I had planned to write today’s piece on yesterday’s excursion to the library; however, my heart is heavy on another subject. The library will just have to wait until tomorrow. Today, I want – no, I need – to talk to you about a friend of mine, our Labrador retriever, Trey.
I got the dog for Jaegar for Christmas the year my son was eleven. I had told him that we would not be getting another animal until my cat Isabeau died; but, since it didn’t look like Satan wanted her back, I caved and got him the puppy while she was still patrolling the house hissing and spitting. I had grown up with several dogs and a couple of cats, and I thought that every boy should grow up with a dog. So, a friend of a friend found this 2004 Christmas puppy in Lafitte, Louisiana, way down in the swamp. My son took one look at the wiggling black pup and dubbed him Blackie. (Skreech! Um, no. We are not having a black dog named Blackie. How boring!) I encouraged Jaegar to come up with a different name for the little guy and my son, being a huge Calvin and Hobbes fan, came up with Tracer Bullet after Calvin’s film noir alter ego. We called him Trey for short.
This adorable little puppy was a complete nightmare. He was impossible to housetrain and had horrible separation anxiety. In his crate, he would whine all night long. He alone has convinced me to never, never, NEVER again have a baby dog. That baby dog was nearly as much work as a baby human! The cat hated him. In spite of it all, he was pretty cute and I loved watching the boys wrestle around the floor or snuggle up to watch a movie. I was about at my wit’s end with him, though, until we found an obedience class. That helped tremendously! Well, it helped if I got the commands right. I worked with the dog for hours on forward, about turn, heel, stay, place (which he never really got) and halt. Halt, I said, not stop.
One night, I took our trash out and the 10-month-old Trey followed me in the fenced in yard. I pulled the gate to, but didn’t latch it since I was only going to be out there a few seconds and, besides, he always followed me along the fence line to the trash can, anyway, right? Wrong. He nosed the gate open, got out and ran for it. Oh, what fun! He had a game of chase on! Me, standing there yelling “stop!” Him racing down the alley towards Robert E. Lee Blvd. I’ll make a long story short. He made it across three of the four lanes of the road before a car hit him. The poor driver, who turned around when he heard me screaming, never saw this black pup at 9:45 that night. He knew he had hit something and he heard the screams; so, he came back. Wonderful man!
Three vet clinics, two surgeries and a week later, Trey came home. He had a broken leg, two broken ribs, a broken pelvis, a perforated diaphragm and a broken tooth. His game of chase was a very expensive one. Several people reminded me that it would have been cheaper to put him down and get another puppy. I couldn’t do that though – for two reasons: 1:. it was my fault he got out, and 2. he wasn’t crippled or brain-damaged. So, I paid through the nose and have been rewarded with a wonderful companion for ten years.
Recently, the pins used to repair his broken leg had to be removed since the femoral head they were anchored in had dissolved and the pins were painfully backing out into Trey’s muscle. He effectively has no joint for his right hind leg. His left hip is damaged to the point that it can’t really pull up the slack anymore; so, the old man is hardly able to get around. He has started urinating all over the house again for whatever reason; so, he has to sleep in the hated crate again. He still whines when he’s in there. I let him into the back yard each morning where he stays, lying in the leaves until it’s time for dinner. But, last night, he ate little of that and didn’t whine once after I put him in the crate, leading me to believe that my old friend is nearing the rainbow bridge. He is in great pain and I know that it will soon be time to help him cross that bridge – it will be my last loving act for this puppy, this dog, this old man who has been so precious to us.
And it breaks my heart.