My mom came home with you one day. "Oh god" my dad said rolling his eyes, but then started laughing. Laughing because when my mom really wants something and my dad says "no," "no" suddenly starts to sound like maybe which eventually becomes "yes." The wish list becomes the "well I already bought it so don't worry about it" list. But that's okay. My dad does this to her too, i.e. buying an ancient lamp that costed a small fortune. and how can my dad really say no when this dog is looking up at him with troubled amber eyes relieved of a prompt execution. So I saw you timidly walking down the steps to your new life. I gave you a tour and you gave me uncertain looks.
You were a funny looking beast. Fat and white with orangey spots, eyes that were outlined black and an orange tail dipped in black at the tip. I called you cow. Nicknames come with affection. As soon as you relaxed and these strange smells became familiar and secure we learned you could be fiercely loyal to us. Your previous owners just dumped you outside of a shelter in a basket. How could you not grit your teeth at anyone who approached us, we rescued you! It wasn't just other people though, it was when my family and I hugged, patted, played, more than softly touched. You cried out as though you feared an impending crisis in every embrace. "Mirus! It's okay, dog, it's okay!" we would say to you. We would pet you. "Calm down, dog." Soothing words helped temporarily but there was no hope of introducing you to others. Everyone was threatening to you, except for us of course. I imagined you grew up in a violent home where people do not hug. A home where a raised voice always meant something frightening. "What have you seen Cow?" I would ask you, but you could not tell me.
I knew the neighbors hated you. Your bark was sharp and ever present. You wanted to fucking kill the UPS man. You were suspicious of my friends, my grandma, even tiny children. You could be coaxed with treats sometimes but you would actually growl while chewing them, which was also kind of impressive. Some outsiders earned small bouts of trust but that would be forgotten after awhile. When we took you somewhere in the car you would stick your head out of the window and growl at people outside no matter what speed your snarled lips were flapping. I knew you meant well, but people who were nearly bitten by you did not understand this. You can't tell a parent who watches their small child almost get attacked by your dog- that your dog really is a big sweetheart inside, that he means well. When there was the unfortunate opportunity for you to escape- the gate was left open, a hole was dug, a fear grew in my eyes, a fear like the one I saw in your eyes when someone new came to the door. This happened a few times, and one time a very alarmed and angry father came to the door and told my mother how close your teeth were to his son's skin. I then thought of a story my mother told me about my brother being two years old and in the face of a large menacing dog. "I would have killed that dog if I had to," she said very solemnly to me. You could have killed that boy, Cow. You could have been killed too. My mom made a difficult decision after this incident. You couldn't escape anymore. We loved you, but parents love their children too. My mother understood this protective love very clearly. "I would have killed that dog" the words echoed in my head. So one day when I was in San Jose living my college life my mother called me and told me she had decided you could not exist in this world anymore because you were dangerous. You thought everyone else was the enemy and you had become one in defense. I burst into tears. "How can you take away my dog?" I cried angrily. I knew the logic in her decision but I was angry. I was an hour away from home and you were scheduled to die in 2 hours. Interestingly those were the circumstances in which we first met you and took you into our home. You were supposed to die the day before but we saved you. We ended you. My friend drove me home, a quietly intense drive. I ran down the steps to my childhood home and threw my arms around your orange spots and sobbed into your fur. "My cow" I kept crying, and despite the circumstances, I laughed at this nickname I gave you and how happy you were to respond to it. It was time to go. You sat in my lap, much too big for it, but I wanted you there. The last time you would be there. You whined before we even went inside the clinic. You had a sense. There was a heaviness in the air. You smelled the fear. You tried to crawl up onto my mom's lap. You were seeking protection there, you knew something was not right. You knew and we knew. We falsely assured you and scratched your ears. "It's okay, dog, it's okay." Your eyes were pulling at us for help but we could not help. We watched an instrument of your end slide into your leg and your spots sank into the floor. We lay next to you for awhile, talking to you still. Time to go. It's okay dog, it's okay. Even during the car ride back, I still expected to see you waiting for us at home.