She isn’t my dog. Really she isn’t. She smells like death and can barely walk. Good thing she isn’t my dog.
I first met her about eleven years ago. Her coat was a shiny black and her eyes were bright. She ran to greet me and guide me to a dinner date. It was the first night I had dinner with Kahuna’s family at their house. She was just a big black bouncy Labrador mix happy to greet me. I exited my car and she immediately got up close and personal. When I say up close and personal I mean snout in the crotch personal. A kind of how do you do let me record your smell in my mind so that I will always know it’s you. She was an outside dog then. She ruled ten acres of rough Southern California desert terrain with an iron paw. Her name was Nikki and she was the alpha dog and she isn’t my dog.
That first night I knew I liked her. She was bright, attentive and definitely had a mind of her own. I hoped she liked me back. She must have because on subsequent visits to Casa de Bruno she brought me presents like squirrels, lizards, tarantulas and once a pig’s head. Yes, a pig’s head. We think someone must have buried a pig in the ground for a Luau and she dug it up. What a surprise they had when they dug uptheir succulent pig and found it uncovered and headless. Good thing she isn’t my dog.
So began our relationship. Pretty soon I became part of the family and she became a bigger part of my life. She protected me when I was home alone. This was usually done by me bringing her into the house at night because of the coyotes. I would make her a bed of old blankets on the floor and tell her to stay. She would wait until I was fast asleep and sneak over to the sofa where I would find her in the morning stretched out, all four feet in the air snoring. We played this game of no no/yes yes. I would tell her no and she would ignore me and do whatever she pleased. I saved scraps of meat and bones for her and she in returned gave me companionship, security and unconditional love. Good thing she isn’t my dog.
Years have passed and we moved away from Casa de Bruno into the suburbs where she can no longer run free range. She has become a house dog. She has spent the last six years languishing in the cool indoors watching television and waiting for her walks where once again she is allowed to run like the wild animal she dreams she is. She lies as close to me as she can get as she does others. She needs human contact now. She wants to know she is safe, secure and has a companion. Now she struggles to go on her walks, some days she only runs in her dreams. Good thing she isn’t my dog.
Her muzzle is grey and there is a large cancerous growth below one eye. Her body is lumpy and she smells bad. She is banished to a corner of the kitchen where if she has an accident it is easily cleaned. She watches every move we make and wags her tail happily when paid the slightest of attention. Good thing he isn’t my dog.
I know her days are numbered. Soon she will cross the rainbow bridge where she will once again chase squirrels, antagonize bunnies and dig up pig heads. She will be free from the constraints of her corner in the kitchen and of the pain. My heart is breaking as I watch her hobble to her spot and she turns those big dark eyes no longer shining up at me as if to say I’m okay right here as long as I’m close to you. Good thing she isn’t my dog because I can’t imagine my heart breaking any more than it is.