When I was a puppy I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh.
You called me your child and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple
of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was "bad,"
you'd shake your finger at me and ask "How could you?" - but then you'd
relent and roll me over for a bellyrub.
My housetraining took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy,
but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed,
listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could
not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides,
stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs,"
you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the
end of the day.
Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more
time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted
you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad
decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.
She, now your wife, is not a "dog person" - still I welcomed her into our home,
tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy.
Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by
their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and
you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to
another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became
a "prisoner of love."
As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled
themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my
ears and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them,
especially their touch - because your touch was now so infrequent -
and I would have defended them with my life if need be.
I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams.
Together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway. There had been
a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of
me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you
just answered "yes" and changed the subject. I had gone from being your dog to
"just a dog," and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.
Now you have a new career opportunity in another city and you and they will be
moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision
for your "family," but there was a time when I was your only family.
I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter.
It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the
paperwork and said "I know you will find a good home for her." They shrugged
and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged
dog or cat, even one with "papers."
You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar as he screamed "No, Daddy!
Please don't let them take my dog!" And I worried for him and what lessons
you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and
responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a goodbye pat
on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and
leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too.
After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your
upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home.
They shook their heads and asked "How could you?"
They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow.
They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever
anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you - that you had
changed your mind - that this was all a bad dream...or I hoped it would at
least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realized I could
not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to
their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.
I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day and I
padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room.
She placed me on the table, rubbed my ears and told me not to worry. My
heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a
sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature,
I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily
on her and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.
She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek.
I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago.
She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting
and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked
into her kind eyes and murmured "How could you?"
Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said "I'm so sorry." She
hugged me and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went
to a better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned,
or have to fend for myself - a place of love and light so very different
from this earthly place. With my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to
her with a thump of my tail that my "How could you?" was not meant for her.
It was you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of. I will think of you and
wait for you forever.
May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty
Author: Jim Willis 2001 www.crean.com/jimwillis