Requiem for a Good Dog

                                                    Biscuit in park

Biscuit was going on 18 when we had to put him down this week, on the fourth of July.

In August of 2006, I was living on my own in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Traveling home from Ohio, I stopped at the Van Wert pound. They only had a couple of dogs, and one was a fluffy blond mop with an engaging grin. I gave the nice man twenty dollars and took the puppy home.

He was pretty much full grown, but very young – so, “going on 18” is the closest I can come to his age at his passing. He looked like a Wheaten terrier, but who knows?

Biscuit was a comfort puppy. Good at snuggling, fond of sleeping at my feet, eager for walks and plates to lick. On a walk, his fluffy adorability drew admiring comments and requests to pet him, to which he submitted with good grace. Although his first official act at my house was to eat my copy of Marley and Me, he was a quick learner and never ate another book.

He only started showing his age last year, still climbing our steep stairs until then. He was a martyr to eye and floppy-ear infections in his old age, and endured patiently the cleanings-out of those organs. When he seemed to develop skin allergies, we started feeding him raw hamburger, white rice, and a raw egg daily, as well as a fish oil tablet for the itchy skin. He trundled ahead on this diet – our vet, told what we fed him, replied, “Can I come live at your house?”

When I married Marvin ten years ago, Biscuit and Marvin’s amiable dog Charlie became buddies. Charlie died, age 17, two years ago. We got a bouncing hound pup, named Cookie, to keep Biscuit company. She introduced herself by grabbing his tail and dragging him around in circles – and Biscuit’s response was to smile. Cookie, Biscuit, me

He also smiled in his last two months when, unable to do long walks, Marvin retrofitted an old cart to be his tow-behind dog cart. We made a movie of one of the walks.

Honestly, he didn’t generate outrageous stories. His best trick was imitating a hearth rug. He cultivated a life-strategy: wait for the other dog to exhaust him/herself begging for food or a walk, all the while sitting in the wings with a smile on his face – he knew whatever the other dog’s work netted them, he would reap the benefits, due to our democratic treat/walk policy. Perhaps this ability to manage energy gave him a couple of extra years.

There’s nothing I can say about Biscuit that hasn’t been said already about some other dog. Maybe that’s the thing – any dog, given a chance, is a bona fide happiness generator. From the day I brought him home, I was a good 30% happier. He is the only thing one of my sons requested be left him in my will, eschewing his grandmother’s Cupid lamps and my shelves of old books.

Because he, like me, knows that when you have a dog, you have constant affirmation someone thinks you are the best human to ever walk, and the most important. Someone thinks highly of you, someone is glad you came home. You have an in-resident expert at Relationship 101, a course you can ace even if your interpersonal skills are lacking, even if you’re an introvert, even if you’re cranky after a bad day. You have a furry reminder you’re not alone.

Gosh, buddy - rest in peace.

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