a little and a lot

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Dog's Tale

It was a pleasantly warm Saturday in May.  I was later told by my person-mom that it was Mother's Day weekend, but to me it was just a normal day, perfect for napping.

I was snoozing in my top crate in the kennel--I liked to lay curled in a "c" on my back in the newspaper shreds with my paws in the air.  I was dreaming of greyhound races of yore, in which I victoriously finished first--a blur of fawn-colored fur & black muzzle, pursuing that elusive mechanical rabbit.

A month earlier, I had bumped into another dog when vying for first place.  It wasn't the first time I'd gotten tangled up, but it was the last.  The run-in cost me the race and injured my leg.  I never walked without a limp again.  (My person-mom believed I was faking it so I wouldn't have to return to race life.  Was I?  I'll never tell.)

The door to the outside swung open, and in walked three women.  One was Jan, the kennel director--a burly, friendly woman with a booming voice.  The other two were visitors.  I was oblivious, dreaming my of my canine fame.

I simultaneously flipped over and awoke when Jan's voice thundered in my ear.  "This is Echo.  He's a sweet one.  Safe for small children & animals."  My crate door swung open & she let me hop down from it's stacked position over my bunkmate.  Ahhhh, that's more like it.  I stretched my legs, breathing in the new smells of the women standing nearby.

It was love at first smell.  I ran straight over to the woman with white hair.  "Hi!  I love you!  What's your name?  Where are your cats?" I said, in greeting.  She looked at the younger woman and laughed.  I looked at the younger woman, too.  She was bent down, inviting me to come see her.  I walked right over and gave her my friendliest "hello new best friend" smile.  She smelled like twin-sized sheets, thrift store tshirts, teenagers, & takeout.  Her eyes said "Yes."

My new person-mom looked at her own person-mom and said, "This is the one!"  My new person-grandma said, "I think so, too!"  They took me home in an SUV.  I rode in the back, while my person-mom held onto my collar.  I slobbered all over her arm and everything else--I was so nervousexcited.

We posed for a picture in the front lawn after she led me around to smell everything.  I was so giddy with joy that my tongue hung out sideways.  She led me inside the house--it was a ginormous one-bedroom duplex.  I had to climb these layered stones they called stairs.  Those were super weird.  Inside, the floors were all shiny and slippery--that was a new challenge.  But there was a fluffy bed for me in the corner with the name "Shadow" on it.  (Who is Shadow?  Can I use his bed?  Ok, thanks.)

That was the first day of the rest of my life.  The rest is history.

History includes living in that duplex (she called it "tiny"--was she crazy?!) for two more years as she took me on daily walks through our neighborhood.  I trained her to give me dog treats by lifting up my ears whenever she said "treat."  She showed me how to climb up on the couch, and I showed her how to relax as my pillow until I was ready to get up.

History includes the day my person-mom took me to the fenced in playground behind our house so I could run off-leash, and I spotted the most perfect catch.  A bird, unaware of my presence.  Instinct dognapped me and I just ran like the wind, 0 to 40 mph in seconds, jumping in mid-air to catch that bird with teeth.  It was the most glorious feeling, that catch.  I won...I WON!  I heard my person-mom cheering, and turned around with pure glee dancing in my eyes and a bird in my mouth.  Adrenaline was still pulsing through my eardrums, but she was waving her arms and putting her hands over her eyes and jumping up and down and yelling.  "Come here and let me hoist you upon my shoulders, you champion of a dog!"  Well, I couldn't hear what she was yelling, but I just know that's what it was.  I stopped, drinking in the smell of the moment.  I set the bird on the ground.  And I knew I would never need to run like that again for the rest of my life.

History includes the day my person-mom came home from work and flipped out for no apparent reason.  I mean, geez, I was just so thrilled to see her I had been helicoptering my tail in circles.  So what if I hit the armrest of the loveseat too hard and broke the end open?  So what if I had whipped blood stripes all across my side?  So what if I had continued helicoptering my tail in circles of excitement of hearing my best buddy's voice just outside the door while my tail continued to bleed like crazy?  It didn't hurt, I promise.  Not only did my person-mom freak, she immediately loaded me into the SUV and drove like a banshee to the vet, where they kept me overnight and threatened to amputate my tail!  Sheesh.  I would say I'd learned my lesson, but history includes the other four times I might have repeated that experience.

History includes the day that man came to visit and I got crazy jealous, making sure I cuddled up extra snuggly next to my person-mom when he was around.  Which was a lot, in increasing measures.

History includes the day we moved into the TWO-bedroom mansion.  (With double the space of slippery floors--when would that lady learn?!)  I got a whole room and a whole couch to myself...until that man that became my new person-dad and I had to share my dog-cave with him.  Actually I loved my new person-dad a lot.  He liked to sit on my dog-couch and watch football with me.  Let's be honest: if you were a person and I could smell that you had eaten peanut butter even once in your life, we were friends.

History includes the day they took me to the beach.  Wow, that was something.  I loved the smell of salt and seaweed.  I couldn't stop breathing in that sweet salty smell.  I loved the way my paws felt in the sand, and I even stuck my toes in the ocean.  I don't like baths, but that didn't count.  I was delirious with how wide open and beautiful-smelling it was.  On the way out of town, I stuck my head out the window for one last whiff.

History includes the day that other younger dog started staying in our backyard.  And then they brought him into the house and that was that.  I had a dog brother.  I tolerated him--he was pretty high energy and loud and bad-mannered.  (He sat by the table anytime my person-mom & person-dad ate--what were they going to do?  Feed him person-food?  HA!)  After awhile, I grew to like him too--he liked to chill on our dog couch AND he liked peanut butter, after all.

History includes the day they moved everything out of our dog cave and put in a small, caged bed.  It just sat there, empty, for months.  Then, they skipped town for weeks.  Good grief--I started to wonder if they were going to come back to get me!  Finally, they picked us up from the vet and brought us back home.  The house smelled funny--I couldn't put my paw on what exactly was going on.  I laid down for a nice loooong nap.  The next thing I knew, my person-parents were carrying this small little-girl-person in the room.  She went ballistic.  She refused to walk on the floor when we were in the room.  (Snob.)  She warmed up to us after we let her have ample portions of our water and food.  And she liked peanut butter.

I lived a great, long life.  My joints got achy, but I could still walk.  My hair grew soft and fluffy and floaty.  My black muzzle went all white.  My super-toned muscles became soft and weak, and my person-parents had to carry me up and down the outside steps.  I loved my life and my people and my red blanket.  I couldn't hear anymore, but who cared?  My dog-brother and kid-sister were always barking and yelling around me anyways.  (I did have the habit of startling awake and flipping up to my feet for no apparent reason other than a hunch that someone may be about to step on me.  Could you blame me?)

History includes the day I woke up like any other day.  My person-dad fed me breakfast, which I swallowed whole (I had been toothless for years).  I poked around in the recycling bin for the first time in a good long while.  It felt good to smell all that spoiled almond milk and dried black bean syrup.  I had been outside for so long without asking to come back in that my person-mom poked her head out the door and caught me.  She went easy on me, playfully calling out with a smile, "You are my hero!"  (Well, I couldn't hear.  But I'm pretty sure that's what I read her lips saying.)  I settled down for a snooze while my person-sister took her nap, too.  My person-mom gave me a quick pet and whispered in my ear, "I love you.  You're my best friend, Owens," like she always did when she was tucking me in.  I could hear that because she said it almost every day for a decade.

They tell me that I lost control of my mind and muscles that afternoon.  I have vague memories of my mom whispering in my ear, of my dad cradling me into the vet, of my mom rushing in and scratching behind my ears in that special place she could always find.  I saw my entire fourteen and a half years of dog life.  101 person years.  My history.

That moment when I looked into her eyes and knew she was my history.  That was the best part.
Owens Faris ("D's Echo") 1999-2013
Other pictures can be found here

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh jesse...I'm so sorry for your loss. Owens was such a sweet dog. What a sweet tribute to him.

Tiffany Norris said...

I'm so sorry for your loss! This is such a sweet way to remember him.

Leslie J said...

What an amazing tribute. In awe of you, and also so sad for your loss. He was such a sweet dog.

Kristy said...

I just saw this post. Love you, friend.


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