I remember one specific day when I was about 9; I got off the school bus and ran to our trailer home.
It was a Friday, and I was excited about a weekend of sandlot baseball, fishing in a nearby creek and playing fetch with my dog.
Brownie was what most called a Heinz 57 variety which meant he was a mixed breed mutt.
I was always sure that he had a little Rin Tin Tin but his legs were shorter, his body smaller, his left ear was close to the size of a German Shepherd, but his nose was too short. Despite those “small” differences I was sure that I had a son of one of the greatest dogs on tv: of course, Lassie was the other
Usually when I got off the bus, Brownie was waiting for me. He would jump up and down and then we would race home.
This day, Brownie wasn’t at the bus stop; I was convinced that he could tell time and knew when the bus was coming but sometimes he would be chasing rabbits in the field behind the trailer park.
I called and called, whistled and called some more.
Mom met me at the steps.
“Mom, where’s Brownie?”
She said softly,”He’s playing somewhere.”
“He should know I’m home.”
“I’m sure he knows. Go wash up; your Dad will be home any minute, and he will help you with Brownie”
When Dad got home , I heard him talking about Brownie and a car … and then I ran outside. My eyes were filled with tears as I climbed into the tree house where I stayed until almost dark when Dad came to get me.
All those memories came flooding back recently when a friend of mine called.
This friend is close to my age, but his voice was strained and cracking as he told me about Harley, a beautiful black Lab.
My friend had Harley since he was a pup and now after 8 years, Harley was dead.
He had been sick and the vet found a mass on his heart.
We all knew time was limited, but Harley continued … just at a slower pace and was getting weaker. Violet, the kitten, started doing something we had never seen. For hours she would sit by Harley and then started laying beside him. Violet knew.
I last saw Harley before my friend took him to the vet a final time.
Harley wagged his tail and nuzzled against my leg
That night my friend called with the news that left everyone who knew Harley sadder than we had been for a long time.
The pain and loss I felt took me back in time to Brownie.
If you’ve never loved a pet, you have missed one of the great parts of life.
But with it comes one if the great pains in life.
It hurts, but the memories are etched in your soul forever.