I know it’s not August and that’s when people usually refer to “The Dog Days of Summer.” But at a recent get-together with friends we started swapping dog stories, about our pets and the pets of people we know.
I have had my share of incidents with dogs. I’ve had one “loaner” dog and two of my own. The loaner dog was my uncle’s. He was career USN (my uncle, not the dog) and he had an unexpected assignment at sea and we became the dog-sitters for the sweetest little miniature dachsund you ever met, named Omar.
Omar, despite his German ancestry, absolutely adored my Mom’s tomato sauce (or “gravy” as some Italians call it.) When she would get the pot going on Sunday afternoon he would do the most hilarious dancing, jumping and spinning near the stove because the smell of it just drove him mad with desire. Uncle came back and Omar went home. And we had extra meatballs.
My first experience as a dog owner was with Ralph. He was a very mild-mannered, toddler-tolerant Miniature Schnauzer who survived the somewhat sudden appearance of three human “siblings” after his own arrival. Then he just took off one day.
Either he’d had it with the glitter on his eyebrows and the Play-Doh hot dogs he was fed or someone dog-napped him. He did have a propensity for sneaking out of the house when one of the kids left a door open (and who could blame him? He only weighed about 12 pounds and a 25 pound baby thought he was a horse.) Usually we found him right away but there was that one day he was just gone. We were sad. No note, nothing. Just gone.
My second dog was Spike. He was what we liked to call a “dust-mop dog.” He was little and quite furry (a cross between a Pekingese and a Poodle called, oddly enough, a “Peekapoo”) and he had funny little hairs that stuck up in front on his “forehead” which is why he was named what he was. He looked sort of like a Gremlin from the movie of the same name that was popular when we got him.
Spike hated The Ex and vice-versa.
The pup, who was very well-trained, would only urinate in the house in The Ex’s Cole-Haans or if he managed to get upstairs, on his side of the bed. One day The Ex did something that particularly annoyed Spike and he bit The Ex. I was informed that “…either Spike goes, or I go.” The kids were pretty much all grown then and I said to myself, “Spike’s W-2? Zero. The Ex’s? … hmmmm.” A friend found a nice family for Spike and he went to live with other folks…until he bit one of them. The story didn’t end happily for anyone. Especially Spike.
So, after too many drinks and too much good food, we were sitting around at the friend’s house and somehow we got onto the subject of dogs dying.
This prompted a friend of mine to tell a story that had me absolutely rolling on the floor.
I should preface this by saying “K” is one of the sweetest, kindest people I know. She is the type of person that would do anything for you and smile the whole time she’s doing it, even if it were extraordinarily inconvenient for her. You would never know it was a problem. She would make you think she’d planned on doing this favor anyway and it was no big deal.
Well, “K” was divorced for a few months when she got a tearful phone call from her Ex. He was a big (I think she said 6′ 4″ tall), strapping Captain in a big city Fire Department and he was sobbing. His Cocker Spaniel had died and he needed K’s help to dispose of its remains. I’m sure K wasn’t thrilled about this, but in her usual good-natured way she went over to help.
Her Ex’s version of helping was to take the poor dead dog, who was now stiffening in the true “play dead” pose, wrap it in a sheet and lay it on the back seat of the car and have K drive him and the newly deceased to the vet to have the dog cremated. He was so distraught, he was in no state of mind to deal with the arrangements, so good “old” K went in to the vet and asked to have someone help her bring the poor creature in to be cremated.
The receptionist pulled up the records and apparently her Ex had an outstanding debt of $68. with this veterinarian and they weren’t having anything to do with the disposal until that was paid. K, rightfully, refused to pay it and went back out to the car to tell her Ex. He said he didn’t have the money but he knew another place where they could go.
K drove over to the next office, got out, went in and was met by another receptionist, who upon pulling up the records there, informed K that her Ex owed them $72. and nothing could be done until that bill was paid in full.
Back out to the car.
Her inconsolable Ex thought of one more place they could try. I can’t even imagine what the odor in the car must have been like after an hour of driving around with a dead dog in the back seat, but K being who she was, she pressed onward. She said he didn’t smell very nice when he was alive and this was only slightly worse. But again, she’s kind beyond words.
Apparently they were able to find one veterinarian in the Greater Los Angeles area to whom this guy did not owe money and he took care of the poor creature.
To this day, K wonders if he ever paid for the services to that vet.
Another day I will tell you about my friend’s dog, Francis and his ashes.