Two score and one year ago, on this very day, I was pulling an all-nighter within the four walls of my bedroom / recording studio… laying down some tracks on the Reel-To-Reel to produce an audition tape I’d be submitting at various progressive rock radio stations. Since my room was not soundproofed I’d often opt for the wee hours because they afforded me the best chances for avoiding extraneous, distracting background noises.
Well, unbeknownst to me, while those long, five hours had been ticking down, a dear friend, one I had known and lived with for nearly nine years, had been experiencing some serious medical difficulties… a discovery I made soon after powering down all my audio gear and emerging into the hallway. There I found him sitting just outside my door… in the exact same spot where he’d be waiting for me whenever inviting me to join him on our long walks through the wilderness.
At first… nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary… however…
As we silently walked side by side into the dining room, just as I slid the patio doors open, Snoopy, a Labrador/Sheppard mix, let out the doggy equivalent of a moan. His hind legs seemed to give out a bit but he did manage to, somehow, muster sufficient strength to make it outside into our dark, snow swept backyard where, for a moment, he looked back at me before continuing onward… prior to lying down.
What I suspected was happening… well… this wasn’t totally unexpected. You see, the previous fall his veterinarian had discovered that mosquitos had exposed him to heartworms and, while the good doctor’s treatments had managed to eradicate them… well… too much heart damage had already been done… and that meant a shortened lifespan.
I grabbed my parka and rushed outside to be at Snoopy’s side. The snow had started falling all around us as I crouched down to say my final, “Bye-Bye” and give him one last, long hug, pat on the head and tickle behind the ears… all that transpiring just as he was taking his final breaths.
As I stood up and looked down at his now lifeless body, I first thought back to how, just prior to my recording session, he’d been outside frolicking in the snow drifts… assuming that classic, “Let’s play!” posture… crouched low on his front legs, butt high in the air, tail wagging at 100mph… even letting out a few excited woofs. Oh, how I wished I had taken the time to join him… so we could’ve revisited nearly a decade’s worth of those similar fun times we had shared together.
All the sudden, it dawned on me how, geographically, we had been here before. My mind vividly flashed back to a warm, sunshiny, midmorning Saturday… June 10, 1967… Snoopy’s first day with us… his new human family. I had carried him from our family car and had set him down on the very same spot where he had chosen to die. That had to have been more than coincidental.
Admittedly, most pet owners do tend to assign goodly amounts of human intelligence to their dogs… but Snoopy more than lived up my benchmarks… debunked what many skeptics would be too soon to dismiss as “hype”. A few examples…
When I was a commuter attending a community college, Snoopy was fully aware of the subtle differences between my MWF and TT class schedules… my Mom telling me countless times how he’d always head for our home’s side door where he’d sit and wait for me… like clockwork… five minutes before I’d be pulling into the driveway.
He understood English phrases… even if I deadpanned my words. All I had to say is, “Din-din time.” and he’d rush to the kitchen and await his meal. All I had to say is, “Let’s go bye-bye.” and he’d be wagging his tail and bolting for the backdoor where his leash was hanging. And, if I didn’t initiate that activity, he’d sit outside my closed bedroom door, right on schedule, and repeatedly and loudly plunk his butt down to remind me.
Snoopy knew his math, too. We’d play a game where, in the kitchen, I’d load up his doggy dish with his favorite Milkbones™ and then head for the living room to read the newspaper or watch TV. He already knew the rules to our game. He’d first wait for me to say, “Go See!” and next retrieve one of those snacks… returning to lie down beside my chair to crunch away. After he’d finish, once more I’d say, “Go See!” and he’d repeat everything. Now here’s the amazing part… I knew how many bones I had served up and just to test him, I’d say, “Go See” even though I knew his bowl was empty. He already knew the game was over and didn’t even bother rushing back into the kitchen!
Snoopy felt empathy, too… far, Far, FAR more than we’ll ever see exhibited by present-day politicians. For example, late afternoon, after my doggy’s doctor had presented the facts… the glum prognosis re that heartworm damage… I found myself back home, sitting on the living room floor crying. Snoopy slowly approached… our brown eyes making contact… and then sat closely beside me. Leaning into me it was as if he was saying, “Don’t cry Tom… it’ll be OK.” At 80 pounds he was far from being a lapdog but he did wind up stretching out his front legs over mine and there we stayed till dusk.
Well… I could go on… but… I’m already way past the halfway point of this word document’s page two.
I’d like to thank all of the intrepid souls who’ve stayed with me to these concluding paragraphs.
Snoopy (Born May 7, 1967 ~ Died January 29, 1976) vividly lives on in my mind and by my blogging about him, here, today (especially following this day’s curiously similar snow swept morning), I do hope to immortalize him… his story… our story on the Internet, too… for it’s oft said that no one / nothing ever dies on the World Wide Web.
I also hope that, someday, when my time is up, too, I’ll discover that Heaven (not oblivion) not only awaits me but that I’ll also find my overjoyed, beloved pet, Snoopy, awaiting me right on time…woofing… wagging his tail… right beside our Creator’s “All Pets Allowed” sign.