ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN: Some Just Take Longer
Originally written July 8, 2008
I still remember the day: at the ripe old age of 21 I decided that despite being a full-time student during the day with a full-time waitressing job at night, I wanted more responsibility. Realizing that I wasn't mature enough to be a mom, a dog would be the next best thing. My husband Tom and I had been dating about a year and he reluctantly drove me to the local Humane Society to begin my search. It didn't take long for me to find the most pitiful and saddest looking dog among the bunch. While most dogs were yelping and jumping spastically in their cages like teens on Ecstasy at a Rave, Newton (I've changed his name to protect his identity) sat there shaking like a leaf. He looked like Oliver fricking Twist - I half expected him to look up at me with his brown puppy dog eyes and say, "I want some more please". I chose him partly because of his sweet demeanor and mostly because he was the only dog in the joint not barking his ass off. I would soon realize this was all a ruse.
I brought him home and soon discovered that at a year old, Newton had never been taught to climb stairs or been allowed on a bed or a couch. This would all change, but first I had to go to work. Newton was given food and water, a pat on the head and promptly left alone, where he proceeded to bark continually for the next 8 hours. Our neighbors were not happy to say the least. Within 3 days I received a letter that said it was the dog or I: one of us had to go. I arranged for him to spend days and a few nights a week at a friends house (with a yard) until my lease was up. In the meantime, Newton didn't hesitate in destroying the carpet (and every carpet since) with his supercharged urinie. Sorry Mr. Landlord.
17 years later (at the age of 18!) Newton is still growing strong. Well, maybe "strong" isn't the best word, but he's still around. Over the years he has had countless brushes with death including some doozies such as:
- Eating half of a 12-inch Jack Daniels Chocolate Ganache cake, which he dug out of the trash after the guests at my party were unable to stomach it's richness. He promptly threw up a black oil-like substance all over my white Berber carpet. Amazingly he was fine.
- Escaping from my many yards no fewer than 50 times over the years. A virtual canine Houdini, Newton was able to break out of almost any block fence by digging intricate tunnels that were always undetected by the human eye.
- Being caught by the Dog Catcher (in 4 different cities) and thrown in the slammer approximately 6 times (I graciously paid his bail each time and lectured him accordingly).
- Running away during a torrential monsoon - disappearing for 52 hours, only to return hungry, looking like the Swamp Thing and smelling like rotting eggs.
- Sprinting down Frank Sinatra Blvd. (one of the busiest streets in Palm Springs) dodging cars like he was in the live version of Frogger video game.
- Most recently surviving a $1700 procedure at the vet's office (in an effort to make him comfortable as his spine slowly disintegrates eventually morphing him into an invertebrate) only to come home and eat a half of a block of rat poison hidden in the hedge (oops!) The rat poison had no effect.
He has been with me through my wedding, the birth of 2 children and 10 moves. Today Newton is deaf, partially blind and has breath that smells not unlike a corpse that has been rotting in a sewage filled swamp for the past 6 months. I'm pretty sure he's lost most feeling in his back legs as he occasionally sits in a position that makes origami look simple. Every once in a while a round Whopper-like poop just falls out of his ass with no warning. My dad has nicknamed him "Methuselah" and suggested I send his body to Harvard for testing when he dies.
I know he doesn't have much time left, but he still enjoys life. He's clearly not in any pain, still begs for steak like Amy Winehouse in a crack den and occasionally takes flying leaps in the air-- often crashing into a wall or potted plant. He is the George Burns of the dog world and I will dearly miss him when he is gone.