There is a picture of me, from about 12 years ago. I am wearing my high school football jacket in this picture. Blue felt, with black leather arms. It was way too big. In this picture I am holding something. I think I can count this “something” as a “someone”. This “someone” was tiny, and smelled weird. This someone was soft and fluffy. We named him Quincy. I said goodbye to Quincy about 20 minutes ago.
Quincy was a Shi Tzu. The kind of dog my dad and I made fun of. Was he a rat? Was he a kind of weird cat? Though he was big for his breed, 24 lbs at one point, he wasn’t really what we wanted. But Shi Tzus are hypoallergenic so mom could handle it.
It is odd looking back. Dogs age the same way humans do. He was so soft. Most of his fur was white, with light brown patches. He was chubby and clumsy… he was kind of stupid too. As he lay on the table today I found it hard to stop petting him. His fur wasn’t soft any more. It was cut short, course. His skin was loose. Still clumsy though, but that is because he had been blind for 7 years.
I don’t remember much from his time as a puppy. But I do remember him when he was a bit older. I was in university and living at home. My schedule was such that I spent full days home alone with Quincy once or twice a week, depending on the semester.
I would eat pizza pockets and bacon sandwiches (because the freshman 15 just wasn’t enough for me) and I would feed him scraps as we would watch 3 hours of “Saved by the Bell” and “Boy Meets World” together. He didn’t say much, but those few years, and the years after were really important.
They weren’t important because of the normal reasons. Yes I graduated from university, twice. I started a career. I met cool people. I did cool things. But I also struggled a lot. These years were important because of failures. I hated university when I started, I realised I am not cut out to be an academic. I was lonely. I spent 6 of the last 8 years single. This was mostly by choice, but no matter how comfortable I was being on my own, there were low times. My career got off to a rocky start. My volunteer commitments fell apart. I gained weight. Relationships ended.
I never talk about those things much, I never have, and likely never will. I have moved on, grown. But I will always be thankful for one “someone” who knew exactly how I felt and didn’t care…. as long as I fed him bacon sandwiches, anyway.
I know Quincy never really knew what was going on, that I was struggling. I don’t think he would care, even if he did know. All he cared a getting scratched and bacon sandwiches.
But he would stay close even when I didn’t do those things. It was really nice. Just to have someone close without a care in the world. Even after I moved out of my parents house I would often visit, when there were no humans home, just to say “Hi”, or to tell him what was going on, or to play and wrestle.
By the time I moved out he was blind. He went blind when I moved to Newfoundland. He fell a lot. He fell down the stairs and bumped into things but he learned to manage. For a few years we would even take him for walks while even though he couldn’t see. He still loved it.
Dogs are weird. This dog was really weird. He smelled like white cheddar flavoured pop-corn. And forgot how to poop and pee outside. He got hairballs that caused him to violently snort. He ate socks that were as long as he was, and pooped them out whole. While he was blind he was willing to run off into a forest.
One time, while I was getting ready for work, he ran away. I searched for half and hour and couldn’t find him. so I started to drive to work when I spotted him digging in a neighbours garden behind their house. When I called his name my BLIND dog SPRINTED toward me and fell head first into a ditch. Luckily I wasn’t the only one to witness this disaster, one of my students at the time saw the whole thing. I laughed, she cried.
Earlier this week, when I told my grandmother that we were saying goodbye to Quincy she asked “Do you think dogs go to doggy heaven?”. I answered “Nope” and paused…. “they go to regular heaven”… She laughed.
I know that’s only a half decent joke. I also know that some of you don’t think there is a heaven. Others would say animals don’t have souls and therefore will not being going to heaven. I am sure you have evidence for your opinions, either way.
As for me… I am pretty excited to see Quincy again.
“When the Man waked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’ And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.’”
—Rudyard Kipling(author, The Jungle Book)