I was watching a television show last week and there was a reference to a dog being taken to live on a farm out in the country, where he would be able to run around all day with the other dogs. This, of course, was not true. The funny thing about this is, it is the exact story I was told when I was a kid about one of our dogs and I totally bought it, hook, line, and sinker.
I was just a little guy then, I couldn’t have been more than six or seven at the time. I don’t really even remember too much about our dog at the time, other than he was a Shetland Sheep dog, he was getting older, and his name was Tuffy. From what my older brothers told me, he was a great dog. Back then, there was a place called “the Pit” (short for sandpit), which was just outside the woods behind our house and was a bunch of sand piles and large rocks. My brothers would go out in the backyard and say, “To the Pit!” and Tuffy would take off and wait for them at the Pit. As you can imagine, dogs weren’t tied up or kept in the house all day when we were kids.
Somewhere along the line though, Tuffy turned into a dirty dog and started trying to do things with us kids he ought not to have been trying. To top it off, Tuffy tried taking a bite out of anyone that didn’t like his actions, and that was the end of the line. Fortunately, I don’t recall any of this happening. I do remember being told that he was getting the treat of a lifetime, that my parents were going to bring him to a country farm where he could run around and play all day with a bunch of other dogs. I saw that as Dog Heaven. They assured us “Three Little Ones” that Tuffy would be very happy there, that he would have room to run, and he’d have a bunch of dog friends.
I imagined it always being sunny and warm there, with fields of grass to run through from morning to night. I would think about it from time to time and smile to myself, thinking of Tuffy hanging with his new friends, and figuring he wouldn’t even miss us due to all the fun he was having. For years, I believed that Tuffy was just about the luckiest dog in the world. Well, along with the other dogs on the farm.
It wasn’t until I was in about eighth or ninth grade (into my teenage years for those who don’t want to do the math) that I learned that Tuffy had been put to sleep. I was shocked that my loving parents could do such a thing, I was horrified that my older brothers were okay with this, and I was totally embarrassed that I never figured out that there was no farm in the country where dogs go to live out their last years in complete and total bliss. I guess it was one of the last vestiges of childhood that was torn down, the last of my innocence. Old dogs don’t go out gracefully; they go out suddenly and permanently. Maybe this is why I never got a dog as I got older.
Ah, to be able to go back to those days when everything was right with the world. Santa came every Christmas, the Easter Bunny came every Easter, I was going to be a baseball player when I grew up, and old dogs went to live on a farm in the country with a bunch of other dogs. At least in their world it’s sunny and warm all year round.