Sunday, November 05, 2006


It's increasingly difficult to recall that childfree time in our lives when our most pressing weekend goal was to read the Sunday Trib and The NYT in just one day. (Oh, LIFE.) If it was a chilly, gloomy winter Saturday and we had hours to kill before the papers thumped in our driveway, we might have been hard-pressed to fend off boredom and seasonal depression.

And so it happened, once upon a time in our little yellow house in Elmhurst, that Trey stumbled upon my beloved collection of Willie Morris books and selected from the stack My Dog Skip. It seemed the perfect pick: a sweet memoir, a single-afternoon read, set in my home state. I gave him my blessing and sent him to a comfortable chair. And for a while, all was well.

After some time had passed, however, I began to fret. He was really enjoying the book, occasionally laughing out loud and reading excerpts to me. He seemed happy and carefree, as if he were channeling Willie at age 10. I could visualize him tromping through the streets of Yazoo with his own tail-wagging doggie pal by his side. Uh-oh, I thought. If he can't see what lies ahead, this could get ugly.

He didn't see it coming at all, of course. Gradually, the laughter died down. His forehead furrowed. And then (he's going to be furious with me for repeating this), the boom was lowered. He dropped his chin to his chest, covered his eyes and chunked the book across the room as if it were a live grenade. "Oh, sweetie," I said, wrapping my arms around him. "I'm so sorry. Didn't you know?

"There's no such thing as a happy ending to a dog story."

All my life, I've had dogs. The sole exceptions have been my first year in college, pre-Boo the evil beagle, and the past five months, post-Muddy the Wonder Mutt. And although neither scenario is a very smart idea right now, I have to say that any degree of babylust I occasionally feel is usually overshadowed by my yearning to bring another dog into our home.

The assurance that they will someday break your heart does not one thing to deter you from falling head over heels in love with their cold wet noses, expressive ears and furry paws that smell, inexplicably, of Fritos.

And really, why not? Who else adores you when you're cranky and in the throes of premenstrual syndrome? Who else leaps in the air with glee when you return to the house with nothing more exciting than a gallon of milk? Who else is capable of melting an angry, ice-cold heart (rendered thus by an afternoon snack of a library book that was, it should be noted, not even very tasty) by placing a chin on your knee and looking you straight in the eye until you are forced to acknowledge that perhaps the bookcase would be a better resting spot for future literary loans?

So we relent. We accept that there will be collateral damage. We open our hearts and our houses. We relinquish major pieces of furniture for the sake of their comfort, we stand out in the freezing rain whilst they search for the perfect spot to piddle, we seek out dog-friendly restaurants and parks. We love and are loved.

And when it's time, we grieve and mourn and weep until we reach that point when, incredibly, we can smile at the idea of them running through the wide open fields of dog heaven, chasing squirrels and barking to their hearts' content.

Dear sweet redheaded Edgar, we wish you safe passage to that big sofa in the sky. Boo, Muddy, Moose, Jeb, Guda, Heidi, Maggie and legions of other loyal pals are all waiting for you with a big biscuit jar at the ready. Heck, even ill-tempered Fred has promised to make you feel at home.

Go on, now... good dog.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also see our beloved Max and Pudge in dog heaven. Amy, you did not know our Max, but he was a wonderful dog. Who can ever forget our Heidi begging at the table to the point no one wanted to finish their meal. God loved them all. Love, Ellie

5:25 PM  

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