A sad and endearing story about a man and his dog and their changed lives. Flash Fiction
|The night before I went to pick up Augie at the Denver Dumb Friends League animal shelter, I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited. I had been at the shelter a lot in the past weeks but hadn’t made the connection with any of the unfortunate souls that were there with only hope in their eyes for a better life beyond the walls of confinement. It was fall and the leaves around town were brilliantly yellow and starting to break free of the branches where they had been residing throughout the summer.
As a single guy having just turned thirty, I was looking for some responsibility and companionship, and having not yet wed, I knew that a canine friend would be an endearing way of filling the void that I felt. I had always been a self described dog person and hadn’t yet taken on my own fuzzy partner. Camping, fishing, and traveling around the state would be better with Augie, and the moment I saw him, I knew that he would be the one for me. He had warm eyes that made a real connection, almost as if there was an unspoken communication. I hadn’t imagined that it would be a vizsla that I would adopt.
After I arrived at the shelter, I had to wait for him to be brought up front, and I had time to reflect on the past, and I realized that I was at a pivotal point in life and the excitement was overwhelming. Just the day before I had been there finishing the paperwork and signing all the agreements to care for the animal I was adopting and paying for his neutering surgery.
Finally, the door opened and out he came, still woozy from the anesthesia but he seemed to recognize me. He wagged his tail and walked over to me and cuddled into me as I crouched down. To this day, I still think that Augie and I made an instant connection when we first visited in a small room at the shelter. He knew and I knew that we would be pals.
On the ride home, he was visibly timid and unsure. He sat on the front seat, curled up and kept making eye contact with me looking for a sign. I took my sunglasses off so that he could see into my eyes and know that everything was going to be OK. It would be a while before he would trust me but I tried to reassure him that we were going to have a lot of fun together. And we did. After getting to know each other we became inseparable. He went everywhere with me, including work, road trips, camping, and anywhere else the wind blew us. He was not only a great travelling companion but he seemed to understand me and would comfort me when I seemed upset or stressed. We were quite the pair.
A year went by with just the two of us enjoying life and then I met Carrie, a veterinarian of all people. I had to run it by Augie and during our first official date, she fell in love, with Augie. Good thing I had him because I really liked her. Augie seemed to gel well with Carrie and his approval was important to me. He had good judgement which I came to rely on and when he was uneasy with someone it was significant.
Carrie and I went on to get married and Augie was the “Best Dog” in our wedding. We tied our rings to his collar and he brought them down the aisle to us. It was a beautiful day and having Augie there with us meant the world to us both, and I imagine him too.
We had only been married a year before Carrie was pregnant. Augie became her great protector and looked after her with more care and intensity than he had ever in the past. While she was pregnant we would take long walks with Augie and we would day dream about family life and wonder if we were going to have a girl or a boy. We imagined that either way, Augie would be a great big brother.
Then tragedy struck and our lives were dismantled beyond belief. With Carrie due in only eight weeks, Augie became very sick. Always known to have somewhat of a sensitive stomach we dismissed the initial signs but as the day went on Carrie thought she should run him to the clinic for some routine analysis. It turned out that Augie was very sick with Leptospirosis and needed to get to an emergency clinic immediately.
He spent the night at the hospital and we went back first thing in the morning only to find out that his kidneys had shut down and that he wasn’t responding to the treatments they had been administering. He looked miserable and we decided to take him home to be comfortable.
He perked up a little at home but then faded again and we came to the painful and unavoidable conclusion that we were going to have to put him down. We had done all that we could and it wasn’t working so we needed to help him leave his pain. Carrie went to her clinic and brought home a solution that looked like window cleaner. I spent some time out in the backyard with Augie and finally, he looked me in the eyes with a look that said, “let’s do this.”
So we took him upstairs to his fluffy bed next to ours and he laid down as if he knew what to do. We made sure he was OK and then Carrie put the needle into him and we pulled it together. It was the most painful thing I have ever done in my life. He was truly a unique dog and will always have a special place in our hearts. His chance at a second life was my beginning.
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