I Loved My Dog
I loved my dog.
Her name was Cassie and she wasn’t friendly. She didn’t really like me that much. But that’s okay. I still loved her. Not long before what would have been her 16th birthday, my family put her to sleep. She had lost a lot of weight and appeared to be in constant pain. It has been several years now, but I can barely write this without feeling the rumbling, scratching, shaking feeling in my stomach. She may not have been affectionate, but she was mine. And I miss her very much.
Some dogs are friendly. Some dogs cuddle. But she didn’t do those things. A 45-pound mutt with a long nose, she was probably more like a cat. She did her own thing. And we didn’t bother her. Too much. Sometimes, when my sister and I were little, we would dress her up in crazy outfits. Cassie hated those outfits, she would growl menacingly and shimmy out of those clothes as fast as her little paws would let her. But she never bit us. I used to put my hand, or even my entire face, in her mouth. Because I trusted her.
I never walked her much. I was a kid and I was lazy, and she didn’t like me much anyway. My parents mostly walked her. But one time, in her last year or so, I took her for a walk. I was looking for a festival being held at a nearby Greek Orthodox church. I knew one of my co-workers at Rite Aid would be there. We walked and walked. I couldn’t find the place. Cassie did her best to keep up, but her legs were weak by then. When we finally found the place, it was empty. I had mixed up the day. We started to walk back. But Cassie kept sitting down. I tried to prod her on at first, then began miming as if I would drag her if she didn’t keep coming. This was my dog. The one who, as a young child I had wanted my parents to rename “Bullet.” She used to drag us. If we left the front door open, she would bolt. She was fast, and we wouldn’t catch up in a full sprint. Eventually a stranger would get her to calm down: “Hey this is Joe at the Dairy Barn,” we’d hear the voice on the phone. “This is some friendly dog you got here.”
But that day she wouldn’t budge. I would convince her to take a few steps, and she’d sit down again. Right there on the sidewalk. I gave up. I sat down with her. Cars would slow down, “are you okay?” they would ask, seemingly more out of obligation than any desire to assist. And we sat. I was so angry! “Why can’t we just walk home?!” I would scream at her. She just looked up at me, dumbfounded, as if to say “I’m old. Don’t you get it?” But I didn’t get it. This was the dog that used to run up the stairs, down the hall, up the hall, down the stairs, behind the couch (which was literally touching a wall. I still don’t know how she did it) and up the stairs again ten, eleven times in a row.
For those of you who saw “Marley and Me,” you know how the story goes. Or if you’ve read this far you’ve probably lost one of your own. The cold table at the vets office. The overdose of anesthesia. The uncontrollable sobbing. The “she’s-my-dog-it’s-not-fair-she’s-my-dog!”
I’m still not over it. We have her ashes in an tin in my dad’s room . But there’s no connection with ashes. I want my dog. And it’s not fair.
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