I'm going to tell you a story today. It's not about a kitty, which would be a fine thing to write about; it's about a woofy (as Buddah is apt to call them.) I don't know why I am telling you this story, other than that it's a true story, and it has a Golden Retriever, which is a fine kind of woofy to have, if you have to have a woofy. I used to have one named Hank, and the People still miss him, but this story is not about Hank, even though there are lots of nice Hank stories to tell.
Once upon a time, there was a man we'll call 2Tall, because he is very very tall, and he has a hard time finding pants that are long enough, so obviously he is too tall. 2Tall loves dogs; he had a yellow lab named Striker, but Striker met an unfortunate end when his collar got caught at the top of a six foot tall fence. No one knows why Striker tried to jump that fence, but 2Tall felt very bad about it for a very long time, and thought he would never have another dog as long as he lived.
Then a couple of years passed and he met A Girl and he fell in love and decided she was pretty spiffy, so he would give up his bachelor ways and not eat Trix and Ding Dongs every day. This was a very big deal, because he loved Trix and Ding Dongs, but she loved vegetables, so he was going to eat vegetables. She had a cat that did not care much for him, and he did not care much for the cat because the cat would sneak under the blankets and bite him in places he should not be bitten. The cat's name was Trubble, and he agreed she was well named.
2Tall had known the Woman (my Woman) since they were both Medium Sticky People. He told the Woman all about Trubble, and she laughed at him because, frankly, it's funny when someone else's fun parts are getting bit by a kitty. The Woman also knew that 2Tall really missed having a dog, so she spoke to 2Tall's Wife, and said "His birthday is coming up, and another friend and I would like to get him a dog."
2Tall's Wife thought that was a fine idea, so the Woman and her friend Sandy pooled their pennies together and bought him a puppy. THis was about the time that the Man (mine) had kidney stones, so in honor of his friends and his friend's owie, 2Tall named the puppy "Sandy'n'Thump's Stoner." But he called the puppy Stoner for short.
Stoner was a smart puppy, smarter than the average dog. That was apparent right from the beginning. 2Tall liked to run for no reason other than running itself, which seems kind of odd to me since running just makes you tired and hungry. Soon Stoner was running with 2Tall, and every day after work 2Tall would say "Run, Stoner!" and Stoner would fetch his leash so that they could go on a long run together, like 20 miles, or maybe just 5.
Stoner also learned how to open the refrigerator. If you said "Stoner, Coke!" Stoner would run to the fridge and open it, grab a can from the bottom shelf--you couldn't be too picky about what you actually got because Stoner never did learn how to read--and bring it back to you. Sometimes Stoner would open the fridge even when no one asked him to, so his people learned that it was not a good idea to put steak or other doggy temptations on the bottom shelf.
Not too long after Stoner mastered running and Coke fetching, 2Tall and his wife had a baby boy. We'll call him Sticky One, because they are awfully sticky for the first eight or ten years. When Sticky One was tiny, Stoner learned that "Back five" meant he had to take five steps away from Sticky One, and he was only allowed closer than that when 2Tall or his wife was right there. He did not mind, and when Sticky One was awake he sat and watched the baby. When Sticky One was a little older and learning to crawl, Stoner was not asked to "back five" because they knew he would be very very gentle.
In fact, Stoner was so gentle that he would let Sticky One grab his fur and hold onto it as he learned to stand up. He didn't cry when Sticky One pulled his ears or his tail. And as Sticky One got older, Stoner kept watch over him all the time, even when 2Tall and his wife had other sticky little people. When Sticky One started school, Stoner waited by the front door or on the porch, so that he would be sure to see him when he came home, so they could play together in the back yard. Sticky One loved to throw the ball for Stoner, and Stoner always brought it back. Then when 2Tall came home they would go for a run while Sticky One did homework, then they played again after dinner.
He knew his job: he had to make sure that 2Tall ran every day, and he had to make sure that Sticky One got outside for fresh air every day, and it was up to him to make sure the other sticky people got to play, too. He watched over them carefully, and did not let anyone else near the yard when they were outside playing. He took his job very seriously, because he loved it so much.
One day 2Tall's Wife took Trubble outside and was gone for a long time, and when she came home Trubble was not with her. She was crying, so Stoner didn't sit at the door waiting for Sticky One, he thought it was more important to lay his head on her lap, and hopefully she would feel better. He knew where Trubble was, and wanted her to understand it was all right. Trubble was happy where she was, and would wait for him when it was his turn.
As the years went past, the Sticky One grew very tall, almost as tall as 2Tall. His sister was not as tall, and his brother was very much not tall, but they were happy and fun and Stoner loved them all, but most off all he loved 2Tall and Sticky one. 2Tall still liked to go for long runs, but Stoner found himself slowing down. 2Tall slowed down for him, but after some time he admitted that perhaps Stoner was just too old to keep running. One day he asked hopefully, "Stoner, run?" but Stoner did not go get his leash, so 2Tall told him that was all right. He had run for thousands of happy miles and he deserved to rest.
He still played in the yard with Sticky One, but he didn't like to chase the ball quite as much. He liked to lay there and watch as Sticky One and his little brother threw the ball back and forth, and was quite content in his leisure.
Then one day 2Tall said "Stoner, car!" and Stoner knew that it was not a request. Everyone was getting in the car, so he padded over and waited for someone to help him get into the back seat. He could do it himself, but he thought that at his age, he deserved some help. Sticky Person lifted all 75 pounds of him, and helped him get settled onto the back seat.
Stoner was not happy when they pulled up to the Stabby Place. Nothing good every happens there, and he did not want to go inside. "It's all right," 2Tall said to him. "You're only getting a checkup. Not even shots." (I know what you're thinking, but don't worry, it was not That Visit to the stabby place.) So Stoner sighed and got out of the car, and wandered inside with the whole family. Sticky Person promised him it would be fine, and afterwards they were going to go for a picnic. Stoner was going to get a whole hamburger for himself!
That sounded mighty fine to Stoner, so he crawled onto the scale to be weighed, and let the stabby guy look in his ears and eyes, and didn't struggle when his mouth was pryed open. He took all the poking and prodding like a man, because, after all, that's what he was. Stoner was a Man dog, a gentleman dog.
When he left the stabby room the rest of his people were oohing and ahhh-ing over a box, so he wandered over to see what they were looking at. He peered inside the box, and there was a little yellow puppy, not much bigger than a sneeze, or at least what Stoner imagined a sneeze would lok like if he could only see one. The puppy was squealing and squirmning, and working hard to get out of the box.
"He's the last one," Stoner heard a strange woman saying. "We're moving, so the vet is keeping him until a home could be found."
Stoner looked back at the puppy. He knew what might happen if there was never a home found for the little guy. This was a happy puppy, and probably pretty smart. He heard the man say "I had a dog just like him once." The puppy yipped, and Stoner put his head further into the box to let the puppy lick him, which made Sticky One's sister giggle. Stoner could feel the idea begin in his head. He was too old to run with 2Tall anymore, and he couldn't play with the sticky people as much as he liked, but he still had a few years left, he was sure of it. And in those few years he could probably steach a puppy a whole lot of things about making a person happy.
2Tall said "Stoner, car!" and Stoner knew he had to work fast. He grabbed the edge of the box between his teeth and began to walk backwards, pulling the puppy along with him.
The sticky people laughed, and 2Tall said, "He's not a toy, Stoner," but Stoner knew. He knew what his people did not. He pulled harder, trying with all his might to get the box out to the car, because once the box was in the car, they had no choice.
"Stoner," 2Tall said, "car!"
He had never disobeyed 2Tall before. Not once, not since he learned how to undertsand. He didn't want to make his master upset, but it was time for him to learn to understand, too. Stoner got a new grip on the box, and pulled even harder.
"2Tall," his wife said, "I think he wants the puppy."
"For what? Dinner?"
Everyone laughed, so Stoner knew he was not in trouble. He stuck his head in the box and licked the puppy on top of the head, and then looked up at Sticky One. If anyone would understand, it would be him. He whimpered, then grabbed the box with his teeth again.
"Dad, Sticky One said seriously, "I think he really does want the puppy."
2Tall knelt down and looked at the little yellow puppy, and grinned when it yelped at him. Then he looked at Stoner. "You really want a puppy, Big Guy?" he asked. Then he looked at his wife, and said hopefully, "He is awfully cute. And I could use a new jogging partner."
"Stoner wants to be a daddy!" Sticky One's sister giggled.
2Tall's wife was smiling. She said it might not be the best idea to adopt a dog on impulse, but sometimes you have to do what's right, and it sure seemed like that little yellow furball was the right thing to do.
The puppy's woman said it would make her very, very happy to know that he was going to a very good home, where he would have a Daddy puppy and kids to play with. If they gave the puppy a home, he would never have to live in a cage at the stabby place, and we all know the stabby place is no place for a kitty or puppy or even a hamster to have to live.
So instead of going on a picnic, they went to a pet store where they bought a new bed and toys and puppy food. Stoner sat on the seat, looking down at the puppy, whose box had been placed on the floor behind the front seat, since they didn't have a PTU for him. Then they went home and let the puppy out of the box in the back yard in case he needed to take care of bizness, hoping he would get the right idea from Stoner.
Stoner showed the puppy where to pee, and where to do other bizness, and then he barked and ran, inviting the puppy to chase him.
"Look at that," 2Tall said. "He's running."
Stoner ran and jumped and bounded with the new puppy, dodging out of the way when the little guy tried to run right into him (which earned him the name "Tank" because he's always trying to run things over) and when the puppy was tired they curled up on the back porch to watch the sticky people play. 2Tall and his wife sat in chairs near them, sometimes watching their sticky people play, sometimes watching the dogs curled up together.
They did not talk about how old Stoner was, or that someday, someday sooner than they would like, he would go off to the Rainbow Bridge where he would find Trubble. They did not dwell on Stoner's graying face, his years painted in bright speckles against his rust colored fur. They did not think about anything other than how happy Stoner seemed, and wondered if he would teach his new puppy to open the refrigerator, and if he would be upset if Sticky One got close to Tank.
Stoner spends his days now playing with his puppy, and while he doesn't go for long runs with 2Tall, he romps in the back yard and barks his enthusiasm when Sticky One throws a ball for the little furball. He can enjoy himself now, because he knows he's prepared his people for That Inevitable Day by making sure they have someone else to wrap their hearts around. He thinks he has a few good years left, maybe as much as 3 or 4, and by then Tank will be grown and will know all he needs to know.
And that's the story of Stoner, a very smart dog, and someone we should admire even though he barks and sheds and poops in the back yard. Once in a while he leaves a comment and calls himself "Some Wandom Woofy" and that makes me laugh. Or it would, if I could actually laugh.