I had never really thought of my family's cocker spaniel as being anywhere near intelligent; I'd classify her as belonging to the "endlessly happy" category. No matter what the situation, she'd wander throughout the house and sniff for every loose crumb or scrap, even if there weren't any. I'd always joked that we should've named her "Hoover", since she was practically a living vacuum cleaner. We always used to call her either "Pup-Pup" or simply "Dog" (in the movie Big Jake, all John Wayne had to do was say "Dog" in order to get him moving; that's what motivated the nickname).
That was before. This is now.
She was troublesome, she was greedy, and she didn't care who knew it. She constantly tried to steal our cats' food, which resulted in the cats eating up on the kitchen counter. She used to run up and down the fence and drive the neighbor's dogs crazy, and then calmly stroll back to the house while everyone else was yapping. When she eventually became blind and deaf, that didn't stop her from seeking out nourishment like crazy (and causing our cats Sabrina and Drew no end of grief as she rammed into them but continued on and ignored their protests). In recent times, she would shove her food bowl around the floor to express her disgust at dinner. She loved being petted, even after arthritis began to get the best of her.
That was before.
Some of you are asking me: "Why are you getting nostalgic about an animal? Why am I reading this stupid editorial?" Listen very carefully: no matter how clueless or annoying I thought she was, she lent a touch of existence to my family's home. She made life what it was. She was a family member. I will no longer be able to look at the spots where her food dishes and bed once rested and not feel a tinge of grief. What saddens me the most is that she stayed happy throughout her 7 years of living with us---even up until the moment she was euthanized---never realizing that she didn't have long to live. An estimated 15 long years of life have finally come to an end.
This is now.
Go ahead. Tell me I'm wasting my time with this. Tell me I'm shedding tears over nothing. However, walk up to me and look me in the eyes when you say it, because I'm not going to take this any other way.
I once said in my high school newspaper: "Don't take their existence for granted". How true that is.
19??-February 2, 2004
Curtis R. Wildcat