We lost a friend, we buried Pete today. Pete was my house mate’s dog, and like every other dog that has shared its life with us here he just showed up. Dogs do that here. They seem to show up when you need them most. My dog showed up four years after I lost Mike. I guess it was time. We rescued him from a couple with a screaming toddler. He was too much to handle and didn’t get along with the kid (I think it was the other way around), they said. “You want him?” He was the cutest puppy on earth, how could I resist? It’s doggy paradise here and word gets around.
Pete came strolling down the road one day and squatted in the yard. He hung around on the perimeter for a few days then slowly moved in, like a cat stalking prey. This was where he was going to live, by God, and no one was going stop him. Even the alpha male allowed him into the house and let him eat from the doggy food station, which NEVER happened with a “stranger” dog.
C had lost her beloved Poco a while back and was in no mood for another dog. Until, she said, “I looked into his eyes, that was it.”
Pete glommed onto her like sap to bark, would never leave her side and adored her as only a dog can. He accepted his place in the doggy hierarchy and took up residence. This was home.
It was apparent from the beginning that Pete didn’t like men, especially men with facial hair. J., my other house mate, and I are both begrizzeled with facial plumage and Pete would have nothing to do with us at first. I was puzzled by this and soon found an answer. My hired help saw Pete and proclaimed that he had Pete for a few months. That he had taken him from some guys that didn’t like him and abused him. The stories were sad and maddening. Pete was terrified of fireworks, thunder and gun shots. He had, we found out much later, buckshot in his butt, which ‘splained his aversion to that stuff. These bearded men, I was told, harassed and beat him when he tried to eat out of turn and apparently, shot him with bird shot at some point. I guess they didn’t want him.
After being passed around like a fruit cake at Christmas he ended up with a girl down by the river whose father didn’t like Pete because he looked too much like a wolf, which he did when he was younger. She showed up a few days after Pete moved in to formally pass possession to C, as if it mattered to Pete. He was C’s now and no transfer of title was necessary. The dog chooses it’s master, never forget that.
We usually have 3 or so dogs here at any given time. When Pete moved in the total bumped up to four, not counting the neighbor’s golden retriever who, apparently, lived here too. That made five. Pete was sort of the peace maker for the alpha dog who could be surly at times. At 100lbs plus, Pete was a gentle giant. He’d jump in and put himself between any dogs at odds, acting as arbitrator for doggy disputes. Except for the healers from across the road. For some reason he didn’t like either one of them but particularly one of them. I couldn’t tell the difference, they were both orange, small and sported a Napoleonic complex. Pete would attack at the first paw on the lawn. He never hurt them, he just let them know they were not welcome. You never heard such screaming and whining. He never did warm up to those dogs.
Well, the years came and went, we lost Bear and the neighbor’s dog and Pete ascended to the position of top dog, although he was never in your face about, he just was. It was a case of greatness through attrition. He was family now and we loved him, dearly.
Then, last Spring I noticed Pete was limping, favoring one leg. I mentioned it to C who took the position of let’s wait and see. It was soon apparent that something was wrong and she took him to the vet. It was bone cancer, a fast moving cancer that takes dogs with alarming speed. We were devastated. It was partly due to the breed, and the bird shot in his butt likely got the ball rolling. Pete? How could this be happening to Pete?
Throughout the summer the tumor on his hind leg grew until it was grotesquely large. Pete was having more and more trouble getting around. We watched as Pete valiantly hobbled around on three legs doing doggy stuff and doing the best with his disability. He was damned noble about it. But, it got worse and worse and soon he couldn’t get up.
The vet showed up early evening after 3 days of rain and cold. The sun had just come out. We had Pete on a blanket in the yard. I suspect he knew his time had come but he seemed happy and content, as she gently held his head in her hand, to be looking into C’s eyes when he drew his last breath. We buried him in the back next to the cat and several other dogs and cats that left us here wondering why we only have them for such a short time. Why they seem better than most people we know. Why the unconditional love of a dog lasts only a few years. And why do we have to say goodbye to our friends so soon. Why Pete?
She laid a flower on his grave.
Author’s note: I know this is a sad way to start a blog but I have to write what’s on my mind. And I needed to write this.
Good bye, Pete