When I was a puppy I entertained you with my antics and
made you laugh. You called me your child and despite a number
of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows,
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, listening
to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that
life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks
and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I
only got the cone because `ice cream is bad for dogs,' you
said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to
come home at the end of the day.
Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your
career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited
for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and
disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and
romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell
She, now your wife, is not a `dog person' - still I welcomed
her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed
her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the human
babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated
by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother
them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them,
and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or
to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became
a `prisoner of love.'
As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung
to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked
fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears and gave me kisses
on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch
- because your touch was now so infrequent - and I would
have defended them with my life if need be.
I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries
and secret dreams. Together we waited for the sound of your
car in the driveway. 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 years, 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 have a new career opportunity in another city, and
you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not
allow pets. You've made the right decision for your `family,'
but there was a time when I was your only family.
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 her.' 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 knew
about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt
to find me another good home. 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 for attention of happy puppies, oblivious
to their own fate, 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,
rubbed my ears and 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. I licked her hand in the same way I
used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly 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
Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, 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. 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 Master,
I was thinking of. I will think of you and wait for you
May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.
Copyright Jim Willis 2001 email@example.com