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Country Talk Discussion Board

'How Could You '- a pet story

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Posted by Mark Willis on April 22, 2002 at 19:02:07 from (


HOW COULD YOU? By Jim Willis, 2001

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 and 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 in love. She, now
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've
defended them with my life if need be.

I would sneak nto their beds and listen to their
worries and secret
dreams, and 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

You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my
eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash
with you. You had a deadline tomeet 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 and 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 you?" 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.

And 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 directed at you, My
Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of
you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your
life continue to show you so much loyalty.

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