Well, I knew it was coming--knew it last September, when I wrote him into an article about puppies. I was heading over to the Riverside Grocery for a few things yesterday, and I see Gloria on Broadway, by herself, and wave hello--and something in her eyes tells me there's news, and the news is bad, and I'm never going to see her with Dallas again. I'm never going to stroke his ears again, while he and Max sniff each other happily, and Gloria and I exchange the news of the day. We'll still talk to each other, of course--Max will always be pleased to see her, and she him. Without our dogs, we'd have been strangers to each other, no matter how many years we lived on the same block, and passed each other on the street. And if you added up all the times that dogs have broken down the barriers between people in this city, you might find that there wouldn't be much of a city without them. But that's a rant for another day.
I've met so many calm sociable dogs in the past year, but something about Dallas was different, special--it seemed almost like he couldn't help being happy and welcoming--his increasing physical infirmity never seemed to dampen his joyful spirits in the slightest. He was old, his joints hurts, his ailments were innumerable, but he always had a smile and a wagging tail for whoever he happened to meet. If I were to give him a human voice, it'd be Louis Armstrong, when he was singing "What a Wonderful World." Ohhhhhh yeahhhhhh.
So when Gloria told me he'd developed a urinary tract infection, and been taken to the Animal Medical Center's ER, and how sad the vet had said he'd looked--well, for Dallas to look sad, it could only have been the end. His life had never been a burden to him before, no matter how sick he got. The line had finally been crossed, and it was time to let him go. Those of us with companion animals all have to look for that change. And we all dread it. And the decision that comes with it.
Gloria has this message for all of Dallas' friends:
Thank you so much ,for your thoughts and kindness to me and Dallas. I was so lucky to have had such a wonderful friend. He saw me thru some of hardest times the last 10years. He truly was an incredible animal, he never barked, he made everyone feel like he was just looking at them when he saw them, and made them feel like they were so special. If I had company he would go to his room and get his bone and then sit next to whoever and keep himself busy, like he knew adults were busy and he didn't want to bother them. I could never figure it out. He had wonderful manners and I did not teach them to him. I loved him, and will always love this calm and gentle dog. He did more for me then I did for him. I have had him cremated because I feel he deserved a resting place with my late husband who loved him as much as I did. Everyone has been so wonderful to me from e-mails to cards I am so happy he touched so many people, it does my heart good.
"The Dog's Book of Verse", in slightly antiquated English, provides a fitting elegy to a neighbor I will never stop missing.
I own a dog who is a gentleman;
By birth most surely, since the creature can
Boast of a pedigree the like of which
Holds not a Howard nor a Metternich.
By breeding. Since the walks of life he trod
He never wagged an unkind tale abroad,
He never snubbed a nameless cur because
Without a friend or credit card he was.
By tenderness. The littlest girl may tear
With absolute impunity his hair,
And pinch his silken, flowing ears, the while
He smiles upon her—yes, I've seen him smile.
By loyalty. No truer friend than he
Has come to prove his friendship's worth to me.
He does not fear the master—knows no fear—
But loves the man who is his master here.
By countenance. If there be nobler eyes,
More full of honor and of honesties,
In finer head, on broader shoulders found,
Then have I never met the man or hound.
Here is the motto on my lifeboat's log:
"God grant I may be worthy of my dog!"