So many canine stories! Every one of them seems to be either about asshole dogs, asshole dog owners, or the radius of brainmatter a dog can toss across a wooden area. I've decided to go in a different direction.
Brace yourselves, folks. A dog story that doesn't end with a carcass. (At least not right away.)
This story takes place in a tumultuous time know as 1998. Former President Bill Clinton discovered the nasty side-effects of letting a yetti's mouth near one's dick, France won the World Cup (that still burns me), the film Titanic was on a record setting voyage through theatres (I think the actual ship sank faster than the run-time of that piece of cinematic poop), parts of Canada were struck-down by a giant-ass winter storm that locked many major cities in a deep-freeze and rendendered them power and waterless for days and weeks, George Michael jerks off infront of a cop in a washroom, Papua New Guinea loses 2,000 persons to a tsunami, Google was first launched, Frank Sinatra passed away and Sonny Bono showed the world why one should never...EVER....play chicken with a tree while skiing.
I was but a plucky young lad of sixteen at the time. My life was more or less dominated by watching television shows, going to the movies, attending school, trying to touch boobies, getting people to buy me smokes and booze, and working part-time at a shitty fast food joint. This was the "year of death" as it came to be known in my family. All in all, 1998 saw a lot of branches of the family tree up and keel over. My great-grandmother, grandmum and grandpa all died that year, along with an assortment of lesser-known great-aunts and distant cousins. But the 'big three' were the grandparents. My grandfather was the last holdout on getting aboard the good-time express to death. He managed to stave off the cancer for a few months, but it eventually got a hold of him. As with most deaths involving family, my dad and aunt were left to sort out the belongings. The house went up for sale, furniture and assortments were either picked-over or donated, keepsakes were collected and paperwork was done. My grandfather had only two requests when he died: (1) make sure his dog went to a good home, and (2) keep that damn gnome outta the coffee tin. (I'm pretty sure that last one might have been tumor related.)
Everything was handled, grieving was done, and by the five-month marker of his death, everything had pretty well returned to normal. My father and I took one last trip up North to where they lived (a six hour drive in the fucking winter!) to give the ol' house a once-over before the new owner's took posession at the end of the year. We stopped for gas at a station before making it to the homestead, and that's when I saw ol' Boots..my grandfather's dog...tied-up outside to a giant metal pole. Apparently, the guy who my dad gave the dog to was a bit of a lying sack of shit. He said he wanted a nice family dog; turns out all he really wanted was a cheap alarm for the station. Boots was a Huskie, beautiful coat of white and brown-spotted fur. He was now almost completely grey and black, stained from god-knows what for god-knows how long, thin and obviously very cold, hungry and alone. I showed my dad the dog, and he confirmed it was Boots. (He even recognized the owner inside as the guy who came and got him.) I got pretty pissed and upset. This poor dog who lost both owners was now living out the remained of his days (not long from the look of 'em) chained to a pole at a gas station. I protested, but my father said there was nothing that could be done. Off we drove to the old house not far away.
I pestered my dad for the next two days about Boots, but he stood firm. We'd already had a dog at home. Boots was this guy's dog now. Finally, on our last night there, I decided to do something about the situation. While my dad was off at the neighbour's down the way (he grew up with the guy or something) I decided that Boots needed to be liberated. I phoned my dad and told him I was going to take the car to the corner store for cigarettes. He was half in the bag and catching-up, so he said sure. Off I went to the gas station, only to find it closed. I parked at the side, got out of the car, and went to the rear where we'd seen Boots a few days before. He was right where we'd left him last...still chained to that fuckin' pole with a slight lean-to type shelter set-up for him, a bowl of kibble and a semi-frozen bowl of water. He recognized me immediatedly and started yelping and wagging his tail.
I'd love to tell you I was the man of the hour here, grabbing the dog and making a Paul Newman style exit. That didn't happen exactly. I paced and smoked, pet the dog and mulled over what to do. Almost an hour passed beofre I made up my mind. Sobbing like a little girl, I managed to unlatch his colar and lead him to the car. No turning back now, I guess. As was expected, my dad was pissed about my "borrowing" the dog back. He yelled at me for a few minutes, but we both knew he wasn't going to make me take him back. The next morning, we locked up, forever saying goodbye to the grandparent's old place, and headed back home with an extra passenger.....after a series of baths and brushing, of course. (He was filthy.)
I'm happy to report that Boots lived to the rip old age of seventeen years...ten with my grandparents and seven with me. He died peacefully in his sleep a few years ago, warm and safe and loved. He was a fantstic dog, and a great friend. (To think that we almost left him there to suffer at that station.) I buried Boots out near this local creek area we used to go fishing at all the time, giving him a real resting place far away from the smells of rubber and gasoline. I figured he'd smelled enough of that shit for a lifetime.
So that's my dog story. Sure, it ended with a carcass, but when its a story about pets, it inevitably always will. This might not be as entertaining as shit getting fed to reptiles, shit getting their heads removed from their bodies, or, well, shitting on shit....but I still think its a nice addition to the dog craze sweeping the joint. Hope you did too.
Thanks for reading,
-The Big Bad