I hate dog movies. In dog movies, the good, loyal, lovable dog always dies at the end, and I end up sitting there in the dark with big tears streaming down my cheeks.
It was that way with “Old Yeller.” It was that way with “Marley and Me.” It was that way with “My Dog Skip,” which I saw on an airplane flying to Los Angeles. The entire cabin was beside itself with grief.
No dog movies for me. Especially now that I have said goodbye to my canine pal of the last 14 years, my Cookie.
Cancer had wracked her body. Her famous tail stopped wagging … and this was a tail known in three states for its whiplash power when Cookie was really excited about something (company, dinner, meeting a complete stranger). Cookie drooped, and every step she took sent shivers of pain through her. It was time to let her go.
But then again, no. You don’t “let go” of a dog that has been velcroed to your side since the moment you brought her home. You don’t let go of the pal who spent every day in your office with you, snoozing away as you wrote, or tried to. You don’t let go of the friend who ran back and forth from you to the door, as if she couldn’t believe her good luck, at the mere mention of the words “walk,” “truck,” “ride” or “park.” Heaven forgive you if you ever said, “I parked the truck and decided to walk instead of ride.”
Of course, like any dog owner, I have a million funny dog memories:
1. How much Cookie enjoyed cicada season. She thought they were snacks.
2. How she learned the difference between a cicada and a praying mantis when she tried to make a snack out of the latter. If a dog could say “P-Too,” she did that day.
3. The time she ate about a pound of birdseed and then pooped millet for two days, which went unnoticed until it sprouted and I thought for a moment she had the worst case of worms in canine history.
4. Her tendency to run when younger, which resulted in her hitting a truck. The truck didn’t hit her, she ran right into the side of it and dented the front right quarter panel. Luckily, she hit it with her head and so escaped unhurt.
5. The time she followed the mailman off the front porch and was climbing into his Jeep before I stopped her.
And so many others.
My brother once said Cookie was an 85-pound dog because she had a 75-pound heart. Anatomically impossible, but true nonetheless. Cookie loved everybody, and she had friends everywhere, from Ann across the street to my sister’s pugs to every kid in the neighborhood to the succession of cats that shared the house with her. She loved everyone at the vet’s office, where her rambunctious nature led a vet tech to append “Monster” to her name. Cookie Monster she was.
She came to me as a 2-month-old pup, fresh from being dumped out of a car by some idiot whom I curse for cruelty and thank for sending her to me. And now her life, her dog movie, is over, and I sit here in an empty office with big tears streaming down my cheeks.
Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.