Tuesday, November 18, 2014

All She Wanted Was to Be a Baby

I don't know the details. My son was living in Clarksdale, Mississippi at the time and was friends with some people who rescued dogs. Jeff, our weeny dog, comes from that time as does Lucky our outside dog.

She was a pit mix, Lucky, rescued from a dog fighting ring. That's what I was told and that is about all I know. She had terrible scars from being used as a bait dog, to train the fighters, and she came to our house to stay while her adoptive family got things worked out. That was ten or twelve years ago. For some reason I can't remember, the family we were keeping her for decided they didn't want her. My wife did.

To be honest, I didn't really want her either. She was a big dog and big dogs crap big and big dogs dig big holes in the yard. That aggravates me bigly. But I agreed to having her because my wife fell for her. I did too, it just took a little longer for me.

I quickly became used to her and she was a fixture in our back yard. Like all dogs I have known, she didn't want much. She just wanted a little attention, and she wanted it all the time. What she yearned  for most, however, was to be a baby, to climb up in my or my wife's lap and be held. Sometimes I sat in a chair in the back yard and let her climb aboard. It was most uncomfortable for me, but she enjoyed it so I endured it.

Like a pit, she didn't bark much and when she did she was either looking at something or I was in the front mowing the grass. That drove her crazy, me mowing the front lawn. She wanted to be out there with me and she would stick her head under the wooden fence and woof and woof and woof until I around to the back, into her part of the yard.

She was always happy when I was in the back yard. She would run and jump and bark at anything that moved then cut a glance at me to see if I was watching. We had a pear tree in the back and she guarded that tree and made sure I knew it always running up to that tree and looking up it then back at me as if to say, "See, I'm on the job. No squirrels will eat pairs without being barked at."

She spent her entire life in that yard but that didn't stop her from having a litter of puppies. A neighbor had a lab who could climb fences, and he climbed ours one night when she was in season. We kept one of the pups who grew to be a huge lab who died last January. She seemed lonesome without him, and I tried to spend more time with her. All she wanted was to be a baby.

She and her son, Jake, escaped the confines of the yard a few times and that caused some conflict with someone living nearby. All they did was run and ramble and they would return on their own if you gave them thirty minutes. But once, one of my "neighbors" called the police and cause quite a stink about our "dangerous dogs." All Lucky wanted was to run around and be a baby.

I had to take off work. I had to go to court. That was just one in a long series of troubles with some problems makers whom our lawyer and the police both told us "Don't even acknowledge their presence." I really don't like living that way. We have been in the same house for thirty-seven years and never had trouble with anyone except these people. They always hated our dogs and described them as "viscous" and "dangerous." All Lucky wanted, however, was to be a lap baby.

A few weeks back Penny told me, "Something is wrong with Lucky." She stopped eating. She was just lying around. I took her to the vet. Cancer. Wow. She took medicine and rebounded a bit. But her rebound was short lived. Yesterday I went out back to lift weights. She loved it when I lifted weights because I was with her. She was lying in the yard shivering from the cold. I tried to get her up only to discover she couldn't walk. I picked her up and carried her inside and put her on the back porch where the cats sleep at night. There I put one of my wool sweaters under her head and covered her with blankets. I lay beside her on the floor and wept. I felt her nose touch me. I think she was trying to comfort me. All she ever wanted was to be a baby.

Then the guilt started. I felt guilty for not taking her to the vet right then. But I knew how guilty I would feel if I didn't let my wife say goodbye. I said I would take her in the morning before work. But when the morning came, I knew I couldn't do that and work also. "I'll do it after lunch," I told Penny. And I called the vet from school and made an appointment.
Lucky, shortly after being diagnosed.

I didn't seem right to take her to her death. I didn't seem right to let her suffer. It just didn't seem right. None of it. Death doesn't seem right. It seems all wrong. She didn't deserve this. She was always just a sweet dog who wanted to be a baby.

Putting her in the truck and driving her to the vet was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I cried a bucketful. Andy Johnson came into the waiting room and asked me where I wanted to do it. Not wanting to move her and unable to speak, I pointed towards the truck.

When Andy put the needle in, she wagged her tail. She just wanted to be a baby and he was giving her some attention. I held her head while she lay on the front seat. She relaxed and went to sleep. Then her suffering was over.

We, Lucky and I, drove to Carroll County, and I dug a hole in the woods by the little pond where I buried Missy a few years back. There are lots of trees and squirrels there. I wrapped her in the blanket she slept under last night and after covering her I made her a headstone out of a concrete pad I brought with us from town. I cried one last time and drove away.

I miss you, Lucky. You were a good dog, and you will always be my baby.