My son brought him home one day while I was at work. Which coincidentally seemed to be where I was during most large events or life changes that revolved around our family.
He was black and tan, no bigger than a handful, full of energy and completely against what I thought my son was worthy of at the time. His name was Dually. He was a kelpie mix, a mistake from a breeding that shouldn’t have happened. He was cute as hell, full of energy and I wanted nothing to do with him.
You see Jake already had a dog. Jack. Jack came to us in a similar fashion (as in I was at work and had no say). After a year or so, Jack just kind of fell off the boy’s radar and Jack more or less became my dog. Now here we were again, a puppy, the dog of his dreams and I just knew with a stubborn, stingy old man heart that I would be taking care of another damn dog in a year. Cynical yes, but with cynicism comes truth. Little did I know how right and wrong I would be all at the same time.
Dually turned out to be smart as hell! You could teach him anything with only a few tries or corrections. He not only got it, but he never forgot it. The two of them (Jake and Dually) were inseparable. Where ever Jake was Dually was not far behind. He learned to work cattle quickly and went to every roping with jake, happily riding shot gun or inside the trailer. At rodeo’s if I was looking for my son, I’d just walk down the alleyways belting out his recall whistle. My son to this day has no idea how many times that dog narc’d him and his buddies out! One time after not getting an answer on Jakes phone and realizing the locater had been turned off, I whistled down an alleyway to see Dually’s little head pop out from under a stock trailer. Walking over quietly I peered into the trailer to see him and all his friends huddled around a heater, telling lies and laughing. Now I am no moron, of course they were hiding and drinking beer, but all I could think of was it could be much worse. When I was his age, it definitely was, so I simply chalked it up to memories they would never forget and kept a close watch.
Jake went off to college the next year. He came back a few weekends here and there but over time the trips became fewer and fewer. Dually was depressed, moping around the house and ranch. I had grown to really like him a lot. It was such a hard year, Jacy was dying, and the house was inundated with people all the time. The pressure to be everything to everyone was mounting and most days I felt as though I was going to explode. Even with writing this blog, detailing every experience, I was pushing down so much hard emotion. Days were long and the nights were longer. I always tried my best to put on a good face or when called out for my appearance proclaimed I was simply tired. Truth; I was alone inside.
One day I loaded dually up and took him to the beach. He was so happy! He ran and played, we hiked and it was then I knew, my son was losing his dog.
Dually slept on the bed next to me, he got baths, his teeth brushed, treats and lots of exercise. He went with me everywhere, and I mean everywhere. To quote the world famous Forrest Gump; we were like peas and carrots!! Ha ha!
The coolest thing about this dog and believe me there were many really cool things about this dog was his ability to sense things. I had sleep apnea at the time. If I had a night where I quit breathing. Dually would jump on my chest and wake me! He would then stand over me until I recognized him, kiss me once on the face, go to the foot of the bed, curl up and go back to sleep. At first I didn’t know what he was doing. I put it together after realizing the only times he did it, I had a severe headache when he woke me up. A sign I had been oxygen deprived for some time. He was my very special friend.
Even though it was him and I all the time, when Jake came home he never flinched in covering that boy with love. His faithfulness never wavered. Jake would always be “his” boy. It was amazing.
Sitting on the park bench I kept staring at the picture of my dog lying still on the pavement with the caption; He dead. At first I thought he was joking, that dually was actually sleeping out front in some weird contorted body position. I knew the truth by staring at the pic, but couldn’t grasp it. I called Parker and when I finally reached him through his choking tear filled pleas, Parker proclaimed it wasn’t a joke. Dually was dead.
Somehow that morning, Dually had escaped from the backyard. Parker realized he was gone and found him out in front of the house. Before he could get to him, while rounding the corner some asshole in a green Chevy truck hit my dog, full force, and dead center running him over with both the front and back of the truck. I know this because Parker saw him do it, saw the truck bounce into the air and the bastard never let off the gas.
Parker watched him die out in the middle of the street. Parker pulled him from the street, dragging Dually to our front porch. Covered in Duallys blood he tried calling me several times, because he didn’t know what to do. Where was I? Helping, always helping, doing my job, not home with my family where I should have been. Not able to answer the emergency call from my panicked, scared and heartbroken 14 year old son who had just seen something he shouldn’t have seen and was believing it was his fault. Yeah at work we stopped the structure fire that morning, we saved the house; we did our jobs. Here I was miles away and had just lost the one thing that had saved me, saved Jake from going crazy as we watched my wife, his mother die over the last several years. Who was going to save us now..
So I sat and cried.
A police officer came over and asked if I was ok. Was there anything he could do to help? I told him no, there wasn’t, I had just gotten word my dog was killed. He looked at me the way most would. With kindness and understanding, but also with that look. You know the “it’s just a dog” look. How could he know, how would he have known what this dog had done for me, for our family and now like everything else in my life that I grew to love he was dead, gone forever! Is this my destiny? I get it, he is a dog, but fuck! Is everything I love supposed to die? I am I not supposed to love anything at all? Am I fucking jinxed?? I mean whats next? This woman I am seeing; is being with me a death sentence for her as well??? Jesus H FUCKING Christ!!!!!!!!
I spent several minutes on that bench, trying to process, fighting the fight or flight urge to get out of there, wondering how I could escape. Then like I have done so many times before, I swallowed hard, stood up, and shook it off pushing every emotion I had down as hard as I could so as to not show weakness. I walked over to rehab, grabbed up my crew and we went back inside for overhaul relief.
Coming home I pulled up front. There he was, my best friend, my partner in crime, lying there on the concrete. He was still, stiff, and flies were making there way around his crushed skull and missing teeth. There was blood in the street, blood on the concrete. I cried so damn hard. It was painful. I didn’t know what to do. Parker and I hugged, I told him it wasn’t his fault and we would all be fine. I called Jake, I don’t remember that conversation and I am glad I don’t. When I think about that call all I feel is pain. Lots and lots of pain. That dog had saved him right in the middle of his mother dying. Dually was a gift from his mother against my wishes. I would find out much later it was because she simply wanted him to be loved unconditionally after she was gone. Pain, lots of pain.
I took the backhoe and dug a hole for him by his roping horse buddy Twoey. We had lost Twoey to a freak accident earlier the year before. I spent an hour carefully digging that hole. Something that probably should have taken only twenty minutes. It was clean, perfectly shaped and just the right depth. I laid him gently in the bottom of it and something strange happened to me.
Laying down next him inside that hole, I thanked him for everything he did for myself and Jake, I cried some more. He should have been off to the side watching me dig like always. He wasn’t supposed to be dead! It took me twenty years to love another dog after the death of Bear my first dog. Dually was it! What the fuck! I don’t know how long I was down there, but I heard a soft sweet voice coming from the edge. It was Lyn’s, my girlfriend. She came over right after work, she knew I was in a bad place.
Calmly, quietly she reached out her hand for me to come out of the hole. I told her I couldn’t, I couldn’t leave him, he never left my side and I wasn’t there for him when he needed me. Gently she reached out again, took my hand and asked; what can I do?
I came out of the hole. Hugged her, sobbed on her shoulder, crying like a child. I just couldn’t do it, there is no way I can do it, I mumbled over and over again. Lyn’s asked me what it was I couldn’t do.
Bury him. I just can’t put the dirt on top of him, I just can’t say goodbye. Especially like that, as if he was nothing.
Lynnsie grabbed my face, looked me right in the eye and said something I will never forget.
Maybe his time here was done. He came and did what he was meant to do. He cared for you and Jake, he brought you both exactly what you needed and now it’s time for him to go. Now go be the man I know you to be and finish what you started. He’ll always be with you.
The first bucket load was hard, the second a little less so, and before long I was grading the finish.
I sat for a while, looking over the pond with him. Feeling lonelier than ever. Wondering how one human being could hate another human being that he had never met more. Hatred is a powerful thing. Even now, writing this, I have no forgiveness for the fucker who took my friend from me.
I thought a lot about Dually in the days before finding myself lying in a cold hallway awaiting my turn. Wondering if someone would play Van Halen for me once we were inside. If this went wrong, would I see him again, would I see everyone or anyone at all? Would I wake up and be even more heartbroken. I had my family, I had my closest friends and now I had Lyn’s, but I didn’t have my four legged buddy who could brighten up the roughest of days with nothing more than his presence. It was selfish but it was sadness drawn from love.
April 25, 2019 a mere five days later.
It all begins….