Essay On Why I Should Get A Puppy

It was early November 2001, a couple of months after 9/11. We put him in their yard while we figured out what to do. We spent some of our finest days back there, picking up pecans or weeding the flower beds as our dog and our tabby cat played in the grass. At night Fred would sleep in a crate in the garage, and Rocket slept in the seat of our John Deere riding mower. Our yard didn’t have a fence, so we took him across the street to our neighbors, Bill and Susie. I wanted to call him Herschel, after my favorite football player, the great Herschel Walker, who won the Heisman for the University of Georgia when I was a freshman there a million years ago. When the door lifted enough for Alix to see, she saw two things: One, Fred had in fact scared the geese silly—they were taking off toward the pond. She showed it to Fred, and he instantly dropped the gosling. Fred had cradled it in his mouth the whole time, never biting down. Sometimes I’d roughhouse with him and he’d grab my arm with his teeth, a million years of wild dog battling a thousand generations of breeding. I’d stand at the corner of the garden fence and watch. I’d dig a treat out of my pocket and hold it high where he could see. It was an expression of natural joy, his ears blown back, his eyes wide, every muscle in perfect sync. He never stopped on time and so he would go flying past and slam on the brakes, scrabbling in the dirt like a cartoon. We think he got dumped in the street, or escaped a bad place. In that big backyard at the first house, we had a garden and a couple of pecan trees.

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When we first started to walk him on a leash, he’d turn around every 20 feet and beg for a snack. He’s got some hunting dog in him—besides the Lab part, we think he’s part German shorthaired pointer, because of his thin back end and the tan speckles on his cream coat. His favorite snack was poop from the Canada geese who hung out at our little pond. We’d steer him away from the droppings, but he’d always find one we missed. Years later, when we were renovating our bathroom, we took our shampoo and toothpaste and stuff and put it in a box. We Googled “dog ate bar of soap,” and the Internet told us everything from “he’ll be fine” to “OH GOD HE’S GONNA DIE.” We were getting ready for church. The vet said that sometimes, dogs that eat soap end up farting bubbles. One morning Alix saw them gathered outside the garage and decided a dose of Fred might scare them off. At the old house, I used to let him out every morning to roam the backyard. He cowered at the sight and sound of trucks and, for some reason, white vans. He was about two months old when he showed up at our house, and we always wondered what happened to him in those two months.It happened like this: After a walk in the park with a friend, I saw a young woman sitting in a car talking to a dog.Even from a distance, beneath the hard glass of the windshield, we could tell this was an exceptional animal.Make sure he knows how lucky we are that he showed up in our life one day.My other hope is that up there, we’re all young and strong again. I’ll take him outside on a beautiful night and he’ll just stand in the yard and look around. They make you deal with death and loss before you’re ready.It got me really frustrated until I realized the problem: I was mad at him for dying on us. Alix and I are having a hard time imagining a life without Fred, but we’re going to have to live it. It’s most likely one of two cancers, both malignant. And even if it works, the specialist said, he’s not likely to make it to 15. At the time, we lived in a house in Derita with a long driveway. When Fred wandered off, Rocket would come back down and stroll into Fred’s line of sight. Finally Alix and I figured out a trick: We’d get the car and drive to where he’d wandered. Back then, there was nothing he liked better than a car ride. But some dogs are alpha dogs, and Fred is an omega. Once we took him to a dog park, and three or four other dogs jumped him right when we got inside. He was OK, but the rest of the time he was there, he went off by himself to the far corners of the park. We were all walking around with holes in our lives. We walked back to our house, and about halfway up the drive, I looked back. The cat, Rocket, would let Fred chase him and then head up a tree when he got too close. After Rocket died a year or so later, Fred would chase a cat now and then, but he never tried hard to catch one. Every so often he’d get loose and take off, exploring the neighbors’ backyards. He’d look over his shoulder at me and trot just out of reach, like Rocket used to do to him.Now in his last days, arthritis has made it harder for him to get down, so he backs into a corner and sort of slides down on the bed. We spent a year in Boston and it snowed 60 inches that winter.He’d bound through the park across from our apartment and come home with a snootful of frost.

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