How Could You?
Have the tissues ready when reading this BUT it is important to
understand this story
How Could You?
When I was a puppy, I
entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child,
and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I
became your best friend. Whenever I was "bad" you'd shake your finger at me
and ask "How could you?" -- but then you'd relent and roll me over for a
My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly
busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you
in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed
that life could not be any more perfect.
We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I
only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs" you said), and I took
long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.
Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more
time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you
through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions,
and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.
She, now your wife, is not a "dog person" -- still I welcomed her into our
home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you
were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I
was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother
them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most
of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate.
Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a "prisoner of love." As they
began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled
themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears,
and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch
-- because your touch was now so infrequent -- and I would've defended them
with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their
worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in
There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you
produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These
past few years, you just answered "yes" and changed the subject.
I had gone from being "your dog" to "just a dog," and you resented every
expenditure on my behalf. Now, you have a new career opportunity in another
city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow
pets. You've made the right decision for your "family," but there was a time
when I was your only family.
I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It
smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the
paperwork and said "I know you will find a good home for her." They shrugged
and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged
dog, even one with "papers." You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my
collar as he screamed "No, Daddy! Please don't let them take my dog!" And I
worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and
loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life.
You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused
to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I
have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew
about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another
good home. They shook their heads and asked "How could you?"
They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow.
They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever
anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you...that you had
changed your mind -- that this was all a bad dream...or I hoped it would at
least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me.
When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy
puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.
I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded
along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She
placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart
pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of
The prisoner of love had run out of days.
As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears
weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.
She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek.
I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She
expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the
cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her
kind eyes and murmured "How could you?"
Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said "I'm so sorry."
She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a
better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to
fend for myself -- a place of love and light so very different from this
earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a
thump of my tail that my "How could you?" was not directed at her.
It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think
of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show
you so much loyalty.