By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Yesterday was the last day on earth for a man’s best friend. Oblio, a German Shepard mix breed dog owned by one of my best friends was put down due to old age. He was a smart dog, a well trained dog, and a good friend for the better part of the past 15 years.
I remember him as a pup; full of puppy energy and spunk. We would play and chase each other for hours. He would bark incessantly and constantly challenge me to take away his toys. I complied with every request. We would hang out together lazily lounging on the couch. As the years went on, we grew old together until of late his pain and inability to move about brought about his demise.
My friend is heartbroken. Having intentionally gone through life without children, his dogs were his children. He loved them and trained them well. I don’t think I know anybody who does as well in raising dogs. Today I am sure there is huge hole in his heart.
When you get a pet, any pet, part of what you eventually have to do is kill that pet. That is the responsibility of being a pet owner. Knowing that information from day one does not make the job any easier. You raise them, you enjoy them, love them, watch them grow and do stupid and funny things throughout their lives, and then one day you pay the Vet to stick a needle in them and end their suffering.
Without a doubt, Oblio was his mother’s dog. As much as he loved his father and his siblings, when Mommy would come from work, that dog could sing. He would howl and whine and literally sing as he heard the garage door open. When Mommy walked in the door, he would charge over to her just to get a little lovin’. He would give far more than he would get but the way she treated him, he was the boy prince who had all the cuddling and touching that any dog could ever want. Mommy was his; I couldn’t even hug her without drawing out his ire.
Oblio spent at least five years refusing to talk to me. One day we were engaged in our usual roughhousing with me chasing him around when I finally got him cornered. At first, I think he got scared, but then he got mad. Even as a youngling, this was not your normal dog. I always felt he had the spirit of a human being inside of him. After cornering him, he just walked away and completely ignored me. Thereafter, whenever I would come over to visit, he would turn away from me. He would walk into the other room. The dog wouldn’t even bark at me. His looks were priceless as if to say, “go to hell” and “I hate you”. It was funniest when he would just turn his head and look off into the distance as if I weren’t there.
Eventually as he aged, that standoffish attitude disappeared and though we never returned to our former state of best buds, he started to bark and would come over to say hello during my visits. Still he would not take any treats from me, hated when I babysat him, and barely cooperated when I would try and engage him.
Today as I know my friend weeps for the loss of his child, all those years of memories come flooding back. There is just nothing I can say or do to ease my friend’s pain. The loss of his best friend, one of his children, is devastating. I can only imagine the void in his life left in the wake of putting his dog to sleep. His home must be quiet and empty. He and his wife are probably just holding onto each other and the remaining kiddies. I see them huddled on the couch trying to cope with the loss and emptiness that follows.
I too am going to miss that old grouch. These past years, the dog spent his life immobile. His hips were failing him and he just laid around and tried to participate in activities without having to get up. He would bark furiously when I would play with his sister as if to say, “hay, I wanna play too”. Oblio would growl and snark just to get attention; until I relented and went down and sat next to him and stroked him. Eventually he got to where he just lay there and barely paid attention to what was going on around him. It was obviously time.
I have been in my friend’s life long enough to watch him put down three dogs. Each one was special and a character in their own right. Oblio was the depressed gay poet who used to live in Greenwich Village. That was his personality and what made him unique.
Fifteen years we spent together. Today, he is gone. He was as much a part of my life as his Master and I cannot imagine going to visit my friend without “O” barking for 20 minutes to say hello and fill me in on his day. It will be quieter on my next visit. That silence will itself speak volumes about the hole left by Oblio’s death.