Sunday, November 24, 2013

A boy and his dog

It's not that we didn't have pets when I was little. My brother apparently sun-dried his crawfish when he left the container on his desk by the window in direct sunlight. I'm not sure if our hamster "escaped" as my mom later claimed, I have as strong suspicion that she met her end inside of vacuum cleaner "The Wonder Years" style or that someone forgot to fed her. We also used to have an aquarium in my brother's room. I'm not quite sure where that went, I only remember how it was gone when my parents remodeled my brothers room. I was young at the time- but I recall that feeding the fish or not feeding them was a big issue in the family and I saw some jumping out of the tank. The hamster on the other hand was some kind of project at my brother's school where he traded a plant for the animal. My cousin Grazyna had a dog all the kids in our family loved. He was pleasant, warm, never bit or barked, social, furry and white. You could not separate him from her and even as my aunt yelled at her he'd jump in barking to protect her. At the time we believed that Endi was a poodle mix, now I think he looked more like an English Sheepdog. It was funny how I scared of most other dogs as they came by but this, this one I loved. I remembered how one evening when visiting my aunt I talked my parents into "borrowing" Endi for the night. He knew us well and he's been to our house. Without my cousin there he got extremely homesick and spent the whole night at the door squeaking and barking and would not come down. That was love. When my cousin got married and pregnant and moved away, she left her dog behind with her parents. When I asked her why   she said she grew out of it and now she needed to focus on her child. My uncle told us years later, that while walking Endi somebody just grabbed him off the street into their car and he was never seen since. I was twelve when I got my very own dog. Well, not really my own, because she seemed to love my brother the most. She was a mutt. Tiny black thing, resembled a dachshund. She loved people. Always running after strangers to lick their shoes. At first she slept in an old cardboard box but grew out of it quickly. If you left her with kids, she'd have the time of her life. She wouldn't eat lunch meat if you just put it in her bowl. Wasn't a fan of sausage either. She didn't trust most things unless it was something she saw you eat it first. But if she heard the tearing of a candy wrapper even from the other room she was right there to hypnotize you with her eyes and get you to give her a bite. That was also when she'd try to perform all of her tricks at one. Giving paw while begging is something to see. You didn't want that paw? She'd give you the other. Or play dead. Every stranger who passed our doorstep was an instant friend and she loved bring the keys to and from the gated door that cut off part of the floor our apartment was on. Through the night she'd visit any bed with a person sleeping in it she could access. My brother and his girlfriend would often take her with them into his room and she loved that as well. You could say she wasn't that attached to us, right? Wrong. When my brother's girlfriend "borrowed" her for the night to keep her company she wouldn't leave the door or keep quiet. The dog demanded to be returned and was returned that night as if it was an emergency. It was odd to see other kids with Cerebral Palsy freezing up in her presence as if I brought a doberman. That's how I used to react and sometimes still do- with other people's dogs. She never had a good sense of smell, but had a good memory. When asked to search for something- and she recognized a few names of items, she mostly remembered to go look were things usually are. She loved water and to bathe. On a few occasions she even attempted to jump into the bathtub with us. She wasn't much of a fighter and mostly feared other dogs. She just had to be included in some of our exercises. When we would throw the ball around to help me develop precission and skills, every now and then you had to throw it to her, into the apartment.  Sawa's health first started to decline when a rottweiler bit her and she ended up getting stitches. She also developed some back problems walking up the stairs and few years before I left she had some internal organ issues and refused to eat for a bit. But then she got better. And then, just like my cousin I guess I moved on with my life. In 2004 I left Poland. My parents didn't want to worry me when her issues and older age really started to get to her. She wouldn't eat, she wouldn't drink, she had a hard time walking. My mom started cooking vegetables for her as if you would for a child. That was the only thing she'd swallow. She developed a system where she'd stock up on home made food for her, days in advance. Some days she seemed to get better. But later she barely moved. She had a hard time keeping her food down and she had to be carried outside. I didn't know what happened until months later. My parents took her to the vet one more time expecting treatment, hoping there was something they could do, but they never came back with a dog. The vet decided the best thing to do is to put her to sleep. My mom  told me the heartbreaking story of how they came back to an empty home with jars of food cooked for Sawa waiting. And they didn't tell me. I guess they didn't want to stress me. Back then I was set to take the Bar exam in New York and I was fighting for my law school admission in Gainesville

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