Friday, January 28, 2011

Lucky dogs and luckier people

When Cal Ripken was in the midst of breaking Lou Gerhig's consecutive games streak in baseball, I remember watching a show about Gerhig. The part I recall most was about his disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and death. Most people die within three to five years after the onset of the symptoms of ALS, but Gehrig died just two years after retiring. The announcer of that show I watched marveled at Gehrig's will, suggesting that he played at least one year, maybe more with ALS.

The show came to mind this week because two friends lost their dogs.

One dog was a service dog who doted on his partner, kind of the polar opposite of Claren. We'd go to dog play dates and I would not see Claren till she was taken out of the fenced-in area with all the dogs. The model service dog played for maybe five minutes, then he wanted to get back to his partner and keep an eye on her. I was always kind of jealous. He retired less than a year ago, and with his responsibility lifted maybe he realized he was not feeling so great himself.

The other dog collapsed one night, and at the vet my friends learned that he was quite sick even though he hadn't been showing it. I am sure that he did not care he felt rotten -- his people were with him. What could be better?

Claren spent a weekend a few years ago running and running. I gave her the day off to recover, and about midday Mom called and said she was worried because Claren could scarcely walk down the ramp. I got a vet appointment later that day, and when Mom and Claren showed up at the office to pick me up, Claren seemed to recover as soon as she saw me. I felt kind of silly going to the vet, but they checked her out. I am sure her legs still hurt, but her person made it better.

Despite what he referred to as his "bad break," Lou Gerhig called himself "the luckiest man on the face of this earth" in his farewell speech to fans. I think dogs with good people would say the same thing ... well except they might say they were "the luckiest dogs on the face of the earth."

It's people like me, and anyone with a dog who loves them, though, who are really lucky.


jess said...

Matt, thank you for this. With tears in my eyes, I couldn't agree more. We are so sad to be without him now, even as we tell each other stories and remember how wonderful he was to us so we can focus on how much we had instead of how much we've lost. What a gift, a blessing dogs are to we who love them so much and who are loved by them.

Adam said...

You couldn't be more accurate, Matt. We were the lucky ones... to have our wonderful pets, to have the ability to appreciate them, love them, take care of them, feel their fur, smell their ... ahem ... smells. And that constant and unyielding companionship is perhaps most meaningful. They'll be missed, but certainly not forgotten.

Matt Trott said...

I never had a dog before Claren, but now I can't imagine not having a dog again.

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