You bought a house! You finally had a yard so you decided it was time for a dog. You chose me out of all the other dogs. As a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and I made you laugh. You called me your baby and carried me closely. Despite some chewed boxer shorts and a few broken mini-blinds, 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 housebreaking 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 and listening to your secret dreams. I remember running in your new, big backyard. I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, and BBQs. I took long naps in the backyard sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.
Gradually, you began spending more time at work to get paid for overtime. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through the bill-paying frustrations and the debt collector's calls. I never chided you about bad decisions, I never cared about your FICA score, and I never threatened to garnish your wages or repossess your car.
The letters kept coming. The phone kept ringing. Your employer froze wages and stopped giving overtime. Your new second job helped, but is wasn't enough. You stroked me kindly when they took away the car. You told me you'd buy us a new one and that everything would be OK.
Then the bank took the house.
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 months, 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 will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You’ve made the right decision for your financial future and your family, but there was a time when I was your family too. There was a time when I wasn't just a backyard accessory, I was your "baby."
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 him.” They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They
understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, 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 got in over your head. 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, happy puppies, 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 and rubbed my ears. She 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. She said she never got used to this. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She 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 me, 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. And 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 directed at her. It was you, My Beloved Person, 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.
Posted by Jo Ann at 9:20 AM Monday, August 25, 2008
I found this "letter" on the blog of Elaine Vigneault. It says so much in today's bad economy.
Labels: Pet Stories