Billy's home was empty. His daughter Barbara was about to get married, and she and his wife had gone downstairs to pick out patterns for her crystal and silverware. There was a note saying so on the table. There were no servants. People just weren't interested in careers in domestic service anymore. There wasn't a dog, either.
There used to be a dog named Spot, but he died. So it goes. Billy had liked Spot a lot, and Spot had liked him.
I had a dog once, like Billy. A crazy Cocker Spaniel named Nick. He was my wife's dog before we got married, and we inherited him. Nick was not a well-behaved dog. Protective. Aggressive with strangers. He would steal pizza off your plate and chew up shoes.
Now, I know all of those things weren't Nick's fault. He wasn't trained properly as a puppy, and that carried over into his doghood. Nick could also be very loving. Loved to sit in laps. When I came home from work, he would wag his tail so hard that I thought he would helicopter away.
My wife and I had to make a difficult decision when my daughter was born. Nick was fine when she was an infant and not mobile. However, when she began to crawl and toddle, Nick got really nervous. When she came into the room, Nick always eyed her suspiciously. I started having these dreams of Nick attacking my daughter.
Eventually, my wife and I decided to find Nick a new home. We brought him to the Humane Society. Told them that he would be a great dog for an older person, without small children in the house. I petted Nick one last time. Let him lick my face. Then, I left.
I cried for an entire week.
Now, I don't know to this day if we did the right thing. My wife and I eventually found out that our daughter has severe allergies to animal hair and dander, so we would have eventually had to find Nick another home anyway. But, every now and then, I think about him.
I imagine some older man picking him as a companion. That he would go for long walks with the old man. That he got fat because the old man fed him table scraps all the time. That he would sleep at the foot of the old man's bed, snoring like he always did at night.
Saint Marty is thankful that he had a dog he liked once. And that dog liked him.