|A Dog Named Crash (standard:Creative non-fiction, 26098 words)|
|Author: Lenny Chambers||Added: Sep 24 2016||Views/Reads: 978/531||Story 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 Click here to read the rest of this story (2208 more lines)
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