I got in late last night, after putting in an obscenely long work day. My
dogs greeted me with their usual zeal when I walked through the door, and
Bubby, especially, as was his wont, just couldn't get enough of me. Every
time I took a step forward, he would jump back up and put his forepaws on
my chest, begging me to scratch him just so, and giving me that look he
always had. That look that always allowed me to look through his eyes into
his soul and see the profundity of his unbridled affection for me.
Bubby was not the "chief" dog in our little pack, but he was, secretly, my
favorite. Bubby and I had a special relationship that was different even
from that I share with my "puppy princess" Freckles. Freckles is always
close at hand, and wherever I am, she must be within sight of me. Bubby
was more of a free ranging spirit, but he always stayed close, and always
came when I called him. When I did, he poured forth such good cheer and
adoration that I could not help but hold him most dear of all, in spite of
his slightly more troublesome nature.
Last night, I let him out to pee, and I forgot to call him back. I realized
this half an hour later, and then I stayed up until 5:30 AM roaming the
neighborhood in my car, on foot. I walked over the bridge and through the
woods. I found dog prints and deer prints, and supposed perhaps he had
chased a deer over the pedestrian bridge into the forest. I walked about
two miles in the dead of night with my flashlight, poking around in all the
out of the way ugly places in all the commercial properties surrounding us.
I walked the same distance on the business route, up one side and down the
other, probing both ditches with my flashlight, and yelling until I could
barely make a sound.
I never thought to perform the same search on the new bypass that runs
behind the house. There is a barbed wire fence all along its length, to
keep the road on the road side, and the non-road on the non-road side. I
had verified the integrity of this fence many times, and I trusted it so
much that the business route did not even enter my consciousness as a
possible location to search for him.
I suppose, in retrospect, I should have searched the fence line first. I
might have gotten more sleep last night, instead of starting and waking
every few minutes to go to the door, and verify that the pile of catfood
(his favorite) had still gone uneaten. Bubby loved catfood.
Bubby found a break in the fence about a mile from here, went up the hill,
and got killed on the bypass two miles from home. There was not enough of
him left to bring home for a proper burial. As much as I wanted to see him
laid to rest here at home, I could not bring myself to lug a 60 pound bag
of dog parts on the two mile hike. When I found him, he was already on the
roadkill truck, and I decided to leave him there. I don't know if that was
the wrong decision or not.
I haven't lost a pet to a car in more than 20 years because I have always
been careful. Always. Always, until one night when I came home from
putting in an extremely long work day, let my dog out to pee on his own
recognizance, and then forgot to yell for him before he had a chance to
Dogs don't live long. It's a foregone conclusion that loving a dog is going
to lead inevitably and inexorably to heartbreak at some point down the
road. Sometimes they get diseases that no person of normal means can
afford to have treated. Sometimes they have inherent genetic defects that
lead them to have short, painful lives. Sometimes they live to be 15 or
18 or even 22, but the road always ends in heartbreak. Dogs live well, and
they live happy, and they burn up their measure of time far more rapidly
than we. Loving a species that can age from infancy to senescence in less
time than it takes a human to become old enough to grow a good beard always
carries with it an inescapable measure of tragedy.
Even so, Bubby's time was not supposed to have run out yet. It makes it all
the more difficult to bear. At two, he was still in his prime, with
several more years before he would have started to show the first signs of
aging. He probably could have stood at my side until my kids were out of
college, or maybe beyond. Dog lives are not so short that they can't span
wide expanses of human experience.
This is my fault, for failing in my vigilance, and for allowing yet another
cherished pet fall prey to the road. I don't know how long it will take me
to forgive myself. This day, this sadness, this loss was inevitable from
the day Bubby was born, for only by our human children can we rightfully
expect to be outlived, but this sad, hateful day was at least six, probably
ten, fifteen, even sixteen or more years too soon in coming. I was not
prepared for this. I would be more able to cope with the loss of my
precious Freckles, she who is always never more than 10' away from me, for
she has long been my stead companion, and the ravages of time are beginning
to affect her. Bubby was in the prime of life, and he, like millions
before him, died before his time because so many species have not yet
evolved any common sense when it comes to those mysterious bands of asphalt
and concrete that crisscross the civilized world.
I wish it had been Sugar. I love Sugar, but she was not nearly as dear to
me as my beloved Bubby. She was wont to slip her collar and range far and
wide. I strongly suspect that she lead Bubby to his death by showing him
the hole in the fence. Bubby was never an escape artist, but Sugar has
been trouble from the day she first showed up; having doubtless escaped
from some previous owner we were never able to locate.
So the worst of it, in a way, is that I have to continue to deal with the
living while trying not to hold her unfairly responsible for the dead.
They are, after all, only dogs. They do what dogs do. They may be
man-made things bred through the millennia to be our unique and un-natural
companions, but they are still creatures of Nature for all that, as are we
I hope he was enjoying whatever he was doing at the moment of impact
immensely, and that he left life with a happy thought in his head. Coming
home from work will never be the same again, no matter what new companions
eventually come into my life to fill this void. Each dog, each four-legged
friend, is different. The Bubby Era is officially over, and I have only a
mangled collar and some digital photographs I took of my beloved pet just a
few short days ago.
Thank you for reading this epitaph. I'm going to sit around and cry all
day, and then when the rest of my people get home from work and school, I
guess we will all cry together.
Thank you for two great years, Bubby. You were the most loving pet I have
ever had, and there will never be another one like you for as long as I
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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