This morning Diamondqueen made the brave and totally correct decision to have Frank, her ailing family dog, put down. Her explanation and tribute are here; I have a few thoughts of my own.
Frank was a big, goofy sweetheart. He rejoiced in both giving love and taking love, and he was a cuddler. Um, actually, that’s one area where he could have used some improvement. He was a great one to let you wrap your arms around him, but eventually he’d find a way to position himself for his favorite kind of physical contact: He’d rest his penis on your foot. Whether I was sitting on the couch or lying on the floor with one knee crossed, it wouldn’t be long before Frank sidled his lanky self over and carefully “fit” himself over my foot. No leg-riding or other crude behavior, just that sly move as if he was thinking, “If I do this slowly enough, she won’t notice my thing on her shoe.”
Frank had been sick with lymphoma since last August, taking regular treatments. Once I found a pill on the front carpet that he apparently had spit out. I carried it to Diamondqueen, whose face morphed into “The Scream” as she howled, “Don’t touch that! It’s radioactive!” (If I wind up having to take radioactive pills, I promise not to spit them out on the front room carpet the way Frank did.)
I cried a lot over Frank the first autumn he was with Diamondqueen, That Poor Man, and J. Hooligan. He always gave the impression of being a lovable, harmless doofus, unless a delivery person came onto the porch. Then he roared up out of the drapes like the original hound loosed from hell.
Unfortunately, he slipped out the front door once when the paperboy was collecting. The boy ran, and Frank nipped him. I never believed it was antagonistic, but official reports had to be made. Frank had a strike against him, and it appeared he might have to go. After lots of weeping all that October, Diamondqueen squared her shoulders and got in touch with a good training program. Not only was Frank’s membership in the household saved, he even won his proud mama a rosette as “most improved” in his training group. There was never another problem of public aggression with him.
Poor Diamondqueen, though, had to deal with Frank’s puzzling habit of hiking his leg on everything, including Christmas gifts. The years I received a vacuum sweeper and a new white rolling suitcase, Diamondqueen had to hose them down a couple of times because of Frank’s tendency to “enhance” them in his own way. He was hard on drapes and the family room ottoman. Vets could never determine a physical reason for his behavior.
Frank loved to kiss and could really slip in that tongue if you weren’t careful. I had to watch it in later years because A) he always got his water from the toilet bowl, even when his own water bowl was full; and B) he’d taken to noshing out of the cats’ litterbox. I loved him, but I just couldn’t get past that. I always felt guilty, though, when we swerved into an air kiss. I used to kiss him flat on the mouth.
Frank got to be here for one more Sunday visit to his Grandma’s this past week. I couldn’t get down on the floor to nestle with him as I usually did, but he kept drifting in and out of the bedroom where I was trying to get comfortable on the bed (Mom and I have swapped beds until I can lie comfortably on my side again; hers tilts to a sitting position). I wasn’t sure if Frank truly understood I was there or not. I think he partly was attracted to the mint nougats Mom has on her bedside table. Twice he almost got his head stuck foraging between the bed and the table. Then he’d pop loose and grin up at me like Spicoli in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” (“I know that dude!”)
Once I called him from the bedroom as he paced past. As usual, he looked startled, darting from doorway to doorway and peering at the ceiling as if wondering where that voice was coming from. I did get to put my face next to his big, goofy smile and give him a hug one last time.
I didn’t know it was the last time, but I’ve been saying good-bye to Frank for months. We had a bad scare in February when I was sure we were taking him in to be put to asleep, but they treated him for pancreatitis and released him. I said good-bye to him the night before we left for Gettysburg in case he wouldn’t be there when we got home. I only hoped to see him again after I got out of the hospital.
On Sunday I thanked him for holding on through his mother’s absence so she could make it home and hug him once more; and for holding on during my own physical crisis so Diamondqueen wouldn’t have to cope with that at the same time. It’s almost as if he made sure everything was taken care of and right and then he was ready. I couldn’t go along to the vet hospital this morning for that final goodbye, but I thought of him all morning, and I see him when I close my eyes.