Haven Animal Hospital

7775 South Rainbow Blvd., Ste 160
Las Vegas, NV 89139



Paw Print

How Could You

by Jim Willis


   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 would shake your finger at me and say "How could you?" but then you would 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 it 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 more perfect.  We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides and stopped for ice cream.  I got the cone because you said ice cream is bad for dogs.  I took naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of each day.

   Gradually you began to spend more time at work and more time searching for a human mate.  I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments and never chided you about bad decisions.  I 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 and tried to show her affection and obeyed her.  I was happy because you were happy.

   Then the human babies came 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 were worried I would would hurt them and I spent most of my time vanished to another room.  Oh how I wanted to love them, but I became a prisoner of love instead.

   As they began to grow, I became their friend.  They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers into my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose.  I loved everything about them and their touch, because your touch was so infrequent now.  I would have defended them with my life if need be.  I would sneak into their beds at night and listen to their worries and dreams and together we waited for the sound of your car coming home.

   There was a time when others asked if you had a dog, you would produce a photo of me from your wallet. These past few years you just answered, "Yes I have a dog".  I went from being your dog to "a dog" and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

   Now you have a new career opportunity in another city where you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets.  You have made the right choice for you and your family but there was a time I was your family.  I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter.  It smelled of fear and hopelessness.

   You filled out the paper work and said "I know you will find a good home for her."  They just shrugged and gave you a pained look.  They understood the realities facing a  middle aged dog, even one with "papers".  You had to pry your son's fingers from my collar as he screamed.  And I worried for him and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty and love and responsibility and respect for life, all life.  You gave me a goodbye pat on the head and refused to meet my eyes.  You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too.

   After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably made no attempt to find me a new home.  They shook their heads and said, "How could you?" They are as attentive to us as their busy schedules allow.  They feed us but I stopped eating days ago. At first, when anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front hoping you had changed your mind.  Or that it was someone who may save me. When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking puppies, oblivious to their fate, I retreated to the back corner and waited. I heard her footsteps as she came for me one day.  I padded along the aisle with her to a quiet room.  She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears and told me not to worry.  My heart pounded but there was also relief.  The prisoner of love had run out of days.

   As is my nature, I was more concerned about her.  The burden she bears weighs heavily on her, I know that the same as I knew your every mood.  She gently placed the tourniquet on my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek.  I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you.  She expertly slid the needle into my vein.  As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing though me, slowing my heart, I lay dow sleepily, looked into her eyes and murmured, "How could you?"

   Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said, " I am so sorry."  She hugged me and hurriedly explained that it was her job to make sure I would not be ignored, abused or abandoned and that I went to a better place, one filled with light and love so different from this earthly place.

   With my last bit of energy, I tried to convey with a thump of my tail my "How could you" was not directed at her.  It was you Beloved Master I was thinking of.  I will think of you and wait for you forever.  May everyone in your life show you so much loyalty.