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 belly rub.
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 day.
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 then 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 love.” 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’ve 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 good-bye 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 mood. 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 dog speak, 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 directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.
A note from the author: Please remember that the decision to add a pet to the family is for life, and if circumstances dictate that you must give up your pet, finding a loving home for your animal is YOUR responsibility. Above all, please do your part to stop the killing — have your pets spayed or neutered.
Please come meet these and all the other wonderful pets waiting for new homes at the Humane Society of Central Arizona animal shelter, 812 S. McLane Road.
Buddie is an 8-month-old Shepherd/Collie mix. He was brought in to us because his family had an emergency and is no longer able to care for him. He is one of the sweetest and most adorable dogs you’ll ever meet. He walks well on a leash, is potty trained and gets along with other dogs and kids. He has been neutered and is current on all shots. Buddie is a great dog and is in need of a great home.
Abby is a 1-year-old Irish Wolfhound/Black Mouth Cur mix. She has been adopted out and returned more than once, not because of any behavior problems, but because, for various reasons, she just wasn’t a good match with previous adopters. She is housebroken and leash trained and obeys commands very well. She has so many positive qualities, like the fact that she loves children and is very friendly with cats and other dogs. Please give Abby a chance. This time she needs to be adopted into her forever home.
Stiffler is a 6-month-old Shar-Pei. He was turned over because he was getting bigger than what the people had expected, and they couldn’t care for him. He has the cutest face and a sweet personality. He is very active and outgoing. He will need a big yard and would do great in a home with other dogs that would play with him and keep him active. He has been here with us since he was just 3 months old.
C.C. is a 9-month-old Labrador/Pit mix. She is part of the litter that was purposely bred because people were curious to know what lab/pit puppies would look like. She, like all of her siblings, is very sweet and outgoing. She loves to play and gets along great with the other dogs. She can be easygoing and will sit beside you in the car, or lie next to you on the couch, with her head in your lap. She is very intelligent, walks on a leash and is potty trained. She does great with kids and will make a wonderful addition to someone’s family.
Dusty is a 4-year-old Aussie mix. He and his friend Cooper were turned over by their owner because they were moving and couldn’t take the dogs along. Dusty is housebroken, leash trained and rides well in the car. He gets along great with other dogs and does wonderful with kids and adults. Dusty would be ideal for a semi-active household; one that hikes or even takes walks daily. He is neutered and is current on his shots.
Cooper is a 6-year-old Lab/Chow mix. He was turned over by his owner, along with his buddy Dusty. Cooper is neutered and is current on his shots. Cooper is a sweet boy with an outstanding personality. He gets along with children and other dogs. He is very well behaved and knows his basic commands. He walks like a gentleman on lead and rides well in the car.
Glorie is a 1-year-old Border Collie mix. She was turned over by her owner because she jumps up. This is something that a little bit of training can easily fix. She is outgoing and playful and gets along with other dogs. She has a lot of energy and would do best in an active household. She is spayed and current on shots. Glorie is a sweet gal who is ready to find her forever home.