Kickass, the doorstop dog, knows that at some point on this MLK Day, his keeper will tell about Bob Shepherd, his Black friend from Chicago, and how they met on a snowy Korean hillside in 1951 with out-going artillery whispering over head and the booming of giant guns rolling over the hills. Bob came into the Infantry platoon of mostly Southerners as part of the military integration. It was the beginning of a treasured friendship that transcended race, and through the decades taught a racially isolated family that color doesn’t matter: good times and laughter does.
Bob always had a dog, once a gentle old German Shepard—“Bo,” as a guard dog for his house on Chicago’s south side. He often brought Bo to the keeper’s cabin in the woods, and while Bo accepted his rural surroundings, it was apparent that he would rather be back in Chicago doing his job.
That’s where he was one day when a young scoundrel forced his way into Bob’s house, and was promptly chased upstairs by Bo. Thus cornered, the young man used Bob’s upstairs phone to call his mother who called the police who came to Bob’s house, obviously with guns drawn. Confronted by Bo doing his job against all invaders, the Chicago police shot Bo dead, and that’s where Bob found him—in a pool of blood on the living-room carpet, when he came home later.
Bob died of a heart attack many years ago and he left a big hole in the lives of the keeper’s family. Everyone remembers his knee-slapping laughter, the keeper, in particular who recalls many occasions of cultural crossover, not the least of which was the dinner at which Bob cooked up a delicious pot roast along with a platter of pigs’ ears.
The keeper says he should have done more to try to replace such a special friend. He couldn’t have done it really–completely, but he should have tried. It would have improved his life. He thinks about that on this MLK Day.