I’ve never been a dog guy. They’re just not my cup of tea. Dogs are too needy and I’m too selfish a person to dote on them as much as they need it.
But I can absolutely relate to the idea of a dog being man’s best friend, loyal and true, through and through; a part of the family and all that.
I had a dog growing up and it was a part of the family. I played with it and loved it. But somewhere along the line I outgrew dogs.
My Connecticut family — my landlords and their two boys — had a dog up until today.
Maya — a loving and friendly black lab — was put to sleep shortly after four o’clock this afternoon. Age and illness had just become too much for her to live the quality of life that a dog deserves.
The family, as you can imagine, is heart-broken.
Maya came to them in the spring of 2001 and was part of the family ever since. Fourteen years, she was there every day, a family’s best friend.
It’s a loss I can barely fathom because I’ve been lucky enough to have never lost something all that close to me.
As I left my apartment today, they were putting Maya into the car for her final ride. I asked if this is what I thought it was and when they said, “yes” my heart sank.
I wanted to say good-bye. One last pat on the head.
But it wasn’t really my place, so I slunk away, around the back side of the house to my car for the drive into work.
From the gray skies overhead, rain fell to the earth.
I’m not really family, I know that — just extended by way of the Benjamins, Jeffersons and Hamiltons — in the sense that I give them money to live there.
Still, I can’t count how many times over the last nine years Maya would greet me when I got home, or when I walked back from my morning coffee. Or ran a bag of trash from my apartment to the garbage bins.
I’d always stop to take the time and say hello, give her a pat on the head.
She was just a wonderful, loving, care-free dog and I’m going to miss her, too.
I don’t even know if I ever heard her bark a single time, come to think of it.
I do know I stepped on a few of her personal little land mines from time to time. But, what could you do but scrape off your shoe and throw back a punny little, “Oh shit.”
One of the stories I remember the family telling me is that Maya had joined the family when the boys were young. She came to them when the boys were about five and seven years old, respectively.
Kids with their first dog. That’s a righteous thing, you know? As the boys grew, so too did the puppy they all grew to love so much.
Today, the boys are both in college, having grown into young men.
They, too, are reeling with sadness, hearts aching at a loss only dog lovers and dog owners can fully understand and grasp.
The place where Maya slept is empty tonight, the house a little quieter, a little more lonely.
As the pain subsides, though, I hope that family’s hearts are filled with all the memories that Maya was a part of and left behind.
She was a small part of my life for the last nine years and I know I’ll never forget her.
And I’m not even a dog guy.