He was bringing his puppy to the vet’s for the dog’s first checkup. I was bringing my wife’s dog to be put down, although I didn’t yet know that. His dog was eight weeks old, mine was over 12 years old. I was impressed with the differences but cognizant of the similarities.
“Your dog is one of the greatest gifts in life,” I told the boy. “To have a good dog is a blessing for both of you.”
“I know, sir,” he assured me. “Is your dog sick?,” he asked.
“Terribly,” I responded. “Terribly.” In fact, the vet later used the word “grave,” a term which quickly took on a double meaning.
And so we changed the topic. I don’t know how we got there. Probably because I was so sad. We started talking about my own childhood.
“Times were hard,” I told him. “There was no cable TV, no video games, no interstate highways, no computers, no cell phones, no microwaves, no rock & roll. Jews played pro basketball and the only Hispanics who played major league baseball were four brothers named Alou. There were no drugs and we went to church about four times a week. We were forced to read books and play sports and hike in the woods. It was tough alright.”
“Wow,” was all the kid could say, glancing at his mother in amazement, like I was telling a tall tale.
“But we always had a dog,” I explained. “There was always a dog who never left our side.”
We put Dixie down this morning. Peggy held her as the morphine took away the pain. We were crying. The little dog was smiling. And snoring.
It’s so strange to sit in my recliner and watch ESPN with an empty lap. - JDW
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