Today’s a tough day… and I would have never imagined it would be.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned Nemesis-Dog before. Long story short, I wanted a dog and had the opportunity to pick from a group of shelter puppies. They were black lab/pitbull mutts. Each had its own unique coloring and physical features.
I sat on the floor and let then mull around. There was one who seemed to take a shine to me. He had wide, floppy brown ears and almost almost Beagle-like coloring. He looked like the kind you’d see in a children’s book. He was so sweet. He happily trotted over and climbed into my lap. This was my dog.
…unfortunately, I was 13… and my mom liked one of his brothers. “Oh, look, Bobby. This one likes you.” It was a square-skull black/brindle with stiff eats and a snotty attitude. Well, I was a child and she was paying the adoption fees. So, we ended up with the pitlab.
I resented him because he prevented me from being with a true companion. He disliked me because I gave him the cold shoulder. To make things worse, he took a more direct approach with his disdain. He liked to pee on my stuff. The worst was when I bought my first acoustic guitar. He saturated the bag and the receipt. From that day forward, he was my nemesis.
It stayed this way for almost all of our relationship. Then it changed. He got cooler and less aggressive in his old age. When I would make protein smoothies in the morning, I’d set aside a pile of baby carrots for him. I knew that as soon as I crushed the ice, I’d hear his jingling collar and toe nails clicking on the floor. Over the course of about a month, we became buddies.
I’ll cut to the end. He started acting lethargic. One day, he laid on the floor and I sat with him. I called my sister because she adored him. I actually started crying as I explained what was happening. She wasn’t driving, at the time, and didn’t know if she could come see him. So, I went into her old bedroom, grabbed a pair of pajamas and put them next to his head, trying to comfort him.
I hadn’t touched this dog in years, but I wanted to comfort him. I was a germaphobe and didn’t want to get the dog stink on my hands. I actually put a towel over him and pet him through that. I just there for hours until my sister and her boyfriend came over.
When he saw her, his tail wagged a little, but she had to help him up to go for a walk. That was a weekly visit she’d pay to him. They’d take him on a walk around the block and it was his favorite thing. Once he had the leash on him, he seemed to perk right back up. He was slow and he only made it to the end of the block, before turning around.
They stayed for a while but had to get back home. Three days later, he had to be put to sleep. His kidneys failed and he was too old to risk a surgery with a low probability of survival. I wasn’t there. I didn’t want to jinx it. I didn’t deserve to be there. It had to be private for my mom and sister.
I was playing drums when my phone rang. It was my sister giving me an update. She made the call to let him go. She managed to keep it together for the call but she was heartbroken. She has his ashes in a tin next to the three previous dogs’.
I had such mixed feelings. For years, I’d wished this on him because he was such a bastard. I’d only given him a second chance in the last few months. I felt selfish for crying over him. I’d missed out on most of his life because I’d held a grudge. I had one last chance to finally connect with him and I used a towel as a buffer. It was a terrible mix of regret, guilt, and sadness.
I’ve called my sister a few times in the past year to tearfully apologize. She tells me it’s okay and that at least I realized my mistake and accepted him, even if it was too late… but it’ll never be enough. I’m burdening her with an impossible task. I can’t expect her to alleviate a decade’s worth of ill-wishes and mistreatment. I have to wear that black mark on my conscience.
In a weird way, he represents the greatest mistakes I’ve made throughout my life. The grudges, hatred, distrust, and devaluing. He is the face of my guilt and shame. Not a week goes by that I don’t wish I could give him a hug and tell him how sorry I am. I never thought I’d miss him… but I do. Every single day.