Only a Dog


John Wright


Tonight I decided to make a very tasty and unhealthy dinner for myself. Of all the possible choices I chose hot wings and fried potatoes. Zowie! What a load of fat and cholesterol! I happen to make dynamite hot wings, etc. And the cold Corona® beer simply makes the experience more memorable. Unfortunately, making things memorable was my undoing.

We recently lost our beloved dog, Nicky. He was only seven and one half years old and he developed a cancer that ended what was a wonderful life for him and for my wife and me Ö not to mention our cat. You see, Nicky and Speedy the cat showed great love for each other as well as for us. All of us remaining creatures are most sad, for we loved Nicky as he loved us Ö which is to say we couldnít imagine living without each other.

Sure, both guys slept with us in our bed every night. Often they groomed each other as part of the evening ritual. We all found our spots and kind of fit together as a really close family. I donít mean to say that it was always comfortable, but on the other hand it was always right. When we know we really belong life is good. So it was.

Well, now Nicky is no longer here. We have mourned him in a very normal way, and that means a terrible sense of loss early on followed by acceptance of an inevitability. But tonight was like reopening a deep wound. For all the years my wife spent away from us on business trips I always had the guys to keep me company. Nicky particularly enjoyed the nights I made hot wings and fried potatoes, for I was generous. My, was he attentive!

So, here I am, mired in warm memories with tears running down my face. Why is this so? After all, he was only a dog. Right? If you buy that drivel you donít understand love. Love spans species? Yes. And perhaps more important there is the self-serving aspect that we attach ourselves to what is by choice close to us and, whatever that happens to be, feelings run deep. Isnít that curious?

Somewhat more than two weeks have passed since we euthanized Nicky. I thought I was past the mourning. But here I am, tears and sadness. Grateful for the time we had together and full of sorrow that it had to end so soon. Just a simple irresponsible meal is all it took to bring everything to the surface and renew my grief. Memories can be hell. They can be great and be hell at the same time.

Okay, so what words of presumed wisdom do I have to pass along to you? In a word, none. I will simply say that I hope you have the joy of loving, whether the object of your love is a person or a pet Ö or whatever. And know that losing is inevitable until we conquer death and the disease and aging that precede most deaths. Does it make any sense to you that death is unnecessary? I hope so.