Copyright 2006 by Juan Antonio
“Time passed by. Each day, I missed her; nowadays, I cry.”
The steady dose of antibiotics throughout the week ends with hopeless results. At once, the Veterinarian operates and removes a big infested tumor along with her ovaries.
Swiftly, beautiful dreams vanish. The diligent pursue for the perfect mate die out. She will never be the proud mother of a gang of Siberian husky puppies. Then again, we feel overjoyed by the outcome. Her cheerful spirit and loving soul rule our house. She is the baby of the family.
Six months after surgery, Mancha moves slower. She looks older. Her enthusiasm for the parks disappears. The hiking trails do not attract her anymore. She lost the interest for the fishing trips. She wants to stay home.
On the other hand, we all wish her active and full of energy. Once again, I close my eyes to dream.
In the darkness of the night, I stretch my arm to reach her down by my bedside to touch those fox-like soft velvet black ears. I love it! She loves it too! It feels great to know she is happy.
The alarm clock interrupts the peaceful atmosphere inside the bedroom. Briefly, I sit on the edge of the bed to gather myself. I avoid stepping on her. I use both feet to find the sleepers; they feel cozy beneath her.
"Girl, you always complicate my life! Why you do not use your bed?" She sits and wiggles her tail.
"You like to put that cold wet nose of yours on my face in the middle of the night!” Mancha lowers her ears and moves the head happy with the attention
“You and your blue eyes! You always get me out of the bed, girl. I bet you would not like it if I do that to you!" She kisses the closest hand.
"Not only you have to go out. I have to wait until you finish!” She growls and places herself by the doorway. Now, she barks.
“Hey! Don’t give me orders! Who do you think you are? Gee! Give me a break!" Once I stand up, she leaves and waits for me in the hallway in front of the washroom.
“Yes, yes. Ok! I’ll brush my teeth.” She knows my morning routine.
From the toilet seat, I notice a peak of hairs below the door on the ceramic floor.
"Are you guarding the door, girl?"
She accompanies me to the kitchen for breakfast. Later, she follows me to the dining room where I read the newspaper.
"You think you own my life. Don’t you?" I always say it to her.
Throughout my life, I enjoyed the company of dogs. At birth, Malabar waited for me at home to share my room with his bed under my crib. Often, my grandmother ordered her big and tough Clarion to go along with me and my sling during my mischievous adventures on the wild forested hills not far from her house. Also, into my existence came Black Mouth, Princess, Wrestler, Captain, Rocky, Venom, Dominoes, and Flat Face.
I left Guardian aside because he was gifted; he knew me well and was my outdoor partner thirty years ago. Guardian had a great brain and we made a great duo; although, he never had any sincere interest for other dogs or persons including children.
Mancha is smarter and truly cares for others. She loves people, and craves to share attention. Somehow, she senses when any of our four children take a break from school to come home; she lies down beside his or her bed until the arrival. During my wife’s illness, every morning, Mancha inspected underneath the bed blankets looking for her; she went nuts running wild all over the place the day of her return from the hospital. We all have numerous reminiscences involving her.
The kitchen clock indicates twelve twenty past noontime. Still, I have not gone outside. Usually, I do my chores during morning hours. Today, we have scorching summer temperatures. I notice the dog food intact inside the bowl. Mancha only had a few drinks of water. For an instance, it looks as if an inside pain bothers her.
She asks to go out for her needs. I accompany her to the backyard. Her walk looks different. Abruptly, near the center of the back fence, she stops. She stays still like frozen on the spot. The hairs along the backbone become erected, and her whole body arches. She swivels her head and stares at me with bright glassy eyes. She needs help!
It seems like lightning strikes her with mighty power. Twice, her whole body trembles. She falls on her left side over the grass. She does not move anymore. Then, her tongue comes out; it has a dark blue color.
I watch paralyzed, shocked. The sequence of events occurs fast, violently. The situation surprises me. I feel panic! It is the first time ever in my life. The weirdness of this sudden experience takes me to a flash stage of impulsive crying and begging. After twenty or thirty seconds, I jump on top of her with all my energy. I massage hard her upper body trying to revive her. I shout at the same time.
"Mancha! Please, don't do this! Please!" I repeat many things; I cannot recall the rest of them. Ten minutes later, I sweat all over. I scrutinize her trying to find a sign of life anywhere.
"She is gone!" I cry loud.
A bizarre sense of defeat grabs me. Inside, it hurts and my torso feels tight. I have no tears. In disbelief, I sit beside her. Loneliness surrounds me. Weird sensations pass by my head. My guilt grows without control.
"I, Mr. Tough Guy, Mr. Know It All, Mr. Good For Nothing!" I whine.
"How can I explain it to my daughter? Mancha died right in front of me." I feel ashamed of myself, useless.
"Why, I did not make her medical appointment sooner?”
Deep inside, I know the veterinarian would have put her to rest. Lately, her health deteriorated rapidly. Cowardly, I avoided the unavoidable. I did not want to let her go.
Since she passed away, I care less for the walks in the park. The fishing trips lost their charm. These past few months, I played with the idea of giving up my outside activities. I want to find another hobby, closer to home. The parades of memories persisted throughout my recent scarce outdoor trips. We had six full years of adventures.
Hailstorms made us run underneath trees to avoid the pounding. On hard water season, she pulled the sled with the fishing gear. I recall on one occasion, we passed near some guys doing ice fishing.
"I have three dogs at home bigger than yours. Man! They sleep and eat like elephants. What a waist! Your dog, that is a real friend!" One of them commented with a loud tone. Proud, I raised my hand to salute smiling and continued my pace beside her.
Once in a while, a winter storm caught us in the middle of Lake Simcoe, Ontario. We used the sled and her blanket as shelters until it was over. In autumn, we enjoyed watching the salmon runs; in the shallow areas, she chased them. After the winter, along the river banks, we inspected the rainbow runs before the opening fishing day. Watching her swimming made my heart pound with joy. Every place we went, she owned it.
Many complemented her respectful manners. On countless occasions, questions came up about her canine training. She never had any. She just paid attention to our commands. Always, the whole family used the same words for her.
At home, we gave her the same love and respect as to any of our children. As them, she was independent, confident, and never afraid of the unknown. Her energy and happy presence filled the emptiness left by them away at school.
During our outdoor journeys, some persons criticized me for letting her roam on her own, for hours. She is a Husky, they acknowledged; she never failed to come back. She discerned when to stay away from unfriendly persons or afraid of dogs. All over the place, she radiated happiness with her beauty and friendly attitude.
Since she was seven weeks old, my daughter took her to the schoolyard to play with other children. Also, it was a heartwarming experience to allow her to jump into truck cabins to visit her friends with walking disabilities; nowadays, they miss her when I see them at the parks or on the waterside fishing from inside their vehicles.
Every night, Mancha used to play with two dogs who came to visit her from somewhere in the neighborhood, a Jack Russell and a German Pointer/Dalmatian mix. After that tragic Monday, they continued coming for the next three nights. As usual, they sat on the entrance crying/howling/barking and left after midnight. On Friday night, they stayed in the backyard. At six in the morning, they were there when I left the home. Around noontime, I returned and found an animal control vehicle along with a police car facing the house. One of the police officers, the taller one, waited for me to finish parking my vehicle on the driveway.
"Good morning, sir. Are these your dogs?"
"Good morning, officer. No, I have no idea who might be the owner. They are friends of my dog who passed away earlier this week."
"Oh, sorry to hear that." He replied pausing for a second.
"We asked other persons in the area and no one knows where they come from." Then, he excused himself to consult the other officer.
For a few minutes, I chatted with some of the persons gathered in front of the house. Earlier,, the old man next door tried to shoo them away using a shoe. One of the dogs bit him. He required stitches on his right hand. The event provoked a commotion. His relatives and other neighbors seemed to be enraged by the situation.
"The owner of the bigger dog that caused the problem might be in some trouble." The tall police officer came back to comment with a voice for everyone to hear.
"The sooner he or she comes to the police station to talk to us, the better," he finished saying. Next, he proceeded to instruct the animal control officers. They carried on and placed both dogs into the municipal van.
"I hope, very soon, the owner picks them up from the animal control jail." I spoke loud looking at the whole group. Then, I went into the house to continue with my routine.
Mancha and I shared a deep passion for the outdoors. Nonetheless, she loved more the return at the end of our trips. The word home had a magic sound for her.
"Let's go home girl." This shout brought her from anywhere running like a rocket. A few occasions, nights got me hiking with her on different forest trails. Regularly, I avoided the use of the flashlight to generate the perfect excuse to call for her assistance.
"Mancha! I want to go home, girl?" It did not take me long to notice the flashing of her white shadow through the woods flying in my direction. After greeting me with her usual affection, she led the way to the car wiggling her furry tail.
"God, she made us all, so proud!"
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