Man's best friend

This column appears in Friday's edition of The Log Cabin Democrat

While listening to The Catholic Channel’s Busted Halo program Wednesday night (weeknights from 6–9 p.m. on Sirius 159, XM 117), a caller brought back pleasant memories.

He was asking about pets, and I fondly remembered my dog Munchkin.

Munchkin was a little black mutt I got when I was four, named after the memorable Wizard of Oz characters (and the names my dad gave to me and my sister). It seemed like I had a love/hate relationship with her throughout her life. When you’re a child, a dog brings so much joy and bliss, much more so than any Nintendo game or E.B. White book. It’s a living, breathing entity whose sole purpose in life is to make you happy. There’s a tail wagging, excited barking, and a slobbery toungue that seemed to greet you each day you came home from school.

You could do anything with your dog, including throwing a tennis ball as hard as you could and counting on it to come right back momentarily, or letting you know when someone came to the door through constant barking. It was the little things Munchkin did that, looking back years later, puts a smile on my face.

There were other times my dog drove me up the wall. In high school, I signed up to sell candy bars for a school fundraiser (the kind with the fantastic prizes that nobody ever won). There was a box of 15 chocolate/caramel bars sitting in a box on top of the table. Munchkin never got on the furniture, so the chocolate should have been safe four feet off the ground.

I could not have been more wrong. I walked into the living room after church to find that she had eaten all 15 bars, and the evidence of her sickness was spread all over the floor.

I think the only times I have been more angry in my life was when the New York Giants beat my New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

But as all dogs do, Munchkin began to age. I’m pretty sure her sight began to disappear, and she soon lost the ability to “hold it” when it came to going to the bathroom.

The caller to Busted Halo was asking about whether he should tell his kids about putting his 12-year-old dog to sleep (the Rev. Dave Dwyer suggested he should, as it would give his 5-year-old sons a chance to say goodbye). I would have given anything to say goodbye to Munchkin. But she died in the fall of 2002, while I was at my freshman year of college.
I’ll never forget my mom calling to tell me that Munchkin died. Apparently (and I’ve never asked for details), it was a hard thing for her to watch.

I’ve read about pets dying growing up. The book ‘Where the Red Fern Grows’ is a sad example of a boy losing his dog. Heck, even the opening of the film “Running on Empty” is depressing. In it, the family is on the run from the police due to the parent’s past crimes, and in the opening scene, the kids open the car door and put the dog in the driveway and drive off.
But with all that “exposure” to losing a pet, nothing prepares you for your mom calling to tell you that it finally happened to you. It fills you with sadness over losing the pet, and regret, for all the times you bypassed playing with her because you were “too busy.”

True, a dog is not a person, and I’ve been blessed that I’ve never dealt with immediate family dying. But a dog can be a member of your family if you show it enough love.

“You never think you’re going to miss animals as much as you do,” Dr. Bob Kelso of the show ‘Scrubs’ said when his dog Baxter died. “Man’s best friend, huh? They got that one right.”

You got that one right, Bobbo. Maybe someday, I’ll get another dog (and a cat too). I’ll get a house with a nice spacious backyard.

You know, so I’ve got enough room to throw tennis balls.

On a completely unrelated note, next week is my last column in The Log Cabin Democrat, as I am taking a job closer to family.


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    About This Blog

    A blog for the masses, if by masses you mean myself and family members who probably read this out of pity.

    I'm dustin Faber, the 16-bit Catholic. This blog is an amusing, sometimes thought-provoking look at my life and the world around me. Poetry, cooking recipes, gaming, faith, things that make me go awww, things that make me go grrr, and my obsession with a good glass of root beer can be found here.

    If you're looking for gaming-centered posts, check out catholicvideogamers.blogspot.com. If you seek the blog I keep with my fiance, check out thecatholiclovebirds.blogspot.com

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