A Tribute to My Dog
6 May, 2008
He was just a raggedy old yellow and white dog. Not a pure breed and certainly nothing special to look at but I loved him with all my heart. I guess technically you could say he was Paul's dog but he and I developed a strong, unbreakable bond from the many hours we spent together at home. He would watch me intently as I went about my house or yard work all the while seeming to understand anything that I said to him whether it be an off-the-wall comment about the changing Texas weather or to remind him that the Spurs were coming on that night and that he and I would be having our usual date together in the maroon chair to watch the game. His whole life was lived within a 60 x 50 foot backyard and inside an 1100 square foot house. Nothing gave him more pleasure than to lay quietly at my feet wherever I happened to be within his small little kingdom. He usually didn't have to look very hard to find me but if he didn't see me he would go sit by the front door or on the top step closest to the back door waiting for me to come back home to love him. Time meant nothing to him. He would have waited hours or even days. His eyes would light up while his pointed little ears would twitch at even the slightest sound that it might be me coming home to see him.
He didn't know any dog tricks, wouldn't chase a ball, and probably would have whole-heartedly greeted a burglar-in-the-act with a wagging tail. Any other animal or human was immediately his friend; he unabashedly liked everyone but he saved his everlasting love and adoration for Paul and me. He suffered through dog costumes for Halloween, would have ate a rock if I had hand-fed it to him, and patiently tolerated having his dog treats stolen out from under his nose by his cunning and wily younger "sister." He even liked eating cherry tomatoes because he saw me eat them. He was that kind of dog.
In mid-December of his 15th year, he developed a cancerous tumor on the side of his sweet face. It grew at an alarming rate; he was given 2 weeks to live. The 2 weeks came and went. Then a month. Two months. Three months went by. His left eye became almost completely swollen shut because of the massive growth and he was near deaf, but as long as he had the other eye to watch or follow behind me, he was happy. He lost weight and eating became difficult because of the tumor that had now grown inside his mouth. Everyday could have been his last day... but it wasn't. As long as he thought he was needed and wanted, he wanted to be here. His pace became slower and more laborious, his breathing became more shallow, and his bones almost seemed like they were going to poke through his skin at times... but his tail continued to wag. He kept his one good eye on the prize. And that prize was the honor of being able to sit quietly at my feet or lean against me as we watched TV. There was no greater privilege that I could give him.
For five months and through it all, that brave little dog hung on until his frail body just said "enough." Last night we had to let him go. It was time. I wish I could say that I was the brave one; that there wasn't 100 times today that I didn't second-guess that decision. But I can't. No single decision that I've ever had to make has been as emotionally draining or as agonizing.
Suddenly this little house seems a lot bigger without him. And much too quiet. He was my constant companion, my closest listener, and my adored friend. Throughout his life and up until the very end, I took care of him as best that I could but if the truth be known, he took better care of me.
I'll miss him terribly.