When Dodger arrived at our tiny apartment the first thing he did was bound into my arms. His angular face was marked by two blazing eyes, striking even amidst his impressive, tri-colored coat. He was panting heavily as he greeted me, his long tongue flopping crazily out of his mouth. Not knowing much about him, I mistook this for pure excitement, an erroneous reading of which I would soon become acutely aware.
Dodger had a hard life, largely spent bouncing from home to home. Prior to living with us, he had been at a shelter where he spent most of his days kenneled. He found himself there after accidentally biting his previous foster, who was attempting to break up a tussle he was having with another dog over a piece of dropped toast.
As one who has often felt protective of his bread and peanut butter, I certainly sympathized with his plight. I still felt wary however, especially as he had been officially dubbed “reactive” by the organization who gave him to us. This label though soon felt misleading, especially as I watched him happily tear about the central room of our apartment. By the time he flew onto our futon, showering it with short strands of brown, black and white hair, Dodger seemed to be a well-adjusted dog. His powerful body was devoid of menace, gripped simply by a gregarious, playful spirit.
Throughout my adult life I had never given much thought to fostering, despite having grown up with a dog. Thus, when my girlfriend Adrienne became involved with a small rescue here in Denver last winter, I knew I was in for an adjustment – both in body and mind.
I would describe this process as, at best, ongoing. It’s amazing when you become aware of gaps between who you’d like to be and who you are. For me, those gaps often resemble chasms: deep, bottomless fissures that would reduce even the most intrepid of mountaineers into a sniveling puddle of self-doubt.
The transition to becoming a foster was no different. With each dog I have felt initially overwhelmed, so flabbergasted you’d think they were some sort of alien life form or the reincarnation of a long extinct animal.
In my defense, I’ve never been a fan of dog ownership in the apartment setting, at least no apartment in which I’ve ever lived. From the derelict tenement I rented in Chicago from a snake oil salesman, to my one room studio in Saint Paul, I’ve never felt that there was much space to spare. It always felt like a dog would decrease my quality of life.
That’s also because dogs can be an insane amount of work. They’re emotionally and physically needy. They can often be expensive. They are, in many ways, akin to a black hole; none of your time and energy will ever escape. Of course, the emotional pay off can be enormous, especially when compared to other animals.
Dodger was no different in this regard. As an Australian Shepard mix, his energy was incalculable, unlimited and his presence soon overwhelmed our broom closet of an apartment. Soon after he arrived, dog hair began to dominate my life, coating the floors from wall to wall. When sitting at the kitchen table, I was guaranteed to have a slimy object dropped into my lap. Unfortunately, this often was a kong stuffed full of peanut butter and other goodies. Its ruby red exterior would typically be caked in saliva and hair, making it look like a small rodent.
If there was a specific moment which encapsulated how Dodger’s personality could be a double-edged sword, it was one particular afternoon when I came home for lunch. Walking into the apartment I had a brief moment of serenity. I was able to enjoy the illusion of calm that comes from returning to your home-base. It didn’t last. In mere seconds Dodger pranced into view, tail moving furiously. His raging form again seemed dictated by an internal power that had no sufficient outlet.
In the vast spectrum of the human experience, there are few things as pleasant as being greeted at the door by an excited dog. I was pleased to see him, until I focused on his face and spotted the vermin kong clutched tightly in his mandibles.
With a single leap Dodger flew through the air, landing directly in front of me. Once there, instead of following his typical procedure where he would rear up and push against my chest with his front haunches, he began to shake his head with a primal fervor. Back and forth his head thrashed, with the kong swinging from side to side in his glistening fangs. Then, before I could register what was happening, it flew out of his mouth and sailed through the air. I watched, stupefied, as the hairy, repellent projectile crashed against my chest, spraying my upper body with bits of potato and flecks of peanut butter.
Similar explosions of energy were commonplace during our daily walks. For a dog owner, living adjacent to Denver’s Cherry Creek is a dream. Not only is it beautiful, it caters directly to the canine crowd, offering a multitude of on and off-trail experiences. These walks were where Dodger’s personality became truly infectious, particularly when we would reach points on the trail offering direct access to the creek.
One of Cherry Creek’s best features is a series of man-made waterfalls, located at specific intervals between the reservoir in suburban Aurora and the downtown area of Denver proper. Approaching any one of these cascading torrents would send Dodger’s already animated persona into overdrive. He would strain against his leash, pulling it violently taut. Being enamored by waterfalls myself, I never even thought about discouraging him. He would get free reign to scuttle up the slick rocks flanking the falls on each side and jutted out between spouts of white water.
Luckily, Dodger rarely moved quickly while traversing the small inclines of the falls, which allowed my oafish and uncoordinated body to avoid falling into the drink. He liked to take his time, dance from rock to rock and periodically stop to snap at different streams of water twisting around his feet.
There was a moment where his pulling did become overzealous, and I quickly gained a new appreciation for the idiom of “bone-chilling.” This occurred when, after a ferocious change in direction, Dodger caused my right leg to slip off a rock and crash into the surf. Of course, in typical Dodger fashion he whipped his head around upon hearing the splash of water paired with my high-pitched shrieking. I won’t soon forget the look he gave me, which contained one of the biggest shit-eating grins I’d ever seen on a dog’s face.
Dodger soon began displaying problematic behavior on these walks, which overtook him in brief bursts. What became abundantly clear was that something monstrous existed within him, some faulty wiring or noxious mixture of cataloged stimuli that made certain moments unbearable.
Adrienne and I first noticed this during my father’s trip to Denver in April. When he walked through the front door of the apartment everything seemed fine. Dodger trotted into view as expected, greeting Adrienne and I with his characteristically affable nature.
My father followed after Adrienne, which caused everything to change. Now, what is important to understand is that my father does not give off an aggressive air. There is no alpha-male posturing with him. If anything, he exudes a sense of calm, a pensive thoughtfulness that is unassuming and unthreatening. This made Dodger’s subsequent reactions all the more disturbing. Within seconds of my father’s appearance, his generally loose, wiggly and all around happy demeanor dissipated. His form became rigid and alert. His fur bristled. His eyes simultaneously became dimmer and more focused. Essentially, everything became wrong.
What followed was fragmented violence: a booming bark, rough, hostile and ugly; jaws snapping at my father’s retreating pant leg; my hands moving to intercede, clasping Dodger around the neck and shoving him back across the room. All of this occurred in less than a couple of seconds. When it was over everything was fine, aside from my blood pressure. Yet, it marked a key turning point and the beginning of a slow, inexorable decline.
“They’re going to put him down.”
I was walking out of one of my graduate school classes when I received this text message from Adrienne, who followed it by saying that she was currently sitting in her car and couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t cry, but my heart seized when I read her texts. Immediately, I found myself dialing her number, painfully assaulted by the mental image of Dodger leaping onto our bed and curling himself into a tight, furry ball near my chest.
“How?” I stammered, as Adrienne shakily answered. It was all I could really get out, as I suddenly felt deprived of oxygen. As Adrienne began tearfully explaining, my eyes bulged out of my head like a lemur. “I can’t believe it,” I moronically stammered as soon as she finished.
The statement was to some degree a silly one. In the weeks that had passed since my father’s visit, Dodger had gone from bad to worse. I actually could believe it. Additionally, with thousands of other needy dogs in the Denver-area, it was obvious that the organization couldn’t indefinitely invest their finite resources into such a problematic animal.
I personally had come to see Dodger in a new light. His wild energy had been laid bare as neurotic anxiety. Leaving the apartment with him had become a constant danger, as he was becoming aggressive towards nearly everyone who crossed our path.
Even relatively relaxed afternoons had been transformed into nightmarish exercises. Anyone walking past our living room windows was guaranteed to send Dodger into attack mode. He would hurl himself at the window, bare his teeth and aggressively bark with a rabid passion.
Despite feeling drained by these experiences, Adrienne’s revelation still came as a horrible shock and a terrible prospect. In the days that followed, we did everything we could to change the outcome. A muzzle was immediately purchased, which made Dodger look like a canine Hannibal Lecter. I began to primarily exercise him at night, in order to decrease the chance of someone mindlessly deciding to walk up and pet him. For a week or two I became a spook, haunting the streets of Glendale with my own personal Cujo.
I have to mention that not everything about dealing with a dog in crisis is bad; it certainly can serve as a learning experience. What becomes quickly and brutally apparent is that many people are lacking in both appropriate boundaries and empathy when it comes to animals – even other pet owners who should be more hip to the experience. I personally lost count of how many times I saw a void behind the eyes of those who would pass Dodger when we were out in the world. It was as if a key part of human development, where one gains the ability to observe their surroundings and adjust to circumstances, had been erased for these people or perhaps had never been there.
Their reactions basically fell into two diametrically opposed categories, both of which were equally unhelpful. Many were simply thunderstruck by Dodger’s aggressive antics. Rendered flat-footed and slack jawed, these individuals would stop and idiotically gape when encountering Dodger, which did nothing but exacerbate the situation. Others seemed completely oblivious to the dog’s mercurial sensibility. They would stride forward as if possessed by the death drive, hellbent on petting him despite the frenzied protests of Adrienne or myself.
One night was particularly illuminating for how Dodger represented something that people frankly don’t understand, and maybe don’t want to understand. I was playing fetch with him in a surprisingly large dog park located a few blocks from my apartment. This was one of the only times that Dodger was able to be off- leash outside of the apartment, and he relished it. Upon each toss he would rocket into the darkness, kicking up dozens of small pebbles undoubtedly tainted with fecal matter.
I did not share his enthusiasm and remained constantly vigilant during our nighttime games. I knew that if another dog or person came into the park, things could deteriorate quickly. This wasn’t a guarantee by any means, simply a very real possibility.
“Aww, there’s another dog.”
My heart began thundering when I heard these words, which cut through the cool air surrounding the dog park. I had finally started to relax, slipping into a mild fog due to the endless game of tug and war that Dodger insisted on playing. After about ten minutes of back and forth I had finally given up, exclaiming “Fine! You take it!” I then walked over to the side of the park and leaned against the black fence, which encircled and enclosed it into a thin oval.
Dodger stared at me happily as I left his immediate space, before triumphantly plopping onto the pebbly surface of the park’s ground. He then started to ravenously gnaw at his toy, producing a chorus of squeaks.
“Do you wanna go play? Do you!?!”
Approaching the park was the typical triumvirate that you see in my neighborhood: a young couple, pulled along by a large, excited dog. Seeing this, I straightened up, walked forward and put a hand on Dodger, who had already dropped his toy and surged to his feet.
“He’s, he’s not friendly!” I screamed at the dark forms fast approaching the park’s gate.
I knew that my exclamation was bound to receive a negative reaction, if only for the fact that it made me sound crazy or like I was suffering from Tourettes.
“What?” said the woman, as the group came to a stop. “He’s, not, friendly?” she continued, slowly, like she had never heard the words before. The group began walking again towards the gate.
“No, he’s just very unpredictable,” I hollered back, becoming increasingly breathless. I felt Dodger’s shoulders tighten underneath what I had hoped was going to be a reassuring hand. “We’ll leave though; just give us a minute!”
In the dim lighting cast by the park’s one lamppost I could see the man and woman again stop, before turning towards one another and beginning to converse. Adjacent to them, their dog – whose breed was unknowable in the darkness – was hopping about in a circle, stopping periodically to strain against his leash and move closer to the park’s entrance.
“No, that’s fine,” the man said tersely, turning back in my general direction. “We’ll go.”
“Are you sure?” I nervously bellowed, roping my fingers around Dodger’s collar. “We’ve been here a long time already!”
“Yeah, it’s fine, it’s fine,” the woman murmured, clearly crestfallen and put out. It was as if I had grievously insulted her.
While watching their retreating backs I could feel Dodger slowly unwind internally, and he soon returned to munching his toy. My own muscles also began to relax, a calm feeling that was soon replaced by a sharp sense of annoyance. What was wrong with people?
Adrienne and I continued to work with him but to no avail. Dodger seemed to only get worse and worse. This descent culminated with him accidentally biting me on the lower thigh, which left an awful albeit colorful bruise that looked like a massive arrow head.
Yet, despite this lunacy – which came to mar entire days – Dodger’s madness didn’t become fully explicit for me until the end. A trainer, who had intermittently worked with Dodger while he was in our care, came to see him soon after hearing about his potential euthanasia. Since my father’s near-disastrous visit, Adrienne and I had not had anyone else over to our pint-sized apartment. This wasn’t difficult, as neither one of us are what you would call a social butterfly. The prospect of her visit left my body feeling simultaneously charged and heavy, as if preparing for a battle that was already essentially lost.
As expected, this bizarre juxtaposition of excitement and despair was not irrational. Before the trainer arrived, Adrienne and I made sure that Dodger was not only muzzled but leashed and stored away safely in the bedroom. The creeping feeling of imminent doom, which had hung over me like a brooding cloud in the hours leading up to the trainer’s arrival, reappeared in full force once I was asked to bring Dodger out into the main area.
Spitting and snarling, Dodger threw himself against the restraints of his harness and leash once he saw that there was another body in what had become his home. My pulse pounded while watching him, both with irrational fear (as the dog was still muzzled and leashed) and a strange sense of awe. In those moments, Dodger encapsulated both the best and the worst aspects of being alive. I could see him take in the air, channeling it into a ferocious, jagged release. His muscles flexed and relaxed powerfully underneath a glossy coat, hinting at his capacity for destruction. Once again, I was struck his energy level, which seemed off the charts. It was difficult to watch something so healthy, young and vital be also so incapable of handling the visceral nature of existence.
“I don’t think he’s safe.”
Following the trend, this statement from the trainer didn’t surprise me but it broke my heart. During her visit we had taken Dodger on a walk and spent time attempting to get him acclimated to redirection. When we returned to the apartment however, and when the trainer attempted to continue working with Dodger on some simple commands, he had begun repeatedly lunging at her with no warning or provocation.
Her analysis caused all of the tension that I had been carrying to collectively dissipate. This would have been a relief if it hadn’t been replaced by a shocking level of fatigue, which set in immediately after the trainer sadly exited our apartment. With barely a word to Adrienne, I walked into our bedroom, closed the door and collapsed onto the bed like I had been hit with tranquilizer. When is this going to be over? I thought to myself bitterly, feeling my hostility grow with breathtaking virulence. I just want it to be over.
I soon got my wish. Adrienne came into the bedroom about fifteen minutes later, asking in a hollow, distant voice if I would accompany her to the vet so that Dodger could be put down.
It was a second before I was able to register what she had said to me and a few more until I found the strength to feebly prop myself up on my elbows and crane my neck in her direction.
“Ok,” I moaned, before laying my head on the pillow and closing my eyes. “When do you want to go?”
“Ten minutes.” I heard in the darkness. Then the door clicked shut.
The sun and the sky and the creek and the streets. These were the things that Adrienne, Dodger and I passed during our drive to the veterinarian’s office. These were things that he was never going to see again.
Not knowing what was going to happen to him, Dodger seemed fairly happy during our drive, gobbling up his toy (a red, rubber ring) and periodically shooting his tongue out to lick my face. I could see the real him underneath the playful facade. His darting eyes and clear desire to pace in the cramped back seat of Adrienne’s jalopy were a clear giveaway of his tumultuous mental state.
The office where we were going was located clear across town, in a nondescript strip mall a stones throw from the shores of the South Platte River. Pulling into the parking lot,we could see that two members of the rescue organization who had given us Dodger were already there, their faces tight and ashen.
“I’ve been through this a few times before,” one of the members said gravely as we got out of the car. “It’s horrible.”
For me it wasn’t, at least not at first. Sure, during the car ride I had been battling some modest feelings of guilt, born out of the desire to be rid of Dodger permanently. His incessant quirks and unstoppable aggression had worn me down to my most basic level. Although I still cared for him, I knew that his behavior – at least in its current form – was unsustainable.
I knew this was normal, boring even. Anyone in my predicament would have entertained similar if not worse thoughts. Yet, when I walked into the reception area of the clinic I knew that any semblance of composure was ephemeral at best. The sheer enormity of the experience descended onto my body with an onerous force, and the finality of it all cut like a knife.
“Would you like to go to the comfort room or stay out here?” asked one of the vet techs, her voice so full of genuine sympathy that it made my heart ache.
“Yes,” said Adrienne and I in unison, our collective voice amazingly calm. We began walking towards a door on the right side of the reception area, passing other staff members on the way. While the clinic had initially struck me as unassuming and somewhat drab from the outside, I was moved by the warmth and professionalism of the interior. Every person we encountered exuded a mixture of compassion and grim resolve. There was nothing saccharine or false about their approach to their business, only a pragmatic acceptance of its heartbreaking necessity.
The comfort room was small yet nicely furnished, with a small couch, two plush chairs and a small table with pamphlets and Kleenex on top of it. Adrienne immediately sat down in one of the chairs, sighing heavily, while Dodger began to prowl its perimeter, pausing periodically to attempt to wrestle the muzzle off his face.
At last, I began to feel truly emotional. The experiential and spatial circumstances, which I had been absorbing throughout the day, started to work their way out. Before I knew it,I was overcome with grief and began sobbing heavily. Adrienne reached out and touched me on my back but it was no use; I couldn’t stop crying.
After about ten minutes one of the vet techs appeared at the doorway, asking us quietly if we were ready for them to take Dodger back to be sedated. We weren’t and neither was Dodger, who began growling at her the moment she opened the door.
It took two additional check ins, but eventually Adrienne and I had to get Dodger moving, despite him being nowhere near calm. Handing off his leash to the veterinarian proved to be like a small nightmare, as he repeatedly attempted to lunge towards her.
Adrienne and I sat in relative silence after they left, barely speaking. What little was said consisted mostly of platitudes, where we relayed over and over how terrible it all was. This repetitiveness was soon punctuated when an audible scream erupted from the back area of the clinic. Both our heads jerked up in response, and my eyes met Adrienne’s. I could see that what little color had been in her face was quickly draining away.
“Was that Dodger?” she asked earnestly, her eyes large and glassy.
“I don’t know,” I said in a voice that seemed very far away.
A few moments later Dodger reappeared at the door, led by one of the vet techs. Scurrying out of clear, abject terror, he moved directly between the legs of Adrienne and I, his eyes rolling madly, chest heaving with deep and ragged gasps.
“He’s had the sedative now, and we’re going to give him about fifteen minutes to let it kick in. We want him to be as calm as possible,” said the veterinarian, reappearing at the doorway. “If he’s ready to go before that just knock on the door.”
Fifteen minutes can mean many things, as little is more subjective than time. In this case, the 15 minute wait time turned into an excruciatingly literal 45. Despite having received a high dose of sedatives, Dodger anxiety was hardly mollified by the drugs. Each time the clinic staff checked in on us, Dodger would surge to his feet like a prizefighter who refuses to go down. Eventually, the staff took him into the back room for a second round of sedatives but even this seemed to be no use.
“I think we might have to use a little bit of force,” the veterinarian said to me, her voice quiet and level.
“What do you mean?”
I had stepped out of the comfort room for a moment and was conferring with the staff members from the rescue organization when the veterinarian approached me.
“We can’t give him anymore sedatives, at least not in the way that we’ve been doing,” she said. “But if we can get a catheter into his leg I should be able to get him into a more calm state.”
“We need to talk about this,” I murmured, indicating towards the closed-door of the comfort room. My heart began to race as I walked back towards the room, and as I opened the door I saw that Adrienne had moved to the floor and that Dodger was partially lounging in her lap. I began to explain the situation to her, finally stating that it would be best for her to go “get some air” until the catheter was placed. She agreed with me but made me promise to get her when it was time for the end. To this request I nodded dumbly in agreement, my head feeling both heavy and hollow. Inside, I could feel my heart pounding against my sternum, as if it had been recently hit by a defibrillator.
Once Adrienne left I sat alone in the room with Dodger, who trotted over to me and sat between my legs, waiting to be scratched. The door of the comfort room soon opened and in walked not one but two vet techs and the veterinarian. Handing me a towel, the veterinarian asked me to place it loosely over Dodger’s head, who at this point seemed to be finally feeling the effects of the drugs, although he still managed to slowly lumber to his feet and begin growling.
I complied with this request but with some hesitation. Dodger had already been pushed to the breaking point through this experience, and it didn’t seem that taking away his vision was going to do anything but exacerbate the situation. Still, when I draped the towel around his head he didn’t violently resist, which was something. The only real reaction was that his growling became more intense, and I could feel his hot breath even through the thick, maroon fabric of the towel.
To their credit, the staff moved quickly, expertly. They carefully yet forcefully flipped Dodger onto his side and held him in place. I positioned myself near his head at the staff’s urging and began to pet and talk to him.
“Good boy Dodger; it’s going to be ok,” I choked out repeatedly, stroking his towel-wrapped head.
“Don’t let him move,” the veterinarian hissed quietly to her support staff, dropping down onto her knees near Dodger’s lower legs, catheter equipment in hand. “You can’t let him move,” she continued, readying a small, electric razor, alcohol swabs and the thin needle necessary for insertion.
“It’s almost over, Dodger. Good boy.”
Even in such traumatic circumstances, the speed in which the veterinarian carried out this multi-step procedure impressed me. Clearly, this was a professional at work. Despite the cramped quarters and the awkward positioning of Dodger’s body wedged between three people, a small portion of his lower thigh was quickly shaved and cleaned.
Wasting no time, the vet inserted the thin needle, which slid effortlessly into the exposed, powdery white flesh of Dodger’s leg. He had been struggling only slightly during the moments leading up to the needle’s insertion. Its entry seemed to call upon his last reserves of strength. He began to buck wildly, thrashing in the arms of three people in an attempt to get away. All I tried to do was keep cradling his head and prevent it from smashing against the hard floor of the room.
Tears hung at the corners of my eyes throughout all of this but began to unabashedly fall when Dodger started screaming. It wasn’t a long, pitched cry, more of a brief, spastic exclamation. I knew that any pain Dodger was experiencing was probably minimal, although blood had begun flowing from the needle’s entry point, twisting around the curve of his leg before splattering to the ground. Instead, Dodger’s yelping seemed filled with nothing but fear: a deep, agonized expression of not understanding the what or the why of his situation. Feelings of guilt, terror and utter impotence welled up within me. I wanted to comfort him, but there was nothing to do.
Then Adrienne was next to me, crouching down on my level. Dodger’s breathing and movements began slowing down as the catheter was placed and additional drugs introduced to his system. “Whenever you’re ready,” the veterinarian said to Adrienne and myself, holding the final injection. Dodger’s head had been uncovered by the towel by this point and was lying on the ground. He was staring straight ahead with eyes that were halfway open and foggy. His body no longer seemed possessed by that uncontrollable anxiety that we had come to know so well.
Goodbye, I thought to myself, as Adrienne and I collectively petted him. After another moment we both looked at the veterinarian and nodded.
The shot was administered and then he was gone, every single aspect disappeared, aside from a body which looked doll-like, almost comically fake. Afterwards, before leaving the clinic, we thanked the veterinarian sincerely for her great work. Outside, we spoke for a few moments with the members of the rescue organization, who had gamely stayed at the clinic despite the entire ordeal taking nearly two hours.
In the end though, Adrienne and I were left with only each other, and we both looked and felt like we had been in some sort of great struggle. For me, nearly every part of my body ached, and my right leg could not stop shaking. I felt drained, malnourished and dominated by erratic and fluid emotions. One moment I would break down in tears and in the next be making odd jokes to which I would cackle like some sort of frenzied hyena. As I’ve often done in times of emotional stress I soon found myself dialing my father’s number, interrupting his dinner in Minnesota with a phone call that consisted largely of me choking on my words and trying to hold back tears.
In an act which surely speaks to the cosmic order (or perhaps dumb luck), there was a liquor store located directly next to the clinic, whose walls offered the conscious-killing pleasures of craft beer. Once we had sufficiently calmed down, we gravitated towards this establishment like lost spirits damned to eternally haunt the Earth. Back home, I found myself again wrecked by grief, even with the numbing power of liquor coursing through my veins. Throughout the night I gradually became obsessed with several unanswerable question, such as if Dodger had been fearful when he died and if he had known that he was loved when he was with us.
Since then I’ve had ample time to reflect, not just on its tangible reality but on my own relationship to the events. Being a strident atheist I certainly don’t see what happened to Dodger as being part of some grand plan, whose meaning and justification is just beyond my spectrum of understanding. The simple, brutal reality is that not everything gets to live. Not everything is capable of carrying on with the act of living.
Yet, I also can’t see it as being completely meaningless. Because while I will never know if Dodger was afraid during his death or understand the larger nature of his experience, knowing him and caring for him helped me understand my own human experience a bit more.
No, this doesn’t involve me suddenly becoming endowed with a more optimistic outlook or somehow seeing more clearly the inherent value of all life. It does however give me a greater sensitivity for how we are all governed by something immaterial, internal, a will that animates us until the one day it finally doesn’t. Like Dodger, who seemed at the mercy of something invisible and unknowable, it’s unclear if we have real agency in our lives or if we are all just pulled along, our behavior little more than blunt reactions to internalized stimuli.
That’s why, as I write these words, I now feel ok about what happened to Dodger, at least the part that I played in his journey. Whatever else happened over the course of his life, for a few weeks he lived with two people who did their best to show him love. We tried to help him manage an energy, a will, a soul, or whatever else you want to call it, that was slowly destroying him. In that process we had our own wills changed, in a way I believe was for the better. And while Dodger is gone, and while we’re never going to see him, or touch him, or play with him again, that is the part of him that will continue to last.