A Damned Good Dog

Athens, Georgia

A little after 1:00 a.m., the Girl Child returned from Texas. She came in to see Licorice, lying between my wife and me. I don’t think I slept much after that, neither did Licorice. By morning, we knew. The narcotics weren’t managing her pain, she was tucked up against me for hours and I just kept whispering to her, hoping the pain we were about to experience was greater than what she was feeling.

We woke the kids and everyone got some time holding her on the couch, then we made that quiet ride to the vet hospital here in town. A few minutes in the lobby, then they took her back. They brought us to the comfort room, brought her in, bundled up in a polka dotted blanket. The IV line was in her leg.

I was hesitant to get a dog 12 years ago. We had a complicated, newly blended family. I’m a believer in simplifying things, I was struggling with being a parent and a husband, I wasn’t sure how this little black rescue would fit in.

Never in my life have I been more wrong. Licorice was exactly the dog we needed. She was loving, gentle, loyal, playful. She defended us fiercely from the UPS Delivery Brigade attacks and thrashed every stuffed toy as she performed dozens of emergency squeakerectomies. Our daughter taught her how to sneeze on command by asking her if she had a cold. And if you followed it up with, “Oh no – is it swine flu?” she’d lie down and play dead.

Terribly inappropriate, but a favorite trick when we had company.

She loved our camping adventures and was always game for a long walk. She hated car rides, though – shivered to the point you thought she was going to scramble her little walnut-sized brain.

The last few months, she slowed. Had a hard time jumping up on the couch and bed, her time as Leaping Licorice was over. She quivered and stumbled, she developed vision issues. We made as many vet appointments as we could but, in the end, we had to do the right thing for her.

Thanksgiving morning. Just like a few months ago, a sedative went in and she settled. Then something to stop her heart. A moment later, she was gone.

I’m shocked at how big a hole a 13 pound dog can punch in a heart.

As we waited, I got one last whale eye look from The One True Dog. Apples will never taste as sweet again, girl. Rest, as last, pal. You saved us from more than you’d ever understand, I hope we brought you as much joy as you brought us.

Athens, Georgia