Damn Fine Pets

I’ve always asserted that I am not a dog person.  It’s true that I shy away from dogs.  It might be my relative unsteadiness.  I can be knocked sideways with little effort.  Perhaps I don’t like the feel or smell of a puppy; who knows.  Maybe it’s a myth.

I spent many hours sitting on our porch back in Brookside in my nightgown, calling to Chocolate, our runaway Beagle.  I lamented his accidental death which, truth told, I unwittingly occasioned.  But more:  I spent hours in my living room, crying over my sad life, with Little Girl’s head on my knee and her warm brown eyes studying my face.

Today my son made the brave choice to let go of our beloved Little Girl.  I haven’t stopped crying for more than a few minutes at a time all day.  We knew this would happen soon.  But we will both be in Missouri next week.  Another week, and one of us could have been there with her.

I trusted the vet’s advice and my son’s decision.  Her cancer, arthritis, and a ruptured disk all combined to put her in too much pain.  We tried to orchestrate it as well as we could, but in the end, she went quietly.  Our friends Chris Taggart and his mother Katrina stood in for us.  We consoled each other; they consoled us. Katrina had her hand on Little Girl’s soft head, petting her, comforting her.  They did the best they could for her, and so did we.

And she did her best for us.  From Sprinkles, the black-and-white cat, through Chocolate, our first dog; the boycats Tiger, Scruffy, Chief; and the stalwart Little Girl, we had some damn fine pets in our home.  We loved them well.

I will never forget the sight of my son carrying Little Girl down the street in his arms because she got tired on a walk.  Or when he taught her to sit, to “un-sit”; and to spin; and how we tricked her into running upstairs by saying, “Go see Patrick!”  But most of all, for the rest of my days, I will remember Little Girl going out of her mind berserk with glee the first time that Patrick came home from college and she realized that he had returned to her.  Her joy knew absolutely no bounds.

She was his dog; and he was her boy.  I owe her so much because she loved him without reservation.  If there is a heaven (and no, I don’t need a copy of “the Rainbow Bridge”, but thank you) and if dogs go to it, I hope she finds my mother and that the two of them go for long walks, keeping each other company for all eternity.

Rest in peace, Little Girl.  And thank you.

It’s the second day of the fifty-second month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues, albeit with a Beagle-Lab-mix-shaped hole in the universe, and a heaviness in my heart.

Portrait of Sprinkles and Little Girl by Patrick Corley

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