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a Eulogy of sorts

14 Apr

(click on petey)
Outside1.jpg (720054 bytes)

Back in the spring of 1995, Holly and I were attending the senior’s banquet for my college. It’s not a big school and there were few enough graduates that at one point, a microphone was passed around to all the graduating seniors to announce their plans after graduation. Different people proudly shared about their new positions or internships, wedding plans and or impending birth announcements. When the microphone got to me, I mentioned that I’d be working while Holly finished her degree and excitedly declared that we were going to be getting a dog. We’d just moved into a different apartment with such atrocious carpet, we were able to negotiate the allowance of a small pet.

A day or two later, one of our professors, approached Holly and asked if we’d found our new pet yet. When she informed him that we planned to visit the local animal shelter and hadn’t got around to it yet, Dr. Isom suggested that we might consider adopting their six month old dachshund named Patches.

Apparently, Patches displayed an inordinate need for attention which caused a lot of problems for the Isom family. Their son, Kevin, who was only like 3 or 4 at the time, would get upset when Patches would grab his toys and takeoff running. Mrs. Isom would try to catch Patches and simply couldn’t (it’s surprising how quickly those short little legs maneuver…) So, when Dr. Isom would finally get home and eventually Patches would let himself be caught, he’d roll over on his back and pee to show his submission to Dr. Isom. This was proving even more of a problem because the Isom’s had just moved into a new home with all cream colored carpeting….

Dr. Isom suggested that we take Patches home for a night and see how we got along and Holly agreed that would be a great idea.

When Patches came over, I think we all knew within about 10 minutes that he was home to stay.

The first thing to deal with would be that name. Small brown patches of fur around his mouth and on his toes highlighted his dark black short-haired coat. I can only assume this observation led to Kevin’s naming the puppy Patches. Holly had heard somewhere that if you want to change a dog’s name, you should try to at least to maintain the same first consonant. We brainstormed for just a little while, and I don’t remember who first said, “Petey,” but the name stuck immediately. The Shacklett family grew from 2 to 3.

We quickly realized that Petey’s behavioral issues stemmed from that fact that he needed to give and receive lots of attention. As a young married couple, we had lots of love and affection to give.

That first year, although the apartment was really crappy, we had a little yard, and it was located just a block away from the city park. We loved putting Petey on his leash and taking him to the various arts festivals that were held in the park all the time. Numerous people would fawn over him and comment on what a friendly, good looking dog he was. We enrolled Petey in obedience school and we so proud to find that (by our own observation,) that he was easily the smartest, best behaved, most amazing, and obviously most good looking dog in his class.

We were always a family. It wasn’t like he was Holly’s dog or my dog. He never showed in inclination that he favored one of us over the other. He snuggled with both of us and played with both of us. He loved getting to ride in the car and endured long road trips to and from gig weekends better than I do.

Of course, there were things we wished were different about him. Obsessive licking, severe separation anxiety, IBS and the puking….

What I want to remember and never forget is how much joy Petey brought to our family. One time, shortly after Petey came to live with us, a friend of Holly’s said, “Derek seems so much happier now. I guess he really needed a dog…”

Petey was the best at just being there. If either of us were ever sick, he decided that it was his job to sit and cuddle and try to just offer his support. If I was ever grumpy or depressed about whatever, Petey was always glad to see me and ready and willing to love me unconditionally.

Last Thursday, I dropped Petey off at the vet to get his teeth cleaned as we headed out of town. That afternoon the vet called and said that complications with his IBS had caused some major problems when he was coming out of the anesthesia. The vet said it was really bad and that they were watching him and doing all they could do, but that he didn’t know if Petey would make it. About 6pm that evening, the vet called again and said that Petey was gone.

It is amazing at how much of a presence is missing in our house from a 12 lb. wiener dog. Every time the doorbell rings, Petey’s not freaking out at the door. Every time I leave the house, I catch myself thinking I need to let Petey out. Every time I’m out of the house I catch myself thinking that I need to get home to let him out. We’re both still prone to crying fits, and the house just feels so empty.

It’s so hard to understand and describe the relationship that develops between humans and dogs. I can’t describe how much I loved that little dog in spite of how much he was able to frustrate me at the same time.

In the story of the Velveteen Rabbit, a stuffed rabbit became real because he was so loved by a little boy. Conventional thought is that animals are not like humans and that their spirits are not eternal as many believe humans’ to be. It would be nice to think that a Petey could be so loved that we’d be with him again someday. And of course, he’d be perfect and wouldn’t puke or lick anymore.

We love you, Petey. We miss you terribly.

If you knew Petey, feel free to add memories of his antics or particular characteristics.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2005 in Uncategorized

 

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