On the first day of the year 2000, I woke up and realized all was well – robots hadn’t made us their bitches.
And I went out and got myself a puppy.
He was tiny, with the cutest little Hitler mustache. He fell asleep in my lap whenever I held him. And as time passed, he became a blur of energy who made me his crazy sidekick.
And for 11 years, we were inseparable. His big tail wagged and smacked everything in its path. He strained on the 30-foot lead I clipped to him outside our place, greeting every stranger that passed by. He gave big kisses with his big tongue to everybody, especially my baby niece and nephew, who stood at face level with him. And he was smart – he peed and pooped on command.
Every time I finished taking a shower, I saw that black nose pressed against the glass door, forever the Kato to my Inspector Clouseau, ready to start in, then run and grab a weapon (usually a green, squeaky frog) and keep my fighting skills sharp.
He was a tank, which made it all the more shocking when he suddenly became ill. This was a dog that had once been hit by a BMW and walked away, smiling and wagging that tail.
But two days ago, he wasn’t the same. He barely had the strength to stand. He refused to eat even ice cream. And the tail stayed tucked between his legs. I knew there were side effects from his chemo treatment, but he in was in very bad shape. I took him to the vet, thinking maybe she could hydrate him and make him feel better, but as we drove there, it began to sink in that this was the end.
And the vet confirmed it. She heard crackling in his lungs from the cancer. He needed a blood transfusion, had the onset of pneumonia and his gums had turned white. It was time for the staff to bring him into a room with me so we could say goodbye.
He was too weak to kiss me, but I kissed him a lot, and scratched his back for the last time. And I knew I wasn’t putting him down a day too late or a day too soon, and that gave me some peace.
Now, for the first time this century, it’s just me in our home, on auto-pilot, stopping myself from filling his water dish, or from doing the math if I have plans and need someone to walk him. But I smile sometimes, because that dog made me happy every day we were together. And I suppose if I hadn’t loved him so much it wouldn’t hurt this bad to be without him. That’s the tradeoff.
Thanks for everything, Petey. It was the best.