Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Losing a Friend

Cupid (1991 - 2005)

I still have a pretty vivid recollection of the day Cupid came into my life and family, which happened on Monday, February 10, 1992. I was fourteen years old, a freshman in high school. Having had a rough day at school, I was lying on the couch when my dad got home from work. He asked if I wanted to go get a dog. A friend of his had a dog who had just had puppies, and we had been offered one if we wanted to come pick one out. I wasn't inclined to go anywhere, but Dad kept asking, and finally he insisted. So I got in the van and we headed to his friend's house out in the country.

We were led out into the yard when we got there, and we found a mass of squirming puppies frolicking on the grass. I don't remember how many there were, probably seven or eight, all of which were mottled brown and white...except for one yellow one which immediately caught my attention. The guy who owned the dogs said I could have whichever one I wanted, but I was a little hesitant to take the only one that was different. After a few minutes of trying and failing to pick out another one, though, I finally asked if we could have the yellow one. A few minutes later we were loading her into the recycling bin we had brought along and putting her in the van.

I deliberated over a name for her for a while. I can't remember any of the other possibilities I had in mind, but we finally settled on "Cupid" since it was just a few days before Valentine's Day. I'm not particularly sentimental about Valentine's Day, nor was I then, but it just seemed to fit (even though the original Cupid was male). This was occasionally shortened to "Cupe," and as she got bigger and rounder, she also picked up the nicknames "Fatty," "Chubs," and my personal favorite, "Chubbalicious."

For the first few days we had her, all she did was follow me around the house. I remember thinking that it would be pretty annoying if it continued, but it didn't. Actually, as Cupid grew out of her puppy stage, she really wasn't much of a people person. Sure, she'd come to investigate whenever someone new came in the door, but after an obligatory bark and sniff, she was more than content to go lie under the table and leave them alone. If someone (besides me) would go seek her out, she'd allow herself to be petted for a few minutes, and then she'd go find somewhere else to hang out.

It's amazing, really, how loyal Cupid remained to me. I left for college shortly after I turned eighteen, and she wasn't quite four yet. I was home for some weekends and then for summers, and I came home for a little over a year after I graduated college. Then I moved out for good and haven't really been back for an extended period since then. Still, there's no question that she remained my dog. If I sat on the floor, she'd come sit next to me and lick my face; she'd let me lie down next to her and put my head on her belly. I don't think she would have done those things for anyone else. I'm just amazed that she continued to remember me so well when I essentially wasn't there for so long.

I've been home twice in the past few weeks, and I knew she probably wasn't going to live a whole lot longer (although I didn't expect it to come nearly this soon). She had lost most of her hearing--she didn't come to greet me at the door anymore because she couldn't hear me come in--and she was having trouble going up and down the stairs. At fourteen years old, she was pretty old for a dog. I got the call from Mom last night, and she said they had to have her put down. She had been getting sick, so they had taken her to the vet, who had found a tumor on her liver. He thought he could get it out, but when he opened her up to do so, he found that it was too much. He told my parents he could just close her up and she'd live a little while longer that way, but they chose not to let her suffer. As much as I would have loved to see her one last time, I'm glad they let her go. I couldn't bear the thought of my friend suffering for even just a few days--and that's probably all it would have been. I'm sad that I didn't get a chance to say goodbye, but that would have been too much to ask.

On the bright side, I'm glad that I was home a couple of times recently and got to spend at least a little bit of time with her. She was a good dog, and a good friend. It's going to be very strange to come home without her there waiting for me. While I'm sure I'll get used to it, I'm not looking forward to doing so.

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