|My first meeting with Travis|
Without answering my query, the pet store guy--a slightly greasy man who I'll name Serge--asked me to step into one of the back rooms telling me he would bring the husky to me. Then, when the blue-eyed bundle of fluff was in my arms, Serge whipped out an Instamatic and snapped our picture. After flapping it about for the allotted amount of time, Serge then handed the partially developed, somewhat-still-damp photo and declared, "See how good the two of you look together?"
That smarmy asshole! I wonder how many dickheads have been suckered in by this obvious ploy.
It's a horrible picture. Oh, sure, the dog photographed well, but I look like I could use a deep tissue massage with a happy ending. But stubble and Jew fro aside, Serge was right, we do look like we belong together.
Every logical part of my being screamed to put the puppy down and get out of there. I knew Serge was a shyster and would charge me an arm and a leg while telling me what a great deal I was getting. I knew the dog was probably born in some puppy mill in the backwoods of Minnesota next to a moonshine distillery, or somewhere equally dubious. I knew my busy New York life didn't have room to properly raise and care for a puppy, no matter how fetchingly beautiful his eyes were.
Yes, that's what my brain told me, but I chose to listen to my heart instead and whipped out the plastic. Serge's technique worked like a charm and I became a dickhead of the highest order. When I left that Astoria, Queens pet store not only did I have a puppy secured in a cardboard box, but I also managed to rack up even more debt.
That was fifteen years ago.
Early on, Travis let it be known that his spot was at my feet. Whether at the computer or watching TV, Travis's routine has been to nudge my legs apart and settle in.
|Travis and I accepting Michael into the pack|
If I feel guilt about anything it's that over the years, as life has gotten more complicated, Travis has received less and less affection. But no matter how busy I've gotten, Travis has remained faithful and loving, maintaining his spot at my feet.
About a year and a half ago, Travis let it be known that he didn't want to sleep outside anymore. This was a big deal for a dog who loved outdoor weather, the more inclement the better. His sight and hearing started deteriorating shortly after that. Now, it's harder for him to get up and down stairs, and Travis distrusts the wood flooring we have in our house, and only goes into the kitchen with its slate floors and our dining room which has a rug. Travis has had four or five seizures that I know of. He falls to the ground, voids his bladder and shakes uncontrollably. It was after one of these seizures that I told the children that Travis wasn't going to be with us too much longer. That was two years ago and Travis is still here.
He's been bleeding from his mouth recently, and when last week I searched for the source I felt a mass at his gum line. We took him to the vet and it turns out Travis has cancer, a golf ball sized lump grows under his tongue. He's in no pain, but the doctor wanted to euthanize him immediately, saying the growth was metathesizing at a rapid rate and he will eventually have a hard time eating and breathing. And even though Travis is the equivalent of a 95 year old, I decided against the vet's recommendation. I want Travis to be at home when he goes.
After such dire news, I expected to witness Travis's failing health during this past week, but quite the contrary, he's his old self. His eyes still light up for suppertime, he's been more social with Cosmo and the kids, and he's even attempted a happy dance or two.
I may have him only a couple more days--maybe a couple more weeks--but when the time does come, I don't intend to write about it. I'd rather marvel at the life force that is Travis, from the blue-eyed puppy in a box to the distinguished family pet he is now.
|My old man today|
There's my good boy!