My parents have very close friends who recently lost their dog, unexpectedly. The kids and I were at a family picnic celebrating a graduation of some sort (with so many kids, I forget) and we happened to run into them.
Literally, I tripped over air and nearly dropped a whole platter of chicken salad sandwiches.
So, I took my cousin’s advice, put the food down and decided it was probably safer to strike up a conversation with Mr. and Mrs. T.
I was wrong.
They asked how our Doofus-dog was doing and after I finished telling them about all of the Doofus-type things he’s managed to do (and eat) they seemed almost as surprised, as I was, to learn that he wasn’t dead, yet.
"If the chocolate doesn’t kill him, my husband will…he’s lucky to be alive, really…so, you looking for a dog?"
Mrs. T. started getting all teary-eyed and she nearly dropped her cigarette.
"I mean…oh, Jeez…I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to make you sad."
I immediately changed the subject and asked if they knew of a good doctor in the neighborhood, who could help surgically remove my size 9 foot from my even BIGGER mouth!
"Even though he IS such pinhead, Doofus is an important part of our family and I know how much you must miss Coco."
Personally, I hated the dog.
Okay, so this is the part where, if I had a penis, I would have to ask you to call me an insensitive prick.
It was a high maintenance hairy little bugger and the dog had more toys, grooming products and scheduled hair appointments than, you know, my kids and I did…do…whatever.
On the other hand, Mrs. T.’s children are grown now and ALL of her grandchildren live out-of-state. Pets and children are very humanizing and I guess it’s hard for her to get used to NOT taking care of, well, something.
"I don’t want to go home!"
Me, not so much.
"It’s fun staying at mama’s and papa’s house."
Because, they are NOT your parents!
"Yes…I know…but, it’s time to go home and we haven’t seen daddy all weekend!"
Because, the man hasn’t had a weekend to himself in…well, weeks…I told my husband Garth (not his real name) to stay home, or call on one of his friends and go out for a, you know, daddy playdate.
"So, did you have fun at the car races?"
Imagine my surprise to learn that he decided to stay home and build a rabbit fence for my vegetable garden, instead!
Yes, I hate rabbits, but — short of shooting the little old lady next door for constantly feeding the little suckers – I’m sure tjat my neighbor doesn’t care for our pets getting into her yard, either and I trust that the new fence will certainly help in keeping the peace, at least.
But, then I saw the hole in my cat.
"Hon, come here…QUICK!"
It was an ugly, round and about the size of a large BB.
"Look, what the hell happened to Old Man?"
No, I don’t sit around and imagine my 98 year-old-neighbor shooting my cat, but it sure as hell looked like someone did and I had a hard time trying NOT to believe it.
The vet at the emergency hospital, not so much.
"It looks more like a bite."
In fact, she went on to say it wasn’t a new wound and looked more like an abscess and probably festering for a while (you’re welcome) because, the tissue around it was totally dead, too.
[eyes go wide]
"Are you sure?"
"I mean, how didn’t we notice this?!?"
Yes, I was very upset — the poor old man — we’ve been taking really good care of him, I swear, and it would be almost easier to take, if I continued to believe someone shot my cat and that it was probably one of our nutty neighbors!
Even though she did laugh, the vet seemed to have a hard time understanding why I was making such a big deal out of this.
[eyes go wide]
"Do you have any children at home, Mrs. Thompson?"
"Um…yes…they’re home…why?…I mean, we have 4 kids…but, they’re with a babysitter…I mean…my oldest daughter is watching them…she’s 14…I mean…until Grandma and Grandpa get there…uh…yes, they’re home."
I buried my face in my hands.
"No, sweetie, don’t get upset…all I meant is…well, these things are sometimes very easy to miss… and you already seem to have your hands full."
Yes, the vet was soooo right — I mean, she is a mom with 3 kids — but, what I failed to tell her is that my grandmother gave us this cat, made me promise that I would take very good care of him and then she died!
I mean, not right then and there.
Still, my grandmother’s cat is fine and — although, they did have to surgically remove a rather large portion of his butt and the poor thing has to wear a collar that makes him look like a cone head — he’s a tough old man!
Nope, there’s nothing more humanizing than having to stay up most of the night, with your pet, and enlisting your children to help take care of keeping a promise.
Watching (and hearing) the poor cat walk into things and then laughing our asses off, not so much.