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The Lake News Online
  • My view: First pet teaches life lessons on caring

  • Like a lot of people, I grew up in the suburbs in a very suburban neighborhood with a very suburban family.

    Part of that family included a dog — my first pet.
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  • Like a lot of people, I grew up in the suburbs in a very suburban neighborhood with a very suburban family.
    Part of that family included a dog — my first pet.
    He was a miniature schnauzer — lean, athletic, with mostly gray hair, cropped tail and pointy ears that shot skyward.
    Our family called him “Baron.” Or, Baron Allen Dundon if he had done something naughty.
    Out of everyone in the family, I got along with Baron the least. See, Baron came along in between my sister and myself. He was used to my older sister siphoning off attention from him, but when I came along, Baron didn’t have a chance. Two children under the age of four meant Baron was pushed into third place in the line of parental love.
    I think Baron got jealous of me.
    Anyway, Baron would usually snuggle up with my dad or play with my sister, but honestly, he didn’t want much to do with me.
    And I let him be, for the most part at least.
    I remember teasing Baron on occasion, as only a child would do. I had a habit of touching his tail, which would bother him. He would turn around to get me to stop, and he would chase his tail in a circle.
    I would sing “Wheel of Fortune, wheel of fortune, wheel of fortune TIIIIIIIIIME!” and pretend I was a contestant on the game show.
    Baron, I’m sure, hated it. But I was young and could get away with pestering the dog.
    I eventually grew out of my childish game and my relationship continued pretty much status quo — I let him do his dog thing and he more or less avoided me. I didn’t feed him much, rarely walked him and didn’t really play with him. I guess I just didn’t really care.
    As dogs tend to do, Baron got older, and in turn, slower.
    He had a little trouble with his back and couldn’t move as well as he did in his youth. Our family knew Baron wouldn’t live forever and he was approaching the sunset of his life.
    The last time Baron received a haircut was at a new place. Out of his element and comfort zone, Baron apparently didn’t do so well and required a muzzle for the groomers to complete their work. Poor Baron was traumatized. My mom and I went to pick him up and I headed into the building first. Shaking like a leaf in the wind, Baron looked up at me with scared eyes and in a moment of recognition, scooched as close to me as he could get. I put my hand on his back and on his head and he seemed to calm under my touch.
    Page 2 of 2 - As much as this animal spent years avoiding me, he needed me.
    Baron died one July after 14 or 15 years on Earth.
    I remember walking downstairs and opening a door, accidentally whacking him. He had fallen on the other side of the door and couldn’t get up.
    My parents took him to the vet where they learned there wasn’t much they could do to help.
    They returned home without Baron.
    I don’t think I had ever cried that hard in my life. Weeping into my pillow, I cried “I want Baron back.”
    This animal, who meant not all that much to me for all my life, was suddenly absent and I was crushed. As much as I thought I didn’t, I needed him.
    Like the rest of the family, I moved on, but the sad story of Baron the dog crosses my mind from time to time.
    I think Joni Mitchell said it best in her 1970 song “Big Yellow Taxi”:
    “Don’t it always seem to go
    That you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone”
    With everyone in my life, I try not to replay the relationship between myself and Baron.

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