[gardeners] For you dog lovers "How could you"

byron bromley (gardeners@globalgarden.com)
Tue, 13 Feb 2001 15:22:20 -0500

Had to pass this on

"How Could You?"

Copyright Jim Willis 2001


When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh.

You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a

couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I

was "bad," you'd shake your finger at me and ask "How could you?" - but

then you'd relent, and roll me over for a bellyrub.

My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were

terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights

of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret

dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went

for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I

only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs," you said), and I

took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the


Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and

more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently,

comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you

about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when

you fell in love.

She, 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


As 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.

I 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 behalf.

Now, 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.

I 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.

After 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?"

They 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 waited.

I 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


She 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?"

Perhaps 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.

May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.