Doggoneit, an Anniversary

I’m reading, and enjoying, a new book:«Dog On It». I usually confine my mystery reading to James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux books, but I made an exception for this one, because the twist is that it’s told from the private eye’s dog’s perspective. Chet is a police dog helping his buddy find a missing girl. It appears to be the start of a series.

I know that bad things happen to the hero in detective stories; he gets mussed up and beaten up and cut up and all, but then he solves the case, gets the girl, and everything’s cool. But when the hero is the dog, it’s a little tough to read about him getting … well, mussed up and beaten up and cut up and all. We’re kinda weird, we humans; we don’t really wince when this stuff happens to other human characters, but if they’re animals and we get all soft and squeamish and junk.

In the first half of this book alone, Chet the hero gets dog-napped, sliced with a knife, attacked by a cougar, caged up by evil Russian mobsters, choke-chained, shot at, lost in a mine and stuck all over with cactus needles. And he comes through all of it just dandy. Sorry if that’s a spoiler for those of you intending to read the book.

But. There’s a part where he escapes the dognappers and ends up in a three-day kill shelter and is strapped onto the gurney to be put down. (Again, sorry if that’s a spoiler, but it should also be obvious that Chet will survive … there wouldn’t be any more story if he was killed off, right?) He’s rescued literally at the last second (okay, I’ll leave that part a surprise).

Woooosh. That’s a relief. But the point I’m getting to, and I do have one, is that I read this part of the book tonight, almost exactly two years to the moment after we lost our beloved Bayley Murphey Beagle, who was put down after being poisoned by tainted Chinese pet food.

Frank and I both had shed some tears this evening over this sad anniversary. So reading the scene in the Chet book was quite jarring. And the most disturbing part is probably that Chet (fictional though he is) gets to get up and walk away and be reunited with his guy. Bayley did not. And that stinks.

Now, Bayley was very, very sick. Suffering a bit and in need of the relief, kidney functions gone. He was 12-and-a-half, getting way up there for a beagle. So, it had to be. But I still beat myself up about it even two years later. What if I hadn’t switched his food to the Petsmart house brand when we moved to California? What if I had recognized he was sick sooner than I did? What if I had given him a few more days to see if things turned around?

All pointless, but these are the thoughts you have.

I realize I’m kind of a silly ol’ fool here. Still whining about a dog who has been dead for two years. But Bayley was special, and a special part of our lives. I really don’t want to be the kind of person who is unaffected and unmoved by anything, even a dog and his impact on your life.

I still miss Bayley. I always will. I love him and am grateful for all the great love and laughter and joy and warmth that he gave us. Everyone should have companions like Bayley, human, dog, or otherwise. We were blessed.

Rest in peace, sweetheart.

P.S. On a happier note, Chet the Dog has his own «blog». Check it out!