Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I would never treat a dog like a person . . .

Fourteen years ago, me, my new bride, and her dog, Chelsea, moved in my father's house at his request. We didn't mind - He needed help and we needed the free rent. The only problem is my dad's attitude was a little old school when it came to dogs. We grew up in the boonies and he had no compulsion against carrying out his policy of shooting all strays. Several times I had to go dispose of "the body" after school.

So . . . I was a little apprehensive about leaving Chelsea all day with my dad. Don't misunderstand - I knew he wouldn't hurt her- he was a good man. I just wasn't sure how attentive he would be to her needs. After all she was "just a dog".

A couple of weeks later, I came home early and heard my dad talking to Chelsea through the window. I remained outside and watched as he called her "his baby" and proceeded to prepare both of them a plate of food. (Even though he knew I didn't want to give her table food.) He filled both their plates with white beans and rice and beef roast. He then poured both of them some milk. His in a glass and hers in a bowl. He put her plate on the table next to his, pulled a chair out for her and they both sat there -at the table-and ate while he periodically let her lick his face.

For the next few years, the man who hated dogs became our daily babysitter for Chelsea. Even after we built our house next door, he would call and ask me to open the door so she could go visit. All I had to do was tell Chelsea "Go see paw paw" and she would run to his house.

Yesterday, I held Chelsea for the last time as she entered her final sleep. I've had many dogs and I can honestly say she was by far the smartest dog I've ever encountered. In fact, smart isn't the right word - it goes beyond that. She was exceedingly brilliant and touched the hearts of those around her. Yes, there have been and will be other dogs, but there has never been and will never be another Chelsea.

Every now and then I'd run across someone who'd say in a condescending tone "You treat that dog like it's a person." Instead of getting mad, I always replied "No, I'd never be that cruel."

Dogs give unconditional love, they never let you down, they never betray you, and they would give their life to defend you.

So you see - I would never treat a dog like a person - because they deserve better than that.

Especially Chelsea -- 1993-2008.

10 comments:

Jerry Pat Bolton said...

On my way back from putting our beloved Fancy "to sleep," I had to pull off the road, where I sat and cried like a child. Gut-wrenching.

Nicole said...

I'm crying, too. I'm so sorry. When we had to put down our last dog (Ezekiel), that was it for me. He was the last dog. I know it's dumb, but I can't speak (or type, I just learned) his name without choking up or cryng outright.

I've never understood people who don't like animals.

Animals were God's first chosen companions for man.

Kay said...

I'm so sorry.
I know it is a real loss and real grief.
May the Lord give you comfort.

Mark H. said...

Sorry, man. Sounds like you had 15 great years with her.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Nicole said...

Sadness is all over the place, Dayle. Check this out. http://karenball.blogspot.com/

donna fleisher said...

Sad. I just came from Karen's blog too. Y'know? I don't care what anyone says, there will be dogs in heaven - our dogs. Not all angels look like Gabriel. Some look like Chelsea, and Bo, and Mario too. : )

(There may be cats in heaven too - but they'll all be de-clawed.)

Nicole said...

And horses!

I mean, like, the White Horse Christ rides? Helllooooo.

Yup, horses, too.

Janet Rubin said...

Oh Dayle. I'm sorry too. We know the pain of doggy loss here. My husband and his "boys." Sounds like Chelsea had a really good life. And yes, dogs are the closest thing on earth to agape love. I believe that.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Thanks again everybody.