A family bids farewell to their beloved pet dog.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been surrounded by pets, hamsters, guinea pigs, parrots, hermit crabs, snakes, a hairless cat, and of course, dogs. My mother brought all kinds of critters into our home throughout my childhood to my father’s pretend disapproval, and my older sister promptly followed in her foot steps (she was responsible for the snake and the hairless cat). When you have a lot of pets, especially the variety I grew up around, it can be easy to take for granted their ability to infuse life into a space. Animals can be annoying and chaotic, but they are also loyal and hilarious, a house feels empty without them. Naturally, with so many pets around, many of them died (the snake and one of the birds were re-housed, the hermit crab was basically an insect so I feel like that one shouldn’t count, and the hairless cat is still alive… The rest went kaput). It was usually my mother in tears as we said goodbye to her precious guinea pig, Fudge, or shipped Peewee-the-never-mute- parrot off to a new home while my Dad was always tasked with burying INSERT: any-shoe-box-sized-furry-friend-you-can-think-of, in the front yard… He was also the flusher of every dead fish we ever had (we probably had at least five, possibly as many as seven pet fish over the years). It wasn’t until we had to euthanize my first ever pet, Byng, a 19-year-old Schnauzer-Wheaten, who we picked up when I was 5-years-old, that it truly occurred to me the significance that dog held in my heart – he was only 3 years younger than my sister at that time of his demise. Byng was very old. He couldn’t walk or see. He probably needed to be euthanized years prior to his eventual death, but my mother stubbornly kept him alive until it was abundantly clear he was better off not living… Our vet is a family friend who does house calls. She has euthanized two of our dogs in the living room of my family home. Both dogs were impossibly old at the time of their deaths (pretty sure ‘ol Harley lived to around seventeen-years-old). There was something about watching my mother and sister huddled around a hardly breathing, blind, immobile and delirious old dog, crying their eyes out as “The Final Countdown” just so happened to play serendipitously on the kitchen radio, that was simultaneously heartbreaking and darkly comedic. This juxtaposition of comedy and drama became the inspiration for Deadpan. Deadpan is dedicated to the numerous pets who passed through my life at one point or another, cleaning up all that sh!t was worth it.