Pets aren’t people. Puppies aren’t babies. Kittens aren’t children. They are animals. That’s it. Maybe that’s why I was only mad for about 15 minutes when I came home from a summer in Florida to find out our first dog (Spike) was dead. Apparently, he had succumb to a puppy cold turned deadly virus. The truth: he got a cold and my daddy had him put down. Or he let him go in the country, per the Holder tradition. The logic was simple: medicine is for people, not puppies. Once a dog of ours starts requiring more than annual shots, he gotta go. They’re always boys.
I held this sentiment when we brought O.C. home from the sidewalk in front of K-Mart. (It wasn’t really summer in The South if there weren’t families selling puppies in front of stores on Saturdays.)The cutest little mutt in the cardboard box marked “Free Puppies”. Well, they said we was a Labrador and Chow mix – whatever. He was ours. Looking back, I should’ve known that this would be different from Spike when we named him. O.C. (Over Comer – daddy’s pick) Tyson (Brittney’s pick that daddy vetoed) Watson (Brandi’s boyfriend’s last name) Holder. Dog had more names than me. Another tell-tale sign: We let him sleep inside for his first few weeks. Fun times. I wish I could remember how long we had him.
I do remember having to channel my inner ninja to get from the car to the house without O.C. squeezing in the door and hightailing it to the corner under Brandi’s bed. I remember holding him like a baby and dropping him on the concrete edge of the driveway. I felt so bad. He didn’t come to me for a day or two. I remember him hating his leash with a passion, so we pretty much let him roam free – benefit of having half an acre of back yard. He used to go annoy the dog next door who would never react. Dude had to be at least 207 in dog years, poor guy. I remember him running down the street to greet us as we walked from the bus stop. And I remember him getting hit by that minivan after we drove off to school that morning.
I’d never seen anything die before. Well, bugs. But nothing that mattered to me. I saw him twitch. And then nothing. I watched my dad gather his body into a trash bag and set it on top of the pile that was already waiting to be picked up. How convenient for your dog to die on trash day. I remember crying through first block – science for the smart kids. I hated that class.
I’m sure that I subconsciously vowed to never again own a pet that day. Because somehow they weasel their way out of the pet zone and into my heart. And I might not be able to continue the family tradition.