It Took Five Dogs But Eventually I Got The Message

Five dogs have now told me that I am
going to die. The first one lived
the longest. He was only fifteen pounds,

a beagle/dachshund mix, and little dogs
live longer than big dogs, but I was
too young to get any message on brevity,

anyway. I was more interested in the
battle between stubborn breeds and
stubborn me. The next, the first of

four chocolate labs was my life app-
roaching middle age dog; we romped to-
gether in the dunes and jogged the

streets; he fell paralyzing his back
legs and the day we had to put him
down he heard my voice entering the

vet’s and cried for me to help him
get back to the dunes. The next three
came from the humane society; third

was a flea-bitten, old geezer who
walked with dignity but never jogged.
We tent camped together rather than

backpack until the skin cancer went
to his brain just a year after we
got him. The fourth was only three

when we got him and full of life;
we jogged the trails and he wore us
out splashing in the Big Lake but

his throat froze and his panic almost
killed us; it was then I think I
really started to get the message.

The fifth, the sweetest of them all,
died of a belly full of cancer; he
hadn’t been abused in his former life

but neglected. He jogged with us only
for a short time when we discovered
he had just one good leg out of four.

Then he walked; then he hobbled, once
in a great while showing the puppy in
his heart by jumping around the great-

room tossing his soft, fabric baby
in his mouth into the air and giving
us a great laugh. I hobble now but

once in a while do a little dance
and play an air guitar to an Eagles’
tune in my head when my puppy
heart calls to me.

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