There is nothing like the relationship with a dog. There is never a question whether I’m enough or not. I never smell too bad. I always look perfect. I swear, my dog knows when something is wrong. He can tell when I’m sad or hurting or if something is not right with the world. And he sides up to me. He sits next to me as if to say, “I’m glad you’re here.”
I have heard people doubt the connection between a person and their dogs. I have heard people say, “It’s not like they’re human,” and no, my dog is not human. Besides, humans aren’t as loyal.
I have a dog. He is an old dog and the last of the original three. He is my special boy and we named him Brody. And Brody is 14 to be exact. His hips are bad and so are his knees.
Actually, to be honest, I never really knew that dogs have knees. I didn’t know until Brody blew out his ACL. Afterwards, I found out that dogs do have knees. I found this out in one of the most expensive ways possible. Yes, Brody has cost me more than a few cents. He ate cell phones. He tore up garbage on more than one occasion. As a matter of fact, years ago we used to have a little bird named Woody. He was a green-cheeked conure. He was a little bird. Woody danced and played and although conures are not known for talking, Woody knew how to say “Brody!” because Brody was always getting into something. We said “Brody!” so much that Woody learned to say “Brody!” too.
Woody was a good little bird.
Unfortunately, Woody passed away. He wasn’t with us very long but regardless of how long we had Woody, Brody knew who Woody was. I know this because I buried Woody in the backyard of our home. We said goodbye and then went inside. A short while later, Brody came to the door in the backyard. Brody was not with us during the burial ceremony. When we saw Brody by the back door. He went out back and dug Woody from the ground. He gently laid Woody on the deck. Brody looked at us with this puppy-like sense of confusion; as if to ask “Why isn’t Woody inside with us?”
I tell you no lie. Brody was a handful. His energy was off the charts. He always got into something. And he always knew when he was in trouble. I could always tell when Brody did something wrong because he would look at me when I came in the door. His face was marked with shame. I would say, “What did you do,” or “Who did this?” in my angry voice after seeing the wreckage in my house. And Brody would run into another room.
Sure, Brody was a handful. He was my special needs, problem child. He was and still is my best friend, trusty companion, and to me, he is like a son.
Brody is old now and I fear we are close to the end. I tell you this is the hardest part of having a dog as a family member. I tell you with all of my heart that yes, I am hurting. I wish I could save him. I wish I could take away his pain, which hurts me because Brody looks to me for help and there is nothing I can do. There is nothing any of us can do (except feel helpless).
On a night when I needed to rest as much as I could because I have three important meetings today, all of which are geared towards a strong professional advancement, unfortunately, Brody had a bad night last night. I am on no sleep whatsoever. He looked to me for help last night. He yelped and cried. His hips and his knees are hurting . He is slow and has a hard time walking. His tail still wags and Brody still eats, which are all good things but still . . .
I picked Brody up and carried him down the stairs last night. I took him outside. I usually talk to Brody and tell him to hold on tight. I tell him that I need him around.
I didn’t say anything like that last night.
I only told him, “I love you.”
I don’t know much about the rainbow bridge. I don’t know where dogs will go in the next life. I remember when we had to put my little girl Roxxy to sleep. This was hard. She was my little girl. Roxxy had me wrapped around her little paw. I remember the vet asked us if I wanted a lock of her hair. He said this to me, as a grown man. As heavily tattooed as I may appear or as tough as I try to portray, I whimpered as if I were a six year-old child. I looked at the vet and said, “I don’t want a lock of her hair. I just want my dog back.”
I didn’t have the “I need you around” conversation with Brody last night. I just kept telling him how much I love him and that he is a good boy. I don’t want to put my feelings on him. That’s not fair. I just want him to know that my life was better because of him. I want Brody to know that when days were tough and it seemed like no one was in my corner, Brody was always there, looking to greet me at the door.
I have memories of times when I was out by the shed in the wooded section of my property. And Brody would come out with me. He would look around. I’m sure he could smell the deer that run through the yard. Brody may be old, but I can still see him eyeing up the squirrels that live in the trees nearby. In moments like this, I’m just a boy with his dog. And nothing else is wrong with the world. We are fine. We’re in the outdoors and Brody is by my side. I suppose in some ways, Brody will always be by my side.
Throughout the years, there have been times when I was laying in bed at night. I go to sleep early and Brody would come with me. I could tell that Brody wanted to go downstairs and see what the rest of the house was up to. He would never leave until after I fell asleep though. Or, sometimes I would tell him, “It’s okay boy. You can go.”
I suppose I’m saying this now.
It’s okay boy. I understand.
I’m not saying Brody can go or anything like that. I’m just saying that I know he’ll have to go soon.
“It’s okay Brody, good boy.”
I love you . . .
Man, of all the things I have exposed and out of all the entries I have written from personal to painful and from violent to tragic, I suppose out of them all, this was the toughest entry to report. And I get it. Not everyone understands, which is fine. Then again, not everyone is fortunate enough to have a dog. Or more accurately, not everyone had Brody in their life. This one hurts.