Marley & Me: It's A Great Dog Story.
I just finished reading Marley & Me by John Grogan. It's a great book for dog lovers, but while it's about dogs, it's also about the making of a family. It's a fast read, and I'd recommend it to anyone.
It made me a little melancholy, I felt like I was reading about our lab, Winston. We got him right after moving into our brand new house; new carpet, new furniture, new everything. After Winston came, nothing looked new anymore.
He was a broken dog--taken from his mother when he was way too young. We were young as well and didn't know enough to run away. Winston suffered terribly from separation anxiety; he too had a terrible fear of thunder. His fear morphed into a fear of rain eventually--and we live in Seattle!
We had an elaborate routine we established each time we left the house so that if there was thunder we wouldn't face destruction when we returned. Sometimes it didn't work. I once had to call our computer helpline to reorder equipment. There had been a storm and Winston had chewed through every cable and power cord on both the computer and printer. He was lucky that he didn’t electrocute himself. We got free replacements because the service rep told me it was the best story he’d heard yet.
Winston had ear infections. He had allergies. The vet tested him for 50 allergens—he was allergic to 48 of them. My husband gave him shots every week for ten years. We spent literally thousands of dollars on that “free” dog. I know that people thought we were nuts, freaks, weirdoes, for taking such efforts and caring so much about a troublesome animal. In later years we adopted a stray that came to stay. Maggie is a wonderful dog, sweet, well mannered, infinitely manageable. Winston loved her and we feel that she kept the life in him for a few more years.
In the end, Winnie (or Pooh, or The Pooster as we called him) had bad eyesight, bad hearing, bad hips, bad breath, and all the other things that advanced age brings. He shared our lives for 15 years--that's a long time for his breed. When we finally had to have him put down, we cried like babies. We still do from time to time, and it's been a couple years now.
We love our Maggie, but I don't think we'll ever have another dog that we love as much as that crazy lab. We have his ashes in a beautiful wooden box. It’s on a shelf with his collar, his picture, and his tags. I couldn’t bear to bury him in case we ever moved and I had to leave him behind.
I knew a woman who once had a dog she loved. When it died she said she’d never have another—she couldn’t take the pain of the loss. I know what she means, but what about the joy?