Older Than Life This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Thatdog's been here my whole life."

"We're going to put her tosleep tomorrow. She's old and in pain and we're just being selfish keeping heralive," my dad sighed. The vines on our kitchen wallpaper engulfed me,spinning and swirling around me with this news. This decision had to hurt myparents the worst, though - she was their first "baby."

The nextday arrived after a restless night, partially because it was the last day ofeighth grade, but mostly because it had been determined that this would be thelast day my dog would see. She was a once-in-a-lifetime dog, both literally andfiguratively. I can see her as if it were yesterday, with her long golden hairdrifting in the wind, one ear drooped like it didn't have the energy to move, andher big bushy tail held high in the air. It was definitely special and weirdhaving a dog older than my own 15 years.

She was the perfect dog, alwaysprotecting me, comforting me, and always with a look on her face like she shouldhave been a mother. She would cock her head to one side and squint at me, sniffand turn away. That motherly look gave me all the answers. She always knew what Iwas feeling, and if I was hanging my head, she would step in front of me and notlet me pass. It was her special way of telling me not to mope, that there wouldbe better times ahead. Her aging, but agile quickness struck wonder in me. Shenever got old and fat like most people. She could still out-run me, even in herlater years. Had she had pups, I know she would have brought them up well, andher offspring would, in turn, have treated many others with the love she gaveme.

She was like a ship's captain, always on the lookout for danger. Sheacted as though her motto was, "If everything seems perfect, you'veoverlooked something." She was very precise in the way she did things. Whenwe lived in our old house, she would prowl the edges of our fence like a tigerready to pounce. If I was outside playing, she would double her focus, ready toscare off anyone who dared get too close. Once someone did, and my normallysubdued dog went ballistic. Since she was completely gentle and quiet, if shebarked once you knew something was wrong. She would not stop barking at the manwho invaded our space until she alerted my dad and was sure he knew about theproblem.

She was my comforter, one who had a sixth sense, and who knewwhen I felt blue. Whether it was a gentle nudge of her big, black, sloppy noseagainst my leg or simply sitting and looking at me, I knew she was there to lendme support. I could tell she knew my problems, and what I was thinking. She couldhave been human.

To think that our lives might not have met is scary. Idon't know where I'd be now without her. I'm glad my mom loves animals, becausewhen she saw this cute German Shepherd and Golden Retriever mutt stranded at herschool, she shoved her in the car, despite my dad's protests. That's how her lifeseemed to evolve, with second chances. Had she escaped that college campus, shewould have been a pancake on the busy parkway. Instead she had many happy yearsof life, love and pancakes. They were her favorite; every time we ate pancakes,it became a ritual to make a "Casey One," the biggest pancake you couldstill flip.

Second chance number two came when she hopped our fence andwent to Taco Bell to scrape up her favorite fast food. On her way, she had tododge commuters, and luckily she was pretty good at it, until one day when a carslammed into her hindquarters. She managed to hobble over to a drainage ditchwhere we found her a few days later. Unfortunately her injury continued to plagueher with arthritis.

Casey was made for the gridiron; she was a gladiatoruntil the end. A few months before we put her to sleep, we found her whimperingin our backyard. If a dog this tough whimpers, you know something's wrong. Shewas disoriented. She could barely walk, and when she did it was like she wasdrunk. Her tongue hung out, flapping like a rag doll. We thought she wasfinished, and called the vet. He said it sounded like Geriatric Syndrome, wheredogs become confused and warned us she might not make it through the night. Iwent to bed fearing the worst.

The funniest thing about my dog is sheloved proving you wrong. That night, she must have heard all of us sayinggood-bye and thought, Don't give up on me yet. She made a slow but steadyrecovery, and I had a few more cherished months with her. As I look back, Irealize I got more than I ever thought I would, more than memories and goodtimes. I had a dog - a friend - that I will cherish the rest of my life.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Lauren S. said...
Nov. 7, 2009 at 6:06 am
this was a touching piece of work , made me feel like i was there , it is truly a brilliant piece ur talented :D
x
 
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