Here at the Fakename blog, we aren’t always the happy-go-lucky, upbeat person you’ve grown to love and expect. (Staff cues canned laughter.)
So last week I asked Yard Guy what happened to Rusty, his mother’s Dachshund. Rusty was the very picture of bright and breezy. He’s the kind of dog who made you want a Dachshund, even if it had never previously crossed your mind. He and my dogs were fence friends. (As opposed to the dogs on the other side, who are fence enemies.)
Yard Guy says that two weeks before, he had taken Rusty to the vet and had him put down. I was like, What? Just two weeks ago? I haven’t seen Rusty in months! He said…that’s because he no longer wanted to go outside and play. And Playful was Rusty’s middle name. No amount of barking and intimidation attempts by my dogs ever disturbed his sunny disposition.
It seems that some months ago, Rusty developed a lump on his shoulder. The vet said they could remove it, but it would be $4,000, with no guarantee of success. Yard Guy told his mother that if she commited to that, he would personally come over and kill her. He was kidding of course. Sort of.
So the alternative was Wait. By Yard Guy’s description, the lump grew to a massive size, and Rusty became more and more listless. So the time came. You would kind of have had to be there to see the look on Yard Guy’s face as he talked about it, but it was like a veil dropping. His own naturally lively face hardened in some way and there was somehow a visible look of pain in his eyes. And part of it was like, I always have to do the hard stuff. Yard Guy’s father is dead, his brother is worthless, so who’s left? He always gets the clean-up jobs, and people assume that because he can do it, he has no feelings about it. My heart was breaking for him.
I should mention that Yard Guy has a dog himself, a Chihuahua named Peaches, who is positively glued to him. He takes her everywhere, even, he told me, to work. In Real Life he works for an auto body shop. He says that she sleeps all day in the passenger seat of his truck (how unusual–a dog that sleeps all day!), with the door open, so that she can see him if he does something unacceptable, like move. It’s a little jarring to know this very hearty, physical guy, with…a Chihuahua? He seems more like the Rottweiler type to me. But there you go with making assumptions. I probably look more like the Chihuahua type, but I’m the type in Real Life who had a Rottweiler.
I can testify to the truth of Peaches’ behavior. At my house she will wander around a bit, but not so far that she can’t keep Yard Guy in her sights. But she’s starting to have some trouble with that. She’s very old (16 or 17), and has developed cataracts, so she can’t always see and keep up with Yard Guy like she needs to. Just the weekend before, she was wandering and got lost. Only so far as the house next door to Yard Guy’s mother, but really, how far can you go when you can’t see, weigh like 3 pounds, and have legs the length of a toothpick?
While Yard Guy and I were talking, Peaches took a dump right in front of us at the base of a pine tree. Yard Guy was like, Thanks a lot, Peaches, for embarassing me. I was like, What? I’d have to get a magnifying glass to find it. I’ve seen dead houseflies bigger than this.
So Yard Guy says that when he loses Peaches, he will never get another dog. Uh huh, I said. People always say that. No really, he says, I mean it. I’m working a full-time job and doing this yard care stuff on the side. I just don’t have time. It would not be fair to the dog. Uh huh, I said. (And didn’t say, what about the part where they sleep most of the day? And the part about where you can take him/her to work with you?) It isn’t really about anything he said. It’s about the looming prospect of losing Peaches, and her irreplaceability.
I’m personally leery of Chihuahuas, because if they aren’t the most timid creatures on earth, they are the meanest. There seems to be no in between. Except maybe for Peaches, who is maybe too old to fall into either extreme. I let Peaches sniff my jeans, and once extended my hand for her to sniff, but I am not stupid enough to try to pet her, although I’d like to. Peaches is not very dangerous though. She’s more like, indifferent.
When my two dogs die, which in one case will be sooner rather than later, I’m never getting another dog either. They are so much trouble. Uh huh. Right.
Obviously, I cannot comment on stories about dogs that die….;)
Aw. I kind of wish you would repost your story about Big Black. There are always these stories about dogs who are loyal to their owners even after death. I remember one about a dog who always met his owner at the train station when he came home from work, and he continued to do so even after his owner died, until his own death. That just seriously broke my heart, picturing this dog, every day, hoping that today would be the day that his owner came home again. But you are the only person I’ve ever known who did that in reverse: you are the person who has been loyal to a dog for your entire life. I entirely excuse you from ever getting another dog. Most people are not as sensitive and loyal as you, including me, so I don’t quite believe them when they say, “I’m never getting another dog”.
Wait…did I just call you sensitive? 🙂
I probably put a little dent in your tough guy image there.