(Editor’s note: This week’s guest columnist is the Sutherland family dog, a registered English Shepherd who will soon turn 14.)
Hello. Miss Murphy here.
Just a note to bring you up to date on my family.
The big news of late is that my boy Cort had a big birthday yesterday. He is now 16 and from what the humans all say, that is a very big thing.
Lately the human who comes nearly every day and puts things in the box by the side of the road has brought lots of things for Cort. It makes him smile when Miss Judie comes back from that box and hands him paper things to open. It brings a happy feeling to the whole house.
I must tell you that it is good to see my boy smile. He has not had much to smile about for far too long. He never complains, though – like my kind will do with a howl and a bark and a yip – when shots come our way. He has lots and lots of shots and pills and a ball of medicine hooked up to his arm every single day. I watch and worry and wonder. I want to tell him to yip once in awhile!
Once, when the human they call Nurse Kathy came, I tried to get between her and Cort so that she would leave him alone. I was nice about it, just quietly standing in the way, and when Miss Judie told me to go lay down, I just had to give up and go. The way I see it, it is my job to at least try.
That day Nurse Kathy took lots of blood out of my boy’s arm and it was like I just knew she was going to do something like that on that day! But Cort told me it was OK, and he didn’t seem nearly as upset about the entire matter as I was. I just want everyone to leave my boy alone!
Miss Judie does not listen when I try to tell her this. She brings Cort lots of pills and water when she knows he does not seem one bit happy about it. She takes him away and he comes home smelling of the veterinarian’s office and other dreadful places. I just know in my bones that she is not taking him to the fun places that boys like to go. There is no joyfulness in the air.
There is no wag in my tail on these days. I look up with my saddest eyes and try to say things that no one seems to hear. I am sad, I am sorry, I am wanting that little boy back that used to throw the ball so hard and so far that even I could hardly believe it!
I want him to ask me to be the catcher when his friends come to play a game of baseball in the side yard. I used to be really good at that job.
Maybe it is my fault that no one asks. I am getting so old and so – well, confused, sometimes! I woke myself up barking very early one morning and had no idea whatsoever just why I was barking. I was so embarrassed.
Miss Judie found me lying on the special bed she bought for me and said, “What’s the matter, Old Murph?”
I just looked at her with eyes that said, “Where do you want me to start?”
One day I got in the trash. Just like a puppy, I tell you! I tore through that trash with wild abandon and ate junk that a sensible dog would not want. When Miss Judie put a stop to it, I hunkered down with such disdain. I cannot begin to explain what came over me.
The worst thing I did is almost too embarrassing to tell. I found myself standing on the road. ON THE ROAD! A car made an insulting noise at me and it waked me up from whatever reverie I had been in.
The worst thing of all is that the other dogs had followed me. I am the leader, as you all know. I let everyone down on that terrible day.
I would like to blame it on these circumstances we have found ourselves in. No one is quite the same, nor will they be, until my boy is back playing ball in the side yard and whooping and hollering and laughing once again.
That would put the old wag back in my tail!
English Shepherd esquire