My life as a member of the family—a four legged point of view
I will always remember fondly when Kent—a name I would come to learn—plucked me up from the midst of my brothers and sisters. He had his pick of the litter, a choice of many cute little puppies, but for some reason he reached down and said in a gruff voice, “I guess I’ll take this one. He’s big. I like him.”
I liked him immediately, too. So he snatched me up, put me in the back of his truck as I chirped my approval, and drove off into the unknown. Boy, I was excited to be going somewhere, anywhere.
When we arrived at our destination, he opened his truck and placed me down into a big fenced-in back yard that had space to roam and a giant pecan tree towering over an old wooden shed with a lean-to attached—a perfect spot for hot summer days. Soon enough I had sniffed out an area behind the shed that contained two rotten fence posts, giving me a route to freedom. You see, I always wanted to explore, and I was already seeking my escape.
“Axl, your new home,” said Kent.
Axl—was that my name? I liked it right off. It sounded like me.
Here’s the thing about dogs—we appreciate everything and take nothing for granted: a sock, yard of rope, a tennis ball are just as good as anything you can buy at one of those big-box dog stores.
But the thing we like best—is people. Good people. And we can spot the ones we like right off.
I could tell a person’s intentions and sense his nature immediately. The good ones I would protect them with my life. The bad ones, well, let’s just say that those people who called me “Mr. Vicious” didn’t call me that for nothing. But to the people I loved, I was gentle as could be.
The first three years of my life were glorious, although I was everything but. I missed my mom, so I nipped. I was adventurous, so I escaped—over and over. I was scared of lightning and thunder, so I wailed and barked. Which got me put into the laundry room.
But back then, before the kids, I was numero uno. Kent tried to train me and teach me how to fetch, and I was good at it, too. Long walks around the neighborhood were a particular treat. I especially loved when he would take me to the railroad and let me walk across its rails. Sometimes he would even take me to the locks and let me ramble along the water. Good times.
But my favorite times were when he would lay on his hammock in the backyard and I was the loyal companion by his side. When the wind would blow or I heard something rustling in the trees, my ears would poke up and Kent would stroke my head. I have to admit sometimes I would fake it just so he would pet me. Of all the things I loved in that world: treats, cool grass, cold water; it was those lazy Sundays under that pecan tree that I remember the most. A special time. That’s the greatest gift ever given. It cost nothing, yet it was priceless.
When a sweet little girl was added to the family, we moved and bought a bigger house with a smaller backyard. That meant less area for me to roam and more time for me to plan escape excursions. It wasn’t all bad; I met Grandma and she fed me big-time.
She always would sneak me treats during the day even when the family and the doctor told her I was too big. “Look at that petty little amount of food you give him,” I would hear her tell Kent. “The boy’s hungry.” I was too. I loved Grandma.
Life wasn’t all fig trees and dog treats, however. There were regrets as well, as any life is sure to have. Kent regretted not spending enough time with me as I got older, not exercising with me to keep my weight down, and neglecting to put my flea medicine on in a timely manner. I wasn’t perfect either. I never did get that “no jumping on people” thing down. I just loved to play. And I know I caused them a lot of pain when I broke out of my fence yet again when that bad storm came, and hid under a house a block away. I stayed there for two days. I know the family was worried sick about me, but I was going to make sure that storm had passed before I came out from under that house. I can still remember the relief on Kent’s face when I came barreling around the corner, starving like a big dog, and into my yard and his waiting arms. But in truth, all those things didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I never worried about the future or the past. I lived in the moment. Those moments with the family, running and laughing and watching them were the best.
I never did get to be that lazy old dog that would sit quietly all day like I thought I would. The pain in my stomach was getting worse and worse and I knew something wasn’t right.
When I finally lost my ravenous appetite, I knew the end was near. I’ll never forget the look on Kent’s face when I gazed at him through the window from the backyard, sitting on my haunches and trying to tell him goodbye. He spotted me from the kitchen, and stared at me for the longest time. He was mouthing something I couldn’t hear, but then stopped. He didn’t have to say anything. We each knew what the other was thinking.
About his dog, contributor Kent Landry tells us, “Axl Landry lived eight, good-eating, fun loving years. I like to believe he enjoyed every moment.”