didnít let me see Sultan anymore. I wasnít mad at him. I grew up a lot that day. I was eight and a half now. I was old enough to know he was sick and hurting. So I forgave him. I also know he could have killed me but didnít. Sometimes I wonder what he was thinking that day.

Iím getting old. My pups are big. Iím tired all day. And my back hurts. It didnít used to hurt. Now it always hurts. The kid still visits me. I donít let him on my back no more. I jump on him instead. Heís a big pup now. Not as big as mine, but he gets bigger each day. He is always petting me, so I lick his face.

The hand that feeds me took me to some strangers once. They tried to touch my back. Persistent little rodents. I didnít let them. I showed them whoís boss. Iím still the Sultan. I used to fight. My old feeder wanted me to fight. So I went out and fought. I won. Thatís why I am the Sultan. But then he gave me to this new feeder. She is nice, but wonít let me fight. So I teach my pups. I am too old to fight anymore. So I relax. Except when the kid visits.

The kid always wants to play. I donít always want to play. So I lie down and let the kid play around me. If he gets close, I lick his face. Maybe heíll play with my pup for a while. But heíll come back. Iíll just take a nap.

I wake up. The kid is next to me. He has a ball. The ball is rolling. Why is the kid leaning over me? OW! That hurts. Iíll show him. I get his neck. Iím still fast. I throw him around. No need to kill, just show him whoís boss.

Wait. Why am I biting the kid? Heís only a pup. I lick his face. He pets me. I better put him down. I didnít bite hard. I taste blood. No fur. I think I bit too hard. Iím the Sultan. I donít need to bite a pup. Better not show my pup. He shouldnít learn this. Itís not like a Sultan. The other feeder is here. She is scared. She closes the wall.

Now there are strangers here. I smell them. I hear them. They are all around the kid. They take the kid away. The hand that feeds me came home. She is angry. Itís not good to make your feeder angry. The kid didnít come back.

A long time passed. My feeder is angry. Wonder why? I miss the kid.

The kid is alive. He doesnít visit. He tries to visit. The hand that feeds me wonít let him. The other feeders stop him. He shouldnít visit. I hide. I come and look. I like to see the kid. But then I hide.

Now I have a new hand to feed me. My pup too. He has a bigger den. My pup can run around. I can relax. I retire. The kid doesnít visit. I miss the kid.

© 2002, by Luigi Kapaj
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last updated on January 3, 2003

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