Whole Lotta Soul

This is me around age 3 with my dog Soul. Soul was a Belgian/German Shepherd mix and technically, he was my cousin Jimmy Joe’s dog. Due to a lot of factors, Soul primarily stayed with my grandmother in her flat just down the block from ours. This picture was taken in her backyard on a very hot summer day in the Mission District. For those of you unfamiliar with San Francisco’s many micro-climates, the best weather in the city is found in the Mission.

I actually have some memories of taking this picture. My mother and Jimmy Joe were there and I remember one of them telling Soul to put his ears up. (He had them hanging down. I blame the heat.)

Soul was very loving and tender with me and despite his size, I could walk him with proper leash technique even as young as I was. He never pulled me. Not once. He was the same way with my Dad, but Dad was the alpha male, so that’s not surprising. My mother, on the other hand, didn’t have the same luck walking him. As soon as the leash was in my mother’s hands, off Soul went, dragging her down the street. Sometimes I thought I could detect a smile on his face.

However, he was extremely protective of us, and one afternoon, we discovered just how true this was. My mother, grandmother and I returned to Nan’s flat to discover Soul sleeping as usual on one of the twin beds. (As a side note, he never enjoyed it when my Aunt Florence came to visit because he lost his bed to her.)

My grandmother went into the bathroom and all of a sudden Mom and I heard her scream. Mom told me to wait and when she reached the bathroom, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Apparently, there was blood everywhere: on the window, on the lace curtains and on the walls. Everything that had been sitting on top of the sink and toilet tank was scattered all over the floor.

Before leaving the flat that day, Nan had left the window open a bit to let some air in. The only thing Mom and Nan could figure was that someone tried to break in and got as far as getting an arm through the window. That’s when Soul took matters into his own paws (and teeth).

We never found out who the would-be burglar was. But if you had your arm practically chewed off, would you come anywhere near the sweet little old lady with the big dog? Needless to say, I’m sure Soul got an extra special dinner that night and that I got to take him for a nice leisurely walk with my parents. Just a typical day in the neighborhood.