Monday, December 15, 2008


I have never been very fond of dogs, mainly because of their smell, but also because most seem inclined to jump up on me unexpectedly while slobbering. Having said this, I once had the good fortune to get to know a dog named 'Spitball', and ever since, well, if my life was such that I could have a dog, I would try to find one like Spitball.

Spitball was the dog of my daughter's husband who had played baseball avidly as a youngster and named his dog after a special kind of baseball throw. My daughter married into their relationship, along with her cat, and while the cat never really adjusted to her new circumstances, Spitball was quite happy to have another human being in his life, another animal to hang out with, and extra (cat)food sometimes when no one was paying attention.

I first met him shortly before my daughter's wedding. He was well-behaved - not the kind of dog who jumped up or slobbered on me - which made it easy to like him, and I found him very nice looking in spite of him being somewhat overweight. We didn't really spend too much time together, though, and I felt content to appreciate him from a distance. The most memorable event during my visit was that, while we were all out at a pre-wedding dinner, he found and ate a box and a half of the chocolates that I had brought from Europe as a gift for my younger sister. She was so mad, but I thought it was kind of funny, especially since parts of the cardboard chocolate boxes and plastic wrapping had also disappeared, never to be seen again. I later heard that chocolate is poisonous for dogs, but he was not affected in the least, and lived for many more years.

I didn't see him again until some years later when my daughter was about to give birth to her first child. He had lost a lot of weight since our first meeting, and was noticably older, but still of good cheer and as hungry as ever. Because of my daughter's condition, I helped out by going on daily walks with him. I'm not a very active person by nature, so at first this was a little hard for me, but I soon grew to look forward to our daily outings and really enjoyed spending time with him in this way.

We could not always take him with us when we would all go out together somewhere. On those occasions, they would put him in a special cage until we returned home (this because he had, in the past, done unforgiveable things like getting into the garbage, eating things he shouldn't have eaten, and doing other things that should not be mentioned). Whenever he was put into this cage, he would howl and howl until he was let out again, and I found this heartbreaking.

On a few occasions when I was at home alone with him and had to go out for something, I would take him with me because I just could not bear to put him into the cage. He became my pal - my buddy - totally accepting going out with me, a relative stranger. He was always very quiet, but excited in a subdued sort of way that he was going somewhere. Once, I took him with me to a friend's house. My friend also had a dog, and three ferrets that were allowed to run free, and a small pond with fish, and several cats. Spitball had such a great time hunting the ferrets, chasing the cats, drinking water from the fish pond, and hanging out with the other dog, and I felt glad that I had brought him with me to enjoy this different world.

Spitball had very kind eyes and such a pure heart that I could not help but love him. He taught me that non-human creatures are innocent and have no badness in them. Even though he is no longer here, I sometimes feel like he is with me, and I will always feel thankful to have known him and to have experienced his goodness for a little while.

1 comment:

Tango daddy said...

It's good for the inside of a human to look after the outside of an animal.