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A Dog Named Crash (standard:Creative non-fiction, 26098 words)
Author: Lenny ChambersAdded: Sep 24 2016Views/Reads: 1617/882Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
This is not your standard cute doggy story. Rather, it is a brief memoir of my life and how a Lab helped change it. There are snapshots of life including: childhood on a small farm, a Marine grunt in The Nam, a "Gypsy" fruit picker, a father, e

A Dog Named Crash I knew he was about to die.  He did not. What we both
knew was that he didn't really give a damn whether he lived anymore.  
My dear old friend was utterly exhausted.  After thirteen years, this 
big black Lab named Crash was spent from trying to endure the 
relentless daily pain caused by hip dysplasia. His bright spirit had 
dimmed as he tried over and over to be his old self and failed.  I knew 
I had to put him down when I had to drag him up the steps to my house, 
an act which caused him to hang his head in shame. 

I had no choice except to take him to the vet clinic where he had been a
number of times.  For years, he had grown leery of these folks in white 
lab coats who had labored to remove porcupine quills, to bandage a 
sliced paw or to rid him of pesky ear mites.  He never appreciated 
these efforts, of course. Like most dogs, Crash did not think vet 
clinics were a fun place to go and he had developed a rather uncanny 
ability to know when a clinic visit was imminent.  Normally, he would 
try to leave soon as soon as we entered the office.  He was never 
frantic, but he would pull against his leash, initially ignoring my 
commands to sit or lie down, and startling people and dogs alike as the 
sound of his deep bark filled the room. 

I bolted outside and ran to my little red coupe. I leaned against the
door, fighting to regain my breath and biting my lip to slow the tears. 
There were a few people in the parking lot who quickly averted their 
gaze from the sight of a sobbing, grey-haired, and balding fat man who 
was grasping an old choke chain.   It took a while before I was able to 
slowly drive back to my little blue cottage, which now seemed so 
utterly lifeless. 

In the next few days, as I reminisced about the last thirteen years I
spent with Crash, I began to realize how much I had come to depend on 
his faithful companionship to dispel my periodic bouts of loneliness 
and isolation. 

From the age of eighteen until the age of thirty, I had lived alone most
of the time.  There were some exceptions, of course.  I did have a 
number of college roommates and more than a few one night stands. 
Despite a twenty-year marriage, I have spent most of my adult life 
alone.  However, I usually had a dog at my side. In 1968, after I 
returned from Viet Nam and was discharged from the Marines, I began 
travelling with my dog Wednesday, a red Dingo mix.  She rode shotgun 
with me in my 1946 Dodge one-ton van for a year before she was shot by 
an irate cattleman near Wenatchee, Washington.  She had managed to chew 
through a temporary rope leash early one morning and slipped away to 
play with some dairy cows nearby, but the rancher clearly was not 
amused.  (I was livid at first, but I had to admit that it was my 
fault, and he was within his legal rights.) 

I was proud of that van. I had sent to Detroit for a new flathead
Tecumseh engine. I put in leather bunks, a sink, a dining area, 
tongue-and-grove knotty pine walls and red carpet. I painted it red and 
screaming yellow.  It drew the attention of other young folks who were 
living on the road in their equally well converted buses, vans, and 
commercial trucks. Eventually, I joined in with some of those young 
“Gypsies” who had formed a road family.  There were usually about 
thirty members which included some newly-minted college graduates, Viet 
Nam vets, and a few former jailbirds.  Young women comprised about a 
third of the group. Most of the young women were single; some brought 
their kids during the summer. And there were always five or six dogs 
present. We picked fruit from California to Canada until the season 
ended in the fall and then disbanded until the next year. I was no 
longer alone because of the lovely women who chose to travel with me 
from time to time. It was truly an adventure during a period of great 
change in America; a period captured in the bittersweet song lyrics of 
Simon and Garfunkel “They've all gone to look for America.” 

Nor was I lonely during the twenty years I was married and helped to
raise two kids (Jack and May).  But when they both graduated from high 
school and promptly left Eugene, Oregon (Jack joined the Air Force and 
May enrolled at Lewis and Clark University in Portland), the proverbial 
empty nest syndrome set in.   Six months later, my beautiful wife Sue, 
who I truly believed was also my best friend, decided (after 20 years) 
she wanted a divorce. 

I rented a small house in Eugene and went to work at a nasty metal

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