Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Diary of a Dog

"Diary of a Dog"

This story begins circa mid to lower 1990's. This is how I see it all happening, despite the fact that I really don't know the very beginning of it all. She was a small mut of a puppy, who had a little bit of Beagle in her. Her master was a man. This man almost always wore a hat and he often had a problem controlling his temper. He would get angry about all kinds of different things and when this little puppy looked up at him she thought to herself: "Oh no, here he comes again." Looking straight at him and knowing what was coming next, all she could see was the man's hat. He would beat her and she would yelp and run inside the confines of the gated yard that was her world. She was faster than he, but he could corner her and take his unhappiness out in a brutal way. This went on for about a year, but for this 1 1/2 year old puppy it felt like a decade. If only she could get her freedom.

Mr. Brutal wasn't the brightest light bulb in the pack. Due to his tendencies toward violence, he didn't really have any friends or family. One day after Mr. Brutal came home from a hard days work, he realized that the next day the garbage men were scheduled to come by early. THIS, is what turned this little puppy's life around. While Mr. Brutal did remember garbage day and proceeded to take out the trash, he was so tired he forgot to close the gate.

Once the puppy realized there was a chance to escape, she took a leap of faith and ran out of the gate. It was especially scary for her because it was dark outside and she had never been out like this on her own. The world scared her. There were cars driving by, people talking and looking at her, and even from time to time people feeding her. This place was B I G. She instinctively made her way to the streets of Stafford, Texas. After a week of sheer survival, she was weary and just had to stop on the side of the road. Two people came by and looked at the pup, but moved on. Then, a good Samaritan picked her up and dropped her off at the SPCA.

Somewhere around the pups 2nd birthday a young married couple drove the approximately 50 minute trek from the Woodlands, Texas across the city of Houston to try and pick out a dog from the SPCA. The couple looked all through the available dogs and finally, the man suggested a Beagle mix that he thought met the requirements. After playing with the dog for a few minutes, the pups shyness, fright of men, and friendliness was evident. So, the couple thought about it and the man gave it a thumbs up. The young lady however, was not certain. As per a family policy that the couple had that they still adhere to today, (all big decisions made by this couple had to be unanimous) they left the SPCA that day without a dog. The couple went home and talked about the one dog they considered and the man argued the merits of adopting this dog. Still, the lady seemed unsure.

The next day while the lady was attending to other matters, the man slipped away and made the 50 minute drive right back to the SPCA. He went back to that same pup and pondered adopting the dog. He considered the fact that if he adopted the dog, he would have to be willing to give the dog up as this was a violation of the couples’ aforementioned policy on big decisions. The man thought for a moment and decided to adopt the dog. He drove the 50 miles home hoping that surprising his wife and having her see the dog again, she would be onboard. On this particular occasion, it worked out well for the man. When the woman arrived home, it was like she had met a whole new dog and was thrilled that the man went back and selected her. The dog was dubbed Carly, for no other reason than the man sat near someone at work that shared the same name. Although Carly was certainly housetrained, there were some mishaps along the way. The couple deduced from her behavior that she had very likely been abused by a man in a hat. It was their goal to rid her of her fears. She needed to know that when she was in OUR home, she always had a soft place to fall. She improved over the years, but I don’t think ever fully healed from the cruelty inflicted upon her. To the day of her death she had a tendency to cower if a man she wasn’t familiar with approached her. One problematic, but memorable moment occurred inside the couple’s apartment. The man had arranged for a friend to come over and they were going to play tennis at the apartment complex’s court. The man’s friend happened to be a big and husky guy. When the man’s friend arrived and went toward Carly to administer some pets, she ran onto the couch and proceeded to “soil” it in fear.

Carly was a valued member of the family as they hit many milestones in their lives. She was there when they bought their first house. She was there when the couple had their first child. She was there when they bought their next house. She was there when the man suffered through a serious illness. She was there when the lady went through some difficult times. She was there when they decided to move to live near family. Finally, she was there when the couples 2nd child was born.

It was right before the birth of the couples 2nd child though, that a severe decline in health seemed to become very obvious and sudden. In retrospect, the couple was probably distracted by the upcoming birth of their child and the business of life in general. Regrettably, the couple likely let the dog live too long and thereby, suffer. There were however, many considerations when determining to make the inevitably difficult decision of determining the death of their dog. Those aren’t excuses, but they are the facts. Making the decision for the man and his wife seemed to come quickly and easily. Their primary concern was how their 10 year old daughter would react. This is where the wife came through as she’s apt to do, and made a very wise decision. She elected to take the couple’s daughter with her for the “quality of life exam” as the man had referred to it. The couple was lucky in that the vet they took the dog to had just a couple months earlier put the man’s sister’s dog down as well. The vet, who had the name “Dr. Condolence” (not really, but it was an eerie last name and privacy must be protected), was exceptionally sympathetic and did an outstanding job of explaining to the 10 year old girl why it was time for the “dog to go to heaven.” The couple wanted to give their daughter some time to say good-bye. So, the euthanasia was put off until the day after Thanksgiving (4 days away). The man was surprised that he didn’t seem very affected by the decision that had just been made. Then, came the day after Thanksgiving......

Friday November 25, 2011, started off in what seemed a very odd way. The man woke up, got some work clothes on, and grabbed his shovel from the garage. The decision had already been made. The thought of Carly being incinerated horrified the couples ten your old daughter. The family was going to bury their beloved dog Carly in their backyard. The "site" was selected for viewing convenience so that it may be randomly checked for any disturbances from inside the house. The man knew from having done a substantial amount of planting that the surface in Central Texas was going to put up a big fight. He allotted 2 hours for digging the grave and it took all of that and a bit more. The 10 year old daughter helped the father as the persistent digging was an arduous task to say the least. Still, as they worked to reach their goal, neither the man, nor his daughter showed any emotion. After accomplishing their goal and the man getting a much needed shower, it was time for what the man later thought to himself of as “the drive to death.” The lady and her child specified that they did not want to go to the vet’s. The man picked up Carly, who was gently wrapped in a towel and placed her in the backseat. It was time for the lady and the daughter to say their good-byes. Both the lady and the daughter immediately began to sob, which in turn caused the tears to run rapidly down the man’s face. The lady and the daughter turned and walked back inside.

The man began “the drive towards death.” The man knew he only had a few minutes to think before reaching the Vet’s office. He continued to weep silently and made it to his destination in about 7 minutes. Upon entering with Carly, the man only stood for about 3 seconds when a “nurse” said, “I’m so sorry to keep you waiting. Come right in here. The Dr. will be right in.” The man put the towel on the floor and placed his dog on it and laid down next to her. At that moment the man thought to himself; “You waited too long.” The Dr. came in and asked if he needed more time. “No.”, said the man. The doctor explained the process and took Carly to get some sort of catheter so she would not have to feel the pain of a missed vein when injecting the needle. When the Dr. returned with Carly, she asked him again. “Would you like some more time with her?” “No.”, said the man. The Dr. injected the needle and it was over in about 15 seconds. She checked Carly’s heartbeat and simply said, “She’s gone.” The weeping continued, but only in silence. The man was instructed to move his car to a back door with some privacy and Carly was delivered to his car well wrapped and ready for burial. The man thought about stopping and thinking, but quickly decided to just drive straight home. When the man arrived at home with Carly’s body, his daughter and wife were waiting. Upon entering the house, the three of them all looked at each other and wept, this time out loud. It lasted but a few short seconds, and then the lady said, “Go ahead and put her back there and then come on back in.” The family’s first experience with putting a pet down was over. The man thought for a moment about the irony of having to put the dog down, just three weeks and one day after his wife gave birth to his son.


sandi said...

Amazing post.

Carter said...

Well written post. It makes me miss Carly for this couple and their daughter. I suspect that this family was as lucky to have had Carly in their lives as Carly was to have had them in hers.

LaDawn said...

A beautiful tribute. Blessings to all.

ac2483 said...

A wonderfully written story that I was not quite ready for (emotionally that is) but still loved nonetheless. My heart aches for the family and their beloved Carly. I echo LaDawn's words when I say that this was a beautiful tribute.

~ gina ~ said...

A beautiful, moving tribute to the love & dedication a family can have to their beloved pet and how deeply their lives have been touched by this precious little creature. I felt the emotion as if it were my own. Very well written.

Anonymous said...

Too real....makes me dread the day I will have to do the would be easy to see the circle of life represented here, but the cycle comes with great emotion....

Anonymous said...

The author has done a couple of interesting things here: 1) he shifts perspective from "the puppy" to "the man" as the story progresses. I'm not sure I've seen this done before and find it well-suited to the relationship that develops between dogs and people. Dogs are so entirely selfless when it comes to their "people" that they would probably tell this story the same way!
2) There's a detachment, almost a bleakness, in the description of events (and the lack of personal names used for the people) that captures perfectly the "numbness" that one can feel after going through something like this. This is not a treacly tribute--while I enjoy heartwarming stories about relationships with our pets as much as the next person, this struck me as a very honest "tell."

My general comments are:
1) I liked the imaginative beginning. Sometimes it's hard to imagine the trauma that our beloved rescues have endured in their lives before us. Then again, it makes us more determined to make up for it as long as they're with us. :)
2) I really, really hope the author doesn't feel too guilty about the amount of time he waited before letting Carly go. I'd bet anything that SHE didn't feel a shred of resentment about it.
3) Finally, I appreciated the ending. The man is considering the irony of the episodes of birth and death occurring so close together in his home, but his family is still inside, waiting for him. I'm still not sure how to vocalize why I liked this, even after thinking about it for a bit--but I do!

Kathryn said...

I finally gathered enough will to read your story. I have to admit that I skimmed as fast as I could through the last part. Your family and Carly were lucky to have each other. I did not know that your daughter is 10, my son is also 10! He wept for a few hours and then he comforted me, he still does when I have my moments. I hope Carly and Lucy have found each other in their heaven.