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It was a sunny day in Coos Bay, not the usual drizzly day that makes up the weather of a coastal town. Our dog Webster was barking at the birds as he did every day. Webster was our family dog and my best friend. Every boy should have a dog; at least that's what my parents believed. I could smell the bitter, intoxicating aroma of the coffee beans in the grinder as my mother made the morning coffee. It seemed as if the day was going to be perfect. I was dressed in my Sunday best: a freshly pressed pair of slacks, button down shirt, a suit jacket, and hand tied tie. Church was later that day, and I was waiting to be picked up to see my father, who was in town for the day.
As I reflect on the events of the day, they are but a blur to me now. I can remember waiting near our salt-water fish tank. The colorful fish swam around the coral formations that made up the centerpiece of the tank. I liked watching the fish dart in and out of the coral. Gee, the tank looks like it could use a cleaning, I thought. While I was waiting for the arrival of my grandmother to take me to see my father, my mother and sister suddenly burst into the room crying! At least a million questions went buzzing through my head: Why are they crying? Where is Webster? Are they okay? And most importantly of all the questions: Why am I so hungry today? After thinking about what I might eat, I finally snapped back into reality and asked, “What's wrong? What happened? Are you guys okay?” The response I received was something an eight year old never wants to hear.
“We were taking Webster outside for a walk and he saw some deer!” Our dog was notorious for chasing deer. It was his most favorite thing to do. My sister continued, “I wasn't holding onto the leash tight enough and he ran away! We tried to go find him, and we sort of succeeded.”
“Sort of succeeded?” I questioned.
“We were yelling his name and telling him to speak so we could hear his bark,” my sister had tears in her eyes as she explained what had happened, which only confused me further.
“Did he bark?” I asked.
“Yes, but we couldn't find him, and then we heard gurgling sounds.”
Now the tears started streaming down my face. I ripped off my jacket and tie and ran outside. I knew exactly where he was. I knew the forest better than my own cluttered room! I ran straight for the old abandoned well. The forest was thick and dense, allowing no safe passage. Blackberry thorns scratched my face and arms as I plowed my way to the well. The sickening smell of iron hit my nose from the blood dripping down my face and arms. The branches reached out like arms trying to hold me back from my goal. Please be alive! I prayed to myself. You're a strong dog! When you broke your back you weren't supposed to live, I hand fed you every day till you healed. Please, Webster, I love you!
My vision was absolutely blurred by the tears that where pouring from my eyes. I ducked under a fallen tree, pushed my way through a few more bushes, and there it was, standing in the dim light of morning, moss like hair all around the perimeter, the monster that ate my dog: the well! I had finally reached my destination. Around the maw of the well, shining in the sunlight, was razor sharp barbed wire, put there by some unknown soul to keep large animals out. Ahead of me, about three feet, I saw the tiger print leash of my dog tangled in the barbed wire. The other end of the leash hung into the well. I feared the worse, for I knew what was coming next. I walked over to the well and saw the lifeless body of my friend hanging from the end of the leash. He was my family, the one who was always by my side no matter what kind of problem I faced, my trusted companion, Webster. My heart felt like it was punched in through my back. I had no emotions what so ever. I reached into the well and pulled him close to me. His body was damp and cold and felt far heavier than I ever remembered. His white fur was matted and clung to his body. He was a small dog, a purebred Lhasa Apso. He always acted bigger than he actually was, but now he seemed so small and fragile. I didn't know what to do. I opened his mouth and tried in desperation to give him CPR. Every life giving breath into his body was met with a gurgling sound in response. There was no chance of me bringing him back to life.
I carried him to the house, my eyes burned from the tears I had shed over the loss of my companion. I handed Webster's lifeless body to my mom, changed my clothes, and left for the day. Something inside of me died that day along with Webster. I did all these things without showing any emotion. I felt like a stone standing in the direct sunlight. A stone never gives the slightest hint of anything wrong. I became that stone.
A short while later I found myself sitting in my grandmother's 4-wheel drive. I don't remember getting into her truck, but there I was, seat-belted in the lush leather seat. My grandmother expertly guided the truck down our driveway and onto the twisty road that led into town. Soon I would meet up with my father where I would act as if nothing out of the ordinary had taken place only hours before. Sure, I would tell him the story, but I would not show my true emotions.
I can still smell the coffee beans and remember that bright sunny day on the coast of Oregon where I lost my friend, straight down to the horrifying gurgling sound of my lifeless companion.
Goodbye Webster, you were a great dog and a trusted companion.