If you are reading this, it is because I am gone. To be frank, I haven’t been feeling well lately, and when my owners showed me the age chart on the wall – and pointed out that I was off the chart and two inches up on the stucco – I have been feeling as though it might have been time to allez-donc into the great warm lake in the sky.
I’m pleased to have a last word, as so many of us are hit by cars or felled by leukemia, and I am happy to have lived long enough to say a proper goodbye. If there were two rules I lived by, they were “assume nothing” and “make proper salutations.” Frequently the two mixed together.
I am almost sixteen as I lay down for my last, and have seen my fair share of the world. I was often mocked, however, for my single-mindedness, my mode dogmatique, if you pardon the woeful pun. I had but one love of my life, leading lesser-minded souls to whisper about my supposed sexual confusion, or even asexuality. I am a reserved dog by personality, but I am now free to say this: I loved only her, and my duty to her was greater than love. Why? Because I was chosen.
My mother lived on a farm in Brenham, Texas, where she killed everything in sight. We were not close. I don’t know that she even had the mothering instinct. She gave birth to many of us brothers and sisters by the side of the creek, knowing (I believe) full well that many of us would drown in the first rain. Indeed, three of my brothers did just that.
The four of us who survived did so by scavenging, until a kind little boy found us, and brought us up to the farmhouse. We were to be rescued by whomever would have us, but nobody came. Days went by, until a blonde person, about 21, came to look. My sisters and brothers, all white and playful, licked her and yapped about in their usual style. I didn’t even bother: I knew there was no chance she would take me. I sat in the corner and tried to think of other things. Perhaps I would be cast out into the farm again, and pass away amongst the thrushes.
And she chose me. I hadn’t said a word. Despite all my vivacious siblings, she chose me and I went away with her; she took me to many different parts of the country and never left me. She called me “Chopin” – pretty much the only word of English I know, along with “no,” “sit,” “heel,” and “get out of the kitchen” – and that was that.
What are the responsibilities of the chosen? We serve our chooser. Antoine de St. Exupery said “we are responsible for what we have tamed,” but I would add the inverse, namely, we are tamed by our responsibility.
It grows late, and I would like to say my goodbyes now. First, to all of my owner’s friends who played with me, took me for jaunts, and succored my idiosyncrasies; I nod to you. I would also like to say a little hello and goodbye to the baby they call “Lucy” – I hope she has an affinity for black dogs later in life, without knowing why. Small inklings are big victories.
To my adopted red-headed owner, who came to dominion over me later: we may have not always seen eye-to-eye, but the years have given me a grudging respect I know you share. By my calculation, we have driven almost forty-thousand miles together, across the country six times in as many years. I thank you for allowing me to relax a little, as being an “alpha male” was always more façade than reality. I will miss having my “tummy” scratched.
And lastly, to my owner: I am happy I was able to see you from college into your major life change at 24; I was honored to bear your ring at the wedding, and am relieved to see you through the birth of the young one. I am tired. I would have followed you to another mountaintop if only my flesh were willing.
One emotion is truly undying: my affection and loyalty, for I know full well you could have done anything else. You could have taken any of them home with you, and yet you chose me.