You all know what a sucker I am for a good dog and I know that most of the people who read my blog do not subscribe to the Vancouver Sun newspaper. But Pete McMartin, a regular columnist, has the BEST story today and I would like to share it with you all. I am copying it verbatim, so please realise that it is not my writing, but McMartin's. Also, he doesn't say, but I am guessing it might have been his family dog. The one at the right is not the dog he's writing about, but it gives you a visual while reading. Be sure to have some kleenex or tissues handy.
Pete McMartin, Vancouver Sun
Published: Thursday, April 24, 2008
It was the habit of the dog to sit on the back of the couch near the living room window and watch for the woman
The dog, a fox terrier, would sit there while the woman was at work, and when the woman would pull into the driveway in the late afternoon, the dog would see her and raise her head and something like a smile would come over the dog's face, if a dog could smile.
The dog would jump off the couch and run to the front door, and when the woman opened the door, the dog would be the first thing the woman saw when she walked into the house.
The woman would bend to the dog and ask her how she was, and the dog would spin in circles as the woman petted her, and then the dog would sing the way dogs do and tell her how mournful her day had been without her.
Then the woman would put down her purse and go upstairs to her bedroom to change out of her work clothes, and the dog would follow her, and from that moment forward, when the woman made dinner in the kitchen, when she sat on the couch and watched TV, when she went to bed and read before going to sleep, she and the dog would be nearly inseparable, each moving in each other's orbit.
When the woman turned off the bedroom lights, the dog would be laying at the foot of the bed, with her head resting against the woman's feet, as if even in sleep they might be connected.
There were other people in the house -- a husband, a daughter, two grown sons living nearby -- but the dog largely ignored them. She had been bought as a birthday gift for the daughter when the dog was a puppy, but the puppy's novelty soon wore off and it was the woman who ended up feeding the dog and taking her on walks and cleaning up after her when she shat on the carpets.
The woman was not a dog person by nature -- she laughed at people who bought clothes for their dogs or who baby-talked to them -- but she became by default the dog's sole guardian. It wasn't a job she had wanted.
Over the years, their routines became a fixture of the house. When the woman took a shower, the dog would wait patiently outside in the hall for her.
When the family went somewhere in the car, the dog would sit nowhere else but on the woman's lap, her eyes closed, her muzzle resting on the dashboard.
On walks to the beach, the woman would throw stones into the water and the dog would dive in after them, her stubby tail wagging back and forth in the water like a propeller. One year, when the woman grew gravely ill and was confined to her bed for weeks, the dog never left her side.
But dogs live abbreviated lives, and as she aged, she developed an ailment that would revisit her every couple of years. A few weeks ago, the dog began to slow down visibly, and the woman, thinking the ailment had returned, took the dog to the veterinarian.
On the first day of her stay at the vet hospital, the dog improved, and the woman was hopeful. But on the second, the vet called her at work and told her the dog had begun to bleed internally and that she was failing.
The woman left work and hurried to the vet's. She sobbed in the car on the way. At the vet's, the dog had been sedated for pain and covered with blankets for warmth, and when the woman got there, she found the dog had been put in a small room where the two of them could be together. The dog's eyes were still open, but because of the sedation the woman could not tell if the dog could hear her or see her.
The woman stroked the dog's matted fur. She bent her face to the dog's. She spoke to her. Her tears fell on the dog's nose and on the dog's tongue.
After a few minutes, the dog whimpered and arched her back, and the woman cried out that she didn't want to see her in pain and the vet was summoned and the vet gave the dog the shot. And then came that thing that never ceases to amaze, the end, the complete stillness, the absence of the vivid, animated thing that once was.
Later, the vet said that if the woman wanted, the hospital could have the dog cremated and the ashes placed in an urn with the dog's name on it. The woman, through her tears, said yes. But the woman was not a dog person, and not one for anthropomorphizing a family pet, and after a few minutes she thought the idea of an urn was macabre, so she said no, give her the ashes in a bag. She would scatter them on the water where the dog would swim for stones.
Later, angry at herself that she was still crying, she would say -- "It's just a dog!" -- because she was not a dog person. Probably, she knew, there would be other dogs in the future.
And on the way home from the vet's, she knew she would have to relearn certain things in her life. How to cook in the kitchen without the dog watching her. How to sleep without the weight of its body at her feet. How to walk on the beach. All this she dreaded.
But what she dreaded most was having to go through that front door.
- Delta, British Columbia, Canada
- I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.