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A Dog's Life

In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:10 KJV

Today I dug a hole for my best friend. The sand was soft and the roots were easily cut but it was the hardest dig I’ve ever had to make. As the shovel bit into the soil I thought about all the years we shared together on this earth. He has been a loyal companion and faithful friend. The love he has given my family was unconditional and constant. Oscar, our Jack Russell, has watched four grandchildren come into the world, and I only wish he could have been there for number five. Karen and I were hoping that he could move into the home we are building in Callahan but that just was not to be. The Lord has decided to take our friend and we are grateful for the years we had him. Regardless, I can’t help thinking that it is too soon. We thought we had a few more years with Oscar.

When we brought him home, over 13 years ago, we did no research on the breed. We thought he was cute and that was good enough. Little did we know we were bringing home a ball of fire. The first few weeks were tough as we adjusted to a Jack Russell’s playfulness and energy. At one point, Karen gave the family an ultimatum, “Either that dog goes or I go!” Oscar, (with help from dad), raised his arm and waved goodbye to my wife. The tension evaporated into a good laugh and Oscar was there to stay.

Memories are what we carry in our hearts when we no longer have the ones we love and our hearts are full of Oscar. His legs were long and made of springs. His energy was inexhaustible. When he played with a ball in the backyard he looked like a rabbit, as he pushed the ball from one end of the yard to the other. Oscar was a ferocious hunter, menacing both lizards and frogs alike. I will never forget the day he chased a red pit-bull out of our yard and up the street. I was sure he was going to be killed. But my favorite memory of my best friend was how he greeted me at the front door. I could have been gone five hours or five minutes, it made no difference to Oscar. He treated me like royalty.

This article is not for you, it is for me. Writers write because it is how we heal. I am hurting deeper for my friend more than I thought possible. I have cried on and off for three days. To watch his breathing shorten and his energy flatten is painful. I will bury him soon. I will place him in his favorite blanket, with his favorite toys and I will say goodbye. Will I see my friend again? I’d like to think so, but regardless, his life has not been wasted. Oscar taught us that love is the most important thing in life and that cuddling trumps talking any day. He taught us to play and play and play until our legs gave out.

They say that the best place to bury your pet is in your heart. I think that’s true. Oscar is so deeply buried in our family’s hearts, that his memory will always be there to make us smile. God has been good to give us our Jack, but right now, it hurts to say goodbye.

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