A Special Tribute Part 3
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I tend to think that it’s the humans with the learning problem. Take for instance my oldest son during his college days. He’d come home sometimes late at night and I’m sure exhausted from a long day of brain exercising. He might stop and grab a dinner to go and come in, put his dinner on the bar and go to his room to change clothes and put up his things. I know that I had told him at least a hundred times not to sit his food too close to the edge as it usually smelled so good and K just couldn’t resist the aroma sometimes. In his defense, there were only a handful of times that he grabbed food off the table or bar. Almost every time it happened though, it was with my oldest son, always falling for the same old dog trick. When I heard him scolding K and telling him he was a “bad dog” it was almost always over food. My son lost a few very good meals that way and K gobbled down some expensive food in a matter of seconds. He would put his head down and act all sorry, but underneath I could tell he was glad he had made a quick decision. A couple of times I actually thought I saw a grin flash across his face.
What was so interesting to me over the years was to watch how he interacted with each of us differently. He instinctively seemed to know what each of us would put up with and what he needed to do to get what he wanted from us individually. We all fell for the look at my empty bowl acting part quite a few times. I would notice that he would start putting on weight and then question who was giving him what…sometimes we were feeding him six times a day! When he thought we weren’t looking he’d eat the cat’s food and I would have to scold him, which would work for a day or two at the most.
There are so many stories that I could write about him but it would take a book to tell them all. One of the most heartbreaking stories happened when he was about 5 years old. My husband had been sick but none of us realized how sick he really was. He checked into a hospital with pneumonia and it was discovered that he had a rare bone cancer. It was already in the final stages and he passed away just three weeks after checking in. Of course all my family and friends rallied around and I was fortunate to have so many during that time. But there was nothing that consoled me like throwing my arms around my furry friend and crying my eyes out, except doing the same with my sons (only they weren’t furry). He sensed something was very wrong and you could tell that he grieved with us for our loss. He seemed to know that I needed extra attention and he started coming in my room and sleeping beside my bed. He did that for several months and then without any direction from me he started sleeping in the hall right outside my bedroom door. As the lock didn’t work on my door, he would always push the door open, check to see that I was okay and then lay down to sleep. He did this every night until the day he died.
I was so fortunate to have my sons through this very dark time in my life and fortunate to be able to take some comfort that only a pet can offer. It is truly amazing the effect that a dog, cat, or other pet can have on helping a person heal emotionally.