Friday, June 18, 2010

Petruccio is Buried

This morning when I called Comcast to talk to their billing department, I reached Granada. My phone representative was an eager vuvuzela player who tried to recruit me as a tourist to his home island. I told him, this year, we’re going to Kentucky.

Then he asked how my morning went. I gave him the vague answer. “Okay.”

His computer system was in slow-poke mode, so he pressed me for details while we waited for it to find my account.

“I took my dog to the vet and had him put to sleep,” I told him.

The young man was horrified. “Why would you do that?” he demanded.

My dog was 19 years old. He hadn’t eaten or drunk water in 3 days. He didn’t even want treats. He wasn’t going for walks. He was miserable and I didn’t want him to suffer.

“Oh,” said my representative. “I apologize for being insensitive.”

I didn’t take his comment as insensitive. This was new to him. He had no idea why anybody would have a pet put to sleep. I wanted to say euthanized, but I had the sense that this man’s English didn’t include that word.

Making the decision was easier than actually getting it done.

I called the vet for an appointment. I seemed to have bad timing. For several days, all I got was the answering machine. They called back when I wasn’t in. Finally they said, just bring him in. They take 10 pets in the morning without appointments. The first 10 pets to arrive get seen. The clinic opens at 8 AM. They suggested we arrive by 7:15. We did. We were the 5th to arrive.

Petruccio has been with us for 11 years. He was 8 years old when we got him at the animal shelter. Buffy, our poodle mutt, picked him out. She was lonely after our older dog, Dante, died. We’d have done anything for Buffy. Buffy always ran to greet us when we came home. Buffy snuggled in our laps. Buffy smiled. Buffy taught other dogs to smile. Buffy exemplified why people have dogs.

We took Buffy to the animal shelter and let her pick out her favorite dog. Okay, it had to be a male dog, because my husband likes male dogs, and this dog was going to fit into Dante’s niche – the male dog, top dog position.

As soon as Buffy picked out Petruccio, he tried to mount her. She growled him off. Immediately, we knew what his name had to be: Petruccio, the most famous rejected suitor in literature. Before he came to live with us, his name was Cappuccino. This dog was nobody’s cup of coffee.

When we walked them, Buffy smiled at everybody we passed. Other dogs sniffed her, and she sniffed them. She sniffed children. She sniffed plants. She loved going for walks. Petruccio barked at every dog we passed. He tried to attack them. The only dog on the entire planet he liked was Buffy. And she did not want him the way he wanted her.

Petruccio did his job. He played with Buffy. But he did not run to greet us when we came home. He did not snuggle us. If we picked him up and put him in our laps, he’d sit there a while and then move on. After Buffy died, he had very little interest in us, But he did not ask us for another dog to play with. We walked him. We protected him from the other dogs when he barked at them. He did learn to let children pet him when we took him for his daily walks.

A couple of years ago, he lost the ability to climb stairs safely. We put up a baby gate that we had to climb over to go upstairs to bed at night and downstairs to the world in the morning. Several months ago he became so clumsy, walking up behind us in the kitchen, tripping us when we stepped backwards, that we put him in the playpen, and only took him out for walks and laps.

We carried him home from the vet, and buried him in the garden where Buffy and Dante and several neighbors’ cats are buried. That was less than an hour ago.

I’m basically a selfish person. I only get pets because I want a happy creature in the house who is always glad to see me. I don’t know why Petruccio wanted humans. Petruccio wasn’t happy to see me come home. He wasn’t happy to snuggle in my lap. It was as if he was a prostitute dog, going through the motions in order to get fed.

When we got him from the shelter, we made the agreement to take care of him until the end. We did that.

The end.

The representative’s computer still hadn’t found my account. I decided to call a local number and talk to the President’s office.


  1. I loved this whole post. I wonder if you will get another dog? It is a whole new world of non-responsibility, but lacking the happiness of being greeted at home. Unless, of course, you get another old curmudgeon. But why get one. I am sorry for your loss however, you had him for years. Love, Alison

  2. I am sorry for what you had to go through with your dog. I know how you feel. We had a very loving cat (Emily), who died all too young due to cancer. Her companion was a somewhat indifferent, snoot of a cat (Penny), who lived to be 20. She was kind of a doormat in her later years. Now we have a soon-to-be-born grandchild who only by coincidence, will be named the same as the loving cat. Thank goodness she will not be named the same as the snoot.

    Perhaps Buffy saw qualities in Petruccio, which you did not realize. Maybe she sought another dog who would not compete for your love, lap, and attention.

  3. Alison, thank you. We do miss him. I bent down to put my frying pan on the floor, and remembered that there is no reason to do that now. I'm interested in getting rescued bunnies, but I don't think that will happen soon.

    Sharyn, How wonderful that your next grandchild will have a name you already love. Buffy was not a clever dog -- she must have seen something she liked in Petruccio.