Friday, March 7, 2008


I was 8 years old when my parents and I made the fateful trip to Walmart. At eight I had hardly a care in the world save for what new toy might await me on this particular outing. Unfortunately for my parents, a new distraction stood guard over those fancy automatic-entrance doors. A distraction in the guise of a cardboard box, on the front of which was scrawled two glorious words:

Free Puppies

That's right. Free. And puppies. Two words that should never come together around me even now. I was and still am an animal lover, so naturally I had to look. You know, just look - like, it's no big deal mom and dad, I only wanna look at the cute lil' puppies.  So I looked, petted, made a lot of 'oh, so cute!' noises, and reluctantly was dragged away by my parents, who actually did have some shopping to do. The only problem was that then and there I had fallen in love. And I was determined (stubborn). The entire time we were in Walmart (which I hazard to guess was at least half an hour, maybe more) I pitched a royal fit. Not the angry stomping kind, which I was also well known for. No, instead I opted for crying, begging, pleading, and making deals. And finally it worked! So on the way out of the store we stopped at the miracle box again and picked a puppy.  I remember distinctly that we got the last male because as we were walking away I overheard a man asking if there were any boys left. To which the puppy-giver replied, "No, they took the last one."

On the drive home I held him most of the way. At first I almost didn't feel like I was allowed. Like somehow I was breaking any number of rules as I had never had my own puppy before. But he didn't like being on the floor of our van, and he kept whimpering and to be quite honest I just couldn't keep from picking him up. When we got him home he stayed in a box in my room. Well for the nights, of course. During the day we just played.
Anyway,  he loved being a lap dog. Even after he grew up, he still wanted to be right there, curled up and cozy. Of course at his full grown size it was mostly just his head that would fit, but that seemed to work for him.

I couldn't decide what I wanted to name him so we opted to make it a family event. All three of us came up with a few names and popped 'em in a hat. Then we drew to see what we'd go with. Naturally that didn't quite work. The first name we drew was Dad's idea. "Darth Vader". Which, especially looking back, I find particularly funny. But I just couldn't picture calling out "Come here Darth Vader!" Nor could I imagine shortening it to either Darth or Vader. In the end we decided on Cowboy because our little cutie was bow-legged. :)

He always wanted to be close to us. In fact, we ended up putting his doghouse really close to the back door because that's where he spent a lot of time. Well, unless he was indoors...which was far more frequent. When he was still a little puppy he couldn't even make it up the stairs out of our sunroom (which was a 'lower level' room, but only by like three stairs) but when he started getting bigger he realized he could, without help, make it onto our sofa. He liked to lean his head on the arm. Like one time my mom and I were sitting on the sofa watching TV (I want to say it was Gilmore Girls, but I could be mistaken) and Cowboy was laying on the floor. He got up and went to the backdoor, presumably wanting to go outside. I look at mom, she looks at me, and so I give in and get off my lazy behind to go let him out. No sooner had my seat seat before Cowboy was circling back around the sofa to get in my spot. Me and mom just about lost it. And I'm not gonna lie - it was pretty fantastic. Needless to say, we took many pictures.

Cowboy was 12 years old when he died. It was recent. February 25th he passed at the vet's office. I had gone to visit a friend when he got sick, and my mom texted me the next morning to tell me she was taking him to the vet. They put him on an IV and planned to run some blood tests. Apparently he perked up on the IV and went to sleep. And never woke up. Me and mom were eating at Chick-Fila when we got the call, and I just had to leave. I still can't believe he's gone. I grew up with him. He was my best friend. Even though I know he's gone, I still look for him. When our other dog Kelsi starts barking, I wait and listen for his bark. He always stayed in the laundry room and when I walk by I peek in expecting to see him sleeping in the corner.

We had him cremated because he was such a large dog, but one last time I pleaded with my parents for the sake of my dog. For some extra money they placed his ashes in a really nice cedar box. It even has a little plaque with his name on the top. And I keep his collar and leash in my room. It's still very raw for me, and I was actually hoping I'd be feeling better by now. We've always had pets, ever since I can remember. In fact, even now we still have another dog and two cats. But Cowboy was the first and only pet that really felt like all mine. Most of our other pets have been strays that showed up at our house, but Cowboy was ours specifically because of me, because I begged and begged that day at Walmart. I miss my best friend so much and it still hurts to think about.  I wanted this to be more organized but at this point I just really wanted to get some thoughts out and I feel like I've done that. I still have many more memories I could write, and hopefully I will soon. I think it's worth "putting down on paper", if you will, but I just don't think I can do it tonight.

I meant to do a better job of wrapping this up. I suppose in closing all I really want to say is that I think Cowboy is the best dog ever, and he will definitely hold a special place in my heart for as long as I live. 


My best friend closed his eyes last night,
As his head was in my hand.
The Doctors said he was in pain,
And it was hard for him to stand.

The thoughts that scurried through my head,
As I cradled him in my arms.
Were of his younger, puppy years,
And OH...his many charms.

Today, there was no gentle nudge
With an intense "I love you gaze",
Only a heart thats filled with tears
Remembering our joy filled days.

But an Angel just appeared to me,
And he said, "You should cry no more,
GOD also loves our canine friends,
HE's installed a 'doggy-door"!

1 comment:

Daisy said...

I came across this blog my accident - and I just want to say how wonderful it is to find someone who is as much a dog person as I am.

My Roobarb died in 2004 at age 16 and I've still not completely gotten over it. I have a small matt of her fur in a box in my room. She was an amazing pup.

Thanks for making my day :)