Conversation With a Dog

Steve MerrymanStories12 Comments

Boris in 2018
I was sitting on a bench at the mall when my dog walked up and sat on the floor beside me.

“How are you doing?” he said.

“This is a dream.”

“Yep!” he replied as his head turned and scanned the shoppers. “You know, I always liked it when you brought me here. Climate control. Lots of smells. And the food court…”

“You were food crazy.”

“Yeah. It’s the breed. They bred Labs to be food-focused. It helps with training. The trouble is it made concentration on other things very difficult.”

“Oooh, I don’t know about that,” I said. “You were pretty focused on chasing deer and other critters.”

“Well, that’s…”

“In fact, I remember several times you took off, right into the woods after a critter while I ran after you yelling ‘Come back! Have a biscuit!’.”

“Yeah, but…”

“And we had to establish a yearly veterinary budget because you kept running into things and getting hurt. Splinters in your toes. Barbed wire…”

“Hey! Those were…”

“Every year we could almost guarantee another $900 vet bill for some of your crazy shenanigans.”

He shrugged and looked at me.

“Do you regret it?”

I tilted my head slightly, questioning.

“Did you regret having me around?”

I reached down and scratched his neck exactly where he liked it. I knew the spot. I didn’t have to look.

“I loved every minute of it, Boris.”

He leaned into me, his leg shimmying.

I knelt over and nuzzled his head. I took a good sniff. Humans aren’t as well equipped in the nose department as dogs, but after ten years, I knew his scent. And I loved the smell of my dog.

He turned to me and began licking my ears. He gave them a gentle nibble.

I laughed, and soon heard the thump-thump of his tail.

We sat there for a minute, enjoying each others’ company.

A lady walked by carrying several bags and pushing a stroller with two toddlers. They looked at us with a curious detachment. One of them pointed at us and attempted speech, but could only manage “Mtrffshhhhglmrph”.

I looked at the dog and he at me. We laughed.

Eventually, we fell silent. Him leaning against me, and I with my hand on his neck.

We sat at the bench, and the shoppers continued their pursuits.

They parted around us as though we were an island in a river. Few of them took note of the man and his dog. Instead they pawed their smartphones and walked on.

He shuffled his feet, and I sensed something was weighing on his mind.

“I knew something was up when you took me out for burgers and ice cream. Then we walked out into the lawn and you had me lay on an old bed sheet.”

“You knew I was digging a hole.”

“Yeah, but I never thought…” he shook his head. “Look, I knew I wasn’t doing well. Every walk began with the usual excitement…”

“You loved your walks most of all.”

“… but after a few steps, I got tired. My legs were weak and my chest hurt. I could barely finish. And after, I’d sleep for hours.”

“Your heart was failing, Boris. There was nothing we could do.”

I held my hand on the back of his neck and gently stroked.

“I’m sorry we had to put you down.”

He looked at me with a knowing gaze.

“Yeah. Well… I had nine great years, and one final crappy one.”

“I wish it could have been otherwise,” I said, quietly.

“Me too.”

I swept a tear away and tried to keep my voice even.

“It was for the best.”

We sat again in silence as the mall and its endless shoppers bustled in their noisy quest. A man stopped to tie his shoe. A woman coming from behind, her nose in her phone, almost knocked him over. Somewhere a child had a screaming fit.

All the noise faded away. A shroud of silence enveloped us.

He cleared his throat and turned to me.

“Even at the end, I trusted you.”

Boris in 2018

12 Comments on “Conversation With a Dog”

  1. Oooooh maaaaaannn really ??? Do you realize how long my commute is? Where am I going to buy new mascara and eye liner this time of the morning….. homeward bound… sigh (jk)

    I lost my Belgian Malinois n 2014, died in my arms at 1:37 am at home on the living room floor, me doing artificial respiration mouth to snout knowing full well it doesn’t stop organ shut down… to this day I cry at the thought of him and always will…. and apparently at the thought of yours as well…

    RIP our friends, they give so much and ask so little.

    I miss you Smioer!!!!

  2. Hi, Sigmadog
    I am so sorry for your loss. For us who remain, it takes quite awhile to come to grips with the loss. We lost “Barney” our 16 year old GermanShorthair over 20 years ago, and I still think of him. Fast forward to July 2019 and we lost “Dino” our incredibly bright and interactive Basenji….just 4 months shy of his 17th birthday. It was an exact replay of all the emotions I felt when we lost Barney.

    When I was in college, classic philosophy taught us that only Man has an immortal soul. “Dogs have no claim on life after death in Heaven” said the professors. I say “hogwash.” Here’s a link to a recent article that supports my side of the argument.
    Focusing on all the joys that our pals brought to our lives has been my pathway to deal with these losses.
    Best regards, and see you on NWFA

    1. I agree, CB, in the end the joy outweighs the sadness when it comes to our canine friends. I know eventually the thought of Boris will bring a smile to my face more than tears. I’m not there yet, however.

      Thank you for the encouragement.

  3. Just now seeing all my typos , the combination of drenched eyes and answering on my iPhone made it a challenge. Sorry there’s no edit button….. Rest In Peace Sniper.. hugs

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