He was my shadow, and as inseparable as we were, when he was alive, some ten years ago, we still remain so to this day, well, so-to-speak.
I know, I know, all that needs to be done, all I have to do is toss his beloved ball; that looks nothing like the tennis ball it used to. Now it resembles a sagging ball of badly decayed fruit. It’s lost it's fresh rubbery smell to the ages, and it's bounce to the times - but toss it in the trash – not me, no way, never.
Bentley catches a Mouser
Right after I took him to the vet for the last time I couldn't look at it. In my head I could see it. But after a few months my eyes gradually made it back to the ball on my shelf, on the little stand uncle Mike made for it soon after Baron died. He knew how much the ball meant to me. The gold stand made it look like what it was, at least to me; a relic. In a bitter sweet way I've enjoyed watching it change colors, loose it's air and go through it's transformation from age, it’s rotting. Just one look at the old ball and I'm overtaken by all the precious memories I have of Baron. The long treks we took at Stone Mountain Park. The swims we had together at Indian Island. It's the last thing I own of his, his collar and leash stayed at the vet. I whip myself for forgetting it there, and wished I could have buried him in the back yard; but my family and I were so distraught. He was a family member. He wasn’t a dog, He was Baron.
And, to let you in on a secret, without the ball there, he probably won't visit me at night, like he does, once or twice a month.
Granted, tossing it would make it allot easier on my new "fur-face" friend, as I call him; that is beside me now. I've seen him, Bentley, my new shadow, eye the ball whenever he enters my room. At first I thought he was looking at it as a bit of food; as what it appears to have turned into. As if the ball has evolved into what it looks like on my book shelf; food, and gave off a smell accordingly, catching his curious nose and enticing his endless hunger. If I took it off the stand and put it on the floor he'd probably roll on it instead of eating it like he does with anything rotten.
But I don't think so. He would most likely whimper and run to the basement and hide. Bentley knows full well what it is. The ages have done nothing to fool his highly tuned nose, and, as it seems, he knows exactly who it belonged to as well. After all these years there surly must be some remnants of Baron's sense still left on it to alert him.
You see, not only won't he sleep beside my bed at night, but Bentley will not, under any circumstances, play ball, with any ball or anything resembling a ball. He will not even fetch a walnut that falls from the trees in our back yard. Or will he return a thrown stick, or a toy, or the white leather bones he has; that are, without question, only for chewing; not for fetching. This ball, like other balls, are his enemy.
As you might be thinking; no he did not have a bad experience with a ball, or a bad experience with any of these items, in his puppy-hood. He was, and is never teased, treated wrongly or 'whooped' when he misbehaves. There is only one reason, that I can see, for his strange antics, and that is Baron's ball. This ball is his only bad "ball experience," his singular circular nightmare that he just can't shake off. And there are other happenings in my room that certainly don't help our 'mans best friend' relationship, at all. And I don’t blame him. Sweet guy.
There are thumps in my room at night, sounding like a dog laying down, and the jarring of my bed, like a dog brushing against it - all like Baron used to do. And it isn’t Bentley, he sleeps down stairs in the kitchen. It's no wonder Bentley has such a struggle to be, and act like a normal dog. Not only is he bothered by the ball he’s frightened by the ghost of the dog who used to own the ball.
Maybe I should pick up the ball, off my shelf and toss it one last time, if it doesn't fall apart in my hands. Only this toss won't be in the garbage. Can't do that, rather I could toss it to an open field or pond; that would be more palatable to me. With this final toss of his ball, however, Baron's ghost may not return. He'll leave my side forever; where's he's been faithful all these years, even after death, beyond the call of duty. I'm just not sure if I'm ready yet. It’s pretty cool having a dog ghost. But I know it isn’t fare.
Bentley is here now, in the flesh, and always ready and eager to take his rightful place beside me, totally. God love him; he must feel as though he is competing for my attention, affection and love; with a dead dog and his old ball.
Oh, maybe I should just toss the ball. I'll let you know.
You'll love this story:
In 1924, Hachikō was brought to Tokyo by his owner, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo. During his owner's life Hachikō saw him off from the front door and greeted him at the end of the day at the nearby Shibuya Station. The pair continued their daily routine until May 1925, when Professor Ueno did not return on the usual train one evening. The professor had suffered a stroke at the university that day. He died and never returned to the train station where his friend was waiting.
Hachikō was given away after his master's death, but he routinely escaped, showing up again and again at his old home. Eventually, Hachikō apparently realized that Professor Ueno no longer lived at the house. So he went to look for his master at the train station where he had accompanied him so many times before. Each day, Hachikō waited for Professor Ueno to return. And each day he did not see his friend among the commuters at the station.
The permanent fixture at the train station that was Hachikō attracted the attention of other commuters. Many of the people who frequented the Shibuya train station had seen Hachikō and Professor Ueno together each day. They brought Hachikō treats and food to nourish him during his wait.
This continued for 10 years, with Hachikō appearing only in the evening time, precisely when the train was due at the station.
Hachikō died on March 8, 1935. He was found at the train station, at the same spot he has waited for his master all thos years. His stuffed and mounted remains are kept at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo.