This is a short story about a dear friend of mine.
|MAN'S BEST FRIEND
Phil McKay “Winddancer” 2003
This is my very first posting folks so be kind on a gentle old Disabled Vet. I would love to hear feedback from anyone. I know I need help in my writing but ya got to start someplace...
Besides my human brothers, you were the best companion I ever had. I can remember when you were born one early spring morning. I went into the bathroom and right there in the tub was the most precious thing I had ever seen. I was staying with my uncle in Scottsburg Oregon at the time. I can remember it as if it were yesterday. I had been wanting a puppy for so long and it was just not in the picture. No one thought I could fulfill the responsibility to manage and care for a puppy, they sure weren’t going out of their way to find out either. But right here in front of me was a real live puppy and as far as I could see it were no ones but mine. I felt sorry for you at the time, It was obvious to me that your mother was trying to kill you off. You were the runt and by all sense of the meaning you were not looking to healthy, but to be honest I felt that you were a prize package and whatever it would take, you were going to live ,better yet you were going to be all mine. I am sure that your brothers and sisters would have loved you but not as much as I would and could. You and I have a lot in common, in more ways than many would know.
I took you to my room and fed you with an eyedropper, I gave you scrapes left over from my dinner, whatever I could get down you to keep and make you strong. I had three weeks left with Uncle Chet before I had to go back home. I wanted to prove to him I was capable of caring for you cause I knew with his help we could talk Lloyd into letting me keep you. I had to choose a name, a good name, a fitting name, one that would match your personality. I watched you and studied your every move. I noticed that you were very snoopy. But, that was not a fitting name for a beautiful dog like you, it had to be something bold. But heck I was just a kid, and did not know much about anything myself. Then it hit me, it made all the sense in the world to me. My aunt was always reading these PI pocket books and the main character in these books was called Sam. Yes, Sam Spade the PI, he was always snooping around, checking things out and studying things for himself. That was it. Sam! Strong and fitting. Man this is kind of easy I was thinking to myself, I can tell we are long life friends and were going to make it through this life together. I was determined on doing a good job taking care of you so no one could or would try to take you away from me.
It was not long before you started eating on your own as I remember and when you started eating man, could you put it away. As the days and months went by we became closer and closer, you were never away from my side. We did everything together, in fact you could say we raised each other. When we were abandoned after Connie (Mom) passed away we became even closer. I would play hooky from school to work on the Fishing boats and I always made sure you were taken care of. I had a girlfriend also named Connie and I would take you to her so she could care for you. I would make sure she had money to buy you food and whatever else you would need. Everywhere else I went though, you went with me or us.
I would work with you all the time teaching you things, like speaking. At times I swear you could hold a conversation with me. I taught you how to roll over, play dead, and many other things. You loved to shake hands and were not afraid of anything or anyone. You were always polite if you wanted to be. You had a bit of an attitude and that is what I liked about you. You learned real fast to go to the door when nature called. I do not remember one time when you went on the floor. You were a great protector of me when we were alone which was most of the time in those days. What can say Sam, you were the closest friend I had. Well all I can say is we were family to each other. I always knew that you would be there for me anytime anywhere. I was thirteen at the time and this meant a lot to me, to have someone of my own. I remember all the joys we had together as well as the sorrows.
When I first brought you home I can remember that my step dad (Lloyd) did not like you and if it were not for Connie you would have been history, but good ole mom put her foot down and well you stayed with me. When Connie passed away it was hard on me and with no one around but you it helped me get through it. Lloyd started drinking heavy and leaving for weeks at a time, so basically we were it Sam, just you and me. But, we were strong and together we could do it I knew it in my heart. I know deep down inside Lloyd liked you after awhile, but he would not be caught dead admitting it to anyone. All I knew is that in you Sam I had a trusted loyal friend that was there for me as I was with you.
I remember the times when you would get hurt or sick I would be so scared, but I would doctor you up the best I could and you knew what ever it took to get you up and around I would do. Just like when I would get hurt or sick I knew you were going to be right there at my side no matter what. You seem to have an inner sense in you and you could tell if I was sick or not and you would always be there, unless you knew for sure that someone was there with me you would not even leave to go outside to potty. I often wondered how you could hold it so long.
I remember the first time I took you on the river in the boat. The river was up pretty high from the winter rains and we were out on the river when I hit a submerged log. The boat had split into two separate pieces and well of course we went in separate ways in the river. I was pretty lucky cause my half of the boat went pretty much to shore on its own with the current running the way it was. But of course you were not so lucky. You couldn’t or wouldn’t get out of your half of the boat so I had to run down the shore to keep up with your drifting part of the boat, trying to get you to jump and swim into shore with no avail of course. After chasing the boat down the river bank for about a mile and a half, I finally found a spot where the water narrowed enough so I could wade out and grab you out of your half of the boat. I was mad and scared at the same time. How could you be so damned stubborn? I just knew it was that attitude of yours coming out. You were happy that I finally saved you, you gave me kisses and were all over me like you knew that you were going to die, if I had not of saved you. I could see it in your eyes, you knew damned good and well I would have swam out to you if I had to. I would not let you drown. Even though I should have, you brat. I could tell by the look on your face you were truly thankful, then I felt guilty for the way I was thinking about you. I thought for a moment that you were just being stubborn but after seeing your face after saving you, I really think you were scared to get out of the boat. Whatever it was it was behind us and well what can I say, I really would have not let you drown buddy you know that.
Yes buddy, you were the best friend anyone could have. We went camping together, we had our adventures together, we played football together, went fishing together even though you never were to fond of the boats for some time, and heck you even went on dates with me sometimes. I had to laugh when we would play football with the other guys around the neighborhood you were a team by yourself I would think. You loved to play football, but you never learned the rules, in your mind the only rule was not to hurt anyone, everything else goes. You would let the guys get the ball and think they were going to make a touchdown, that is until you decide to grab there leg and drag them to our end of the field, ball and all. I thought it was amazing cause it did not matter how big the kid was you would never ever leave a mark on their legs from dragging them. Or I can remember if you happen to get the ball you would run all over the field just out of reach so no one could grab you or the ball, you would wait till they would almost reach you and then you would finally run to our end of the field as if you knew that it was going to give us points.
Well Sam, they say that a dogs years are seven to one, that meant that for every year I was getting older you were also, but seven years at a time. I had no Idea how many years dogs lived, but it always worried me that you were aging much faster than me, and that meant that you would more than likely die before me. Well after Connie dying that was enough for me I could not stand to loose you to.
Well It was another sad day I remember for both of us when our other Connie was killed we were both sick, depressed. It was one of the saddest times we had went through together in a long time and I was not sure what to do. We had been together for six years I wanted to leave town, I was not sure how or where though. I wanted to take you with me but then how or where would we go. We were all alone except for Chet and Marge there was absolutely no one. Lloyd had run off and went on one of his wonderful drinking sprees and come home with Kathleen the drinking machine. She and I did not get along one bit. As luck would have it we were thrown out of the house and not allowed to go in it anytime. We ate and slept in the bunkhouse which I remember was just fine for us. Anyway I thought about going into the Navy and figured that would be the best for us both. I asked Chet if you could stay up at his place till I got back and then we could go off together. He said fine and that’s what I did. We went up to Chet’s and spent about 3 weeks together before I left. You really became distant, it hurt me so much that you pretty well just ignored me for our last weeks together. You loved Uncle Chet, you would go up to him and kiss and lick him all over, the way you usually did me when we got together. I swear to this day you would look over your shoulder to see if I was watching and then do it even more as much to say go ahead and leave me. Man the guilt feelings I was having almost changed my mind. Uncle Chet had just retired so I knew you would be in good hands with a lot of things to do. But, on the other hand I did not want Chet taking my place in your heart. I was really jealous of my Uncle. I guess that was your way of telling me that you would be all right and that you both were old men and would get along fine together, I should not worry. I remember it was a cold damp day when you decide to take one of your famous trips, it was a few days before I was to leave. Anyway, you were no where around when I got up this particular morning. I went outside and called and called till I was blue in the face. I went driving the logging roads that I knew you went on when you were running. It was the day before I had to leave when early in the morning I heard a faint but familiar scratch at the door. I jumped up out of bed and went to the door and opened it, I was so proud of you remembering your trick. I was really puzzled when I opened the door though, the look you gave me was not your normal look, but what was normal these days? Anyway you gave me a look as though you were saying goodbye to a dear friend. I had a shiver run up my back and did not make the connection till much later. I closed the door and went back to my room and later that day when I came out of my room I looked around for you and you were no where to be found, again. That is when I got this really strange feeling, as though something was wrong, but I did not know what it was. The next morning, I had everything packed and was ready to take off. I called and searched as long as I could but again nothing. I was mad, hurt, confused and worried all at once, it was so strange the feeling I was having. I was getting so angry not being able to say goodbye to my best friend, I was worried by the way you had been acting and yet I was also happy that you were with someone that loved you about as much as I did. Well I waited as long as I could ole buddy, It was not meant to be that we say our good-byes. I just hoped everything was all right. Chet and Marge gave me my blessing and promised to write and send me pictures of my buddy often.
Well, my first letter from home was from Chet and Marge. I was so excited, I ran off to my barracks and ripped open the letter. I found that it was the letter I hoped I would never read. Chet wrote that you had passed away. He found you in the back room just off my bedroom there at the cabin wrapped up in my old sleeping bag dead, two days after I had left. He felt that Sam had died the day I left and that is why we could not get him to come when we called.
Sam I want to tell you. I have had many dogs in my lifetime and many friends, but, there has not and will not be any that can fill the spot in my heart that you hold to this day…You were not only the best friend a boy or man could have but you where the best companion one could have as well.
GODS SPEED MY FRIEND.. YOU ARE IN MY HEART FOR EVER AND EVER……