To be fair, I was the one banished from the Texas Renaissance Festival by the King. Brutus was just one of the reasons.
“I don’t like him,” was the official reason given for my expulsion, according to my buddy Cooper, along with the added direction, “Get rid of him.” I’d been working briefly for Cooper as the King’s Carpenter’s Helper after the run of the Texas Renaissance Festival one year.
The banishment was not entirely unexpected. When offered the opportunity to stick around on the festival grounds and help Cooper build booths for the next year, I was warned by some of my friends about the King’s arbitrary nature. More than one friend knew of someone getting kicked out of the festival.
“It’s okay,” I told them, “I’m not working for the King — I’m working for Cooper.”
That, I believe, was the real root of the problem — my professed lack of fealty to the King. After all, anyone on the grounds stays only by the grace of the King, especially in the off-season.
But Brutus definitely added to the King’s aggravation. Dogs are not allowed at the festival itself, but I had nowhere else for Brutus to stay. Since we were staying in my friend, Jim Nelson’s little camper, I hoped I could tie him up on a leash during the day while I worked and keep us out of trouble.
Unfortunately, that lead to an interesting encounter one day. As the King walked through the inner circle camp area, Brutus started barking at him from his tie-down spot. The King stopped and scowled a moment before beginning to bark right back. He did not seem amused.
Right after Christmas, I was officially banished back to the 20th Century. Brutus and I slinked away back to Austin, one of us with his tail between his legs — and it wasn’t Brutus. He was, as always, just happy to be with me.
After a few weeks sleeping on sofas, I spotted a “Roommate Needed” sign and moved out to Creedmoor, 15 miles south of Austin. As soon as I walked in and saw drums and amplifiers and a piano and a huge Grateful Dead poster, I knew I was home.
Brutus took to Creedmoor even more than me. Our house, situated on a gentle curve on a 2-lane road fronted acres of untilled fields behind us. Brutus took one look, romped off, and came back later grinning.
My roommate, Jeff, had a dog named Ace, who was delighted to see Brutus. Brutus, always one for the ladies, sniffed her in all the usual places and waggingly approved of his new protégé. It was as if he decided to show this other pup not only who was Top Dog, but how to be a dog as well.
When this dynamic duo was later joined by Barb, a third roommate’s dog, we reached pack status. My brother, a long-time dogmaster, says 3 dogs makes it a pack, and Brutus quickly asserted his dominance over the subjects of his newfound Dogdom. Soon, the three of them could be seen trotting around the yard or out into the fields behind the house.
That summer we enjoyed the perfect picture of dogs in the country, happy, free and fearless. Brutus took to teaching these new dogs old tricks, and enjoying his time in the country. The there of them developed a pack walk with Brutus leading the way with Ace and Barb trotting along beside him. Barb would want to play a little, trying to nip at Brutus’ ears, but he developed a walk where he spun his forelegs out wide enough he could slap her down every time she tried this. She seemed to love it anyway.
When I picture Brutus happy, this is where I see him, leading his little pack of followers, keeping everybody in line and roaming free as the wind across the open fields of Creedmoor.