now your wife, is not a "dog
person" - still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her
affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the
human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated
by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too.
Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my
time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to
love them, but I became a "prisoner of love."
they began to grow, I became their
friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs,
poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on
my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch - because your
touch was now so infrequent - and I would have defended them with my
life if need be.
would sneak into their beds and
listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for
the sound of your car in the driveway. There had been a time, when
others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from
your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you
just answered "yes" and changed the subject. I had gone from being
"your dog" to "just a dog," and you resented every expenditure on my
you have a new career
opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an
apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision for
your "family," but there was a time when I was your only family.
was excited about the car ride
until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of
fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said "I know
you will find a good home for her." They shrugged and gave you a pained
look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one
with "papers." You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar
as he screamed "No, Daddy! Please don't let them take my dog!" And I
worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about
friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about
respect for all life. You gave me a goodbye pat on the head, avoided my
eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You
had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too.
you left, the two nice
ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and
made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads
and asked "How could you?"
are as attentive to us
here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of
course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone
passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you - that you had
changed your mind - that this was all a bad dream...or I hoped it would
at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I
realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy
puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and
heard her footsteps as she came for
me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a
separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and
rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in
anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief.
The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I was more
concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her,
and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.
gently placed a tourniquet around
my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same
way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the
hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid
coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind
eyes and murmured "How could you?"
because she understood my
dogspeak, she said "I'm so sorry." She hugged me, and hurriedly
explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I
wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself
- a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place.
And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump
of my tail that my "How could you?" was not directed at her. It was
you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of. I will think of you and wait
for you forever.
everyone in your life continue to
show you so much loyalty.
Copyright Jim Willis 2001-2011
Photos Copyright Save the Dalmatians and Others Canine Rescue 2001-2011