© 2011 Aaron Atkinson

Knick-knack, paddy whack

I love Indie just as I love and have loved Cana, Kelly and Taffy before her. And inasmuch that I adore them, I am always distantly aware of the fact that one of this world’s greatest shortcomings is that the life of a dog is always too short. And while I’ve got another decade with Indie to enjoy the sweetness and joy that that only the love of a dog can offer, whenever I hear of a fellow dog-lover losing a companion, it tugs at my heartstrings.

I was out to dinner with a handful of vendors from work. My t-bone steak kick-started a conversation about dogs. A well-spoken salesman from Philadelphia named Bill, started in on this story….

Our beagle was 12. We’d had him to the vet the week before Thanksgiving and she told us that it was almost time to put him down as his hind legs had stopped functioning. She told us to schedule an appointment and to let him go while he still had a bit of dignity.

So my wife and I talked and we agreed to make the appointment for the Monday after Thanksgiving. We had a five-day family vacation planned with our three daughters. We were going to visit relatives in California and we decided not to ruin the trip by telling the girls until after the holiday.

My wife called the vet while I called Charlie, a friend of mine. Charlie lived on a few dozen acres outside of town and I asked him if we could bury Buster in a grove of trees at his place. He expressed his condolences, as he’d buried a handful of dogs himself, and quickly agreed.

So with plans in place, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving in Orange County while a neighbor watched Buster in our absence. But just like I knew it would, as our plane touched down in Philly, a lump grew in my throat. We drove home and I didn’t say much. I decided I’d tell the girls once they’d had a chance to settle back into the house. But as we parked in our driveway, and my family raced into the house to greet the Buster, there came a chorus of horrified screams from my three teenage girls.

He must have died while we were gone, I thought to myself as I walked into the house expecting the worst. But instead I  saw a gray-muzzled Buster, tail thumping the floor with all three girls hugging and squeezing and crying over him. I shot my wife a confused look. She waved me over as she pressed button on the answering machine. Having turned down the volume, I could barely hear the message that had accidentally been overheard by my now sobbing girls.

Bill, it’s Charlie. I just wanted you to know that we finished digging Buster’s grave and we’re all ready for him on Monday.

Me: Oh, that had to be rough. What a way to find out.

Bill: Are you kidding! Don’t you realize how much pressure that took off of me? I was off the hook in having to bear the bad news!

I smiled back at Bill. But couldn’t help thinking about Indie back at home. For the first time ever, as dinner concluded I wrapped a few, small leftover pieces of steak in a paper napkin and discreetly tucked them into my jacket pocket.

Life is far to short not to enjoy the occasional t-bone.





  1. Eddie the Q
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:31 pm | #

    What about Cally? Don’t you dare forget my favorite dog! 🙂

  2. Aaron Atkinson
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 1:19 pm | #

    That’s her in photo above. She was a good one!

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