Monday, February 20, 2006

A Dog's Life

So I might be getting a dog again in about 6 weeks.

A friend's dog had puppies last Thursday, and now I am probably taking one of them.

My God, what am I thinking? I already have two cats. Just what I need, another animal.

But I love dogs. I mean, I really, really love dogs. I'm a dog person that just happens to have two cats.

It seems that all my animals I have had in my lifetime have picked me, including the cats.

I have had a dog since birth. My beloved yellow lab Ladybug was put to sleep a few years ago, and in a way cats are a lot easier for someone like me. Between working and commuting I'm gone a lot.

That evil voice in my head keeps telling me how Ladybug did just fine. Ladybug loved doggy-daycare. Ladybug lived better then most people's children.

It is actually a good idea for a single woman to have a big dog that will rip someone's head off if they break in the house, right? Yeah, that's another reason why I like having a dog.

That and dogs just love me. It can be the meanest, nastiest dog in the world, and it'll jump in my lap and lick me. I have that dog-and-small-children gene. They just instinctively trust me.

I mean, what's the big deal, it's only a dog, right? I always think of my very first dog Sam when people say that.

It's all my parental units fault. My Dad brought home my first dog when my mom was about 7 months pregnant with me. Sam, The Best! Dog! Ever!, was left for dead near the expressway, and my Dad came upon the small, freezing puppy on his way home from work.

She was a mixed terrier, white wired hair and fox from what my Dad could tell. He didn't have the heart to let the little puppy die, so he brought her home.

My Mother was not amused, pleased, or happy. My Father was given his orders to find a home for that damn dog ASAP.

Then I decided to make an early appearance into this world, and finding a home for the dog became the second priority. I was a preemie so I was in the hospital for an extra week, and during this time Sam managed to learn how to mind her manners and become potty trained.

Sam was here to stay. From that very first night I was home she slept under my crib. When I was old enough to move to a big girl bed she graduated from under the bed to sleeping right next to me.

Where ever I went the dog went. She walked me to the bus stop every morning, and was sitting there when I got off the bus in the afternoon. My Sister and Brother don't have such fond memories of Sam, as if they raised their voice to me all bets were off on their ankles were in big trouble.

She was my dog, for sure. When I was around 6 I was playing in my front yard and a Great Dane decided that I'd be a tasty little treat. Sam saved me. That 11 pound Terrier took down that 100 and some pound Great Dane like it was a rag doll. With the exception of a scar on my side, I came out unscathed. To this day my Mom says I would have died that day if it weren't for Sam.

So as I grew up Sam was there through all my changes, turmoils, problems, and happy days. She listened to my secrets and licked away my tears.

By the time I reached high school Sam wasn't as agile as she used to be. I'd have to help her up on the bed at night, and down in the morning. She patiently waited for me on the front porch instead of the bus stop now, but she was always there, watching for me to come home.

When I was a senior in high school Sam really began to slow down. Shortly after my 18th birthday we noticed a tumor growing on her side. We took her to the vet, who informed us that she had cancer. The most humane thing to do would be to put her to sleep. She wasn't in pain yet, so we could think about it for awhile.

We took Sam home and I was an absolute basket case. This was my dog!

So a couple of days later I come home from school and Sam is not on the porch. I run into the house screaming for my dog. My Mom, with her tear streaked face just hugs me and tells me that Sam is at the vet.

It seems that morning after I went to school Sam couldn't get up and began to whimper. My Mom had found her in the laundry room, and she was bleeding.

It was time.

My Mom took her to the vet, and the vet had agreed to wait to put her to sleep until I got home from school in case I wanted to say goodbye. I drove there in silent disbelief, as I was sure she'd be ok once I got there.

The vet warned me that she was heavily medicated and had lost a lot of blood. We went into the room and Sam layed there motionless, and I almost thought they had already put her to sleep and were humoring me.

I bent down and kissed her head and petted her for the last time. As tears rolled down my cheeks she opened her eyes and licked them away for the last time. Her little tail did a feeble wag, and the vet put her out of her misery as my Mom and I held her gingerly.

And she was gone. We burried her under her favorite tree. The next few weeks are a blur, and I'm quite sure I cried more tears in those two weeks then the rest of my life put together.

Only a dog? Sam was my best friend, my sister. She taught me about responsibility and unconditional love and loyalty. She taught me that you always protect your own, no matter what the cost to you.

Sam wasn't only a dog, Ladybug after her wasn't only a dog, and I'm sure this new puppy that will probably bound into my life won't be only a dog either.

They are family.

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