When I was thirteen years old, I was in eighth grade and nominated for some “outstanding citizen/student” bullshit award. It involved lots of meetings, for some stupid reason. I still have the plaque; it’s been collecting dust for over a decade at this point. Anyway, lots of meetings meant commitments that neither of my parents wanted to keep, for various reasons, but my mom was responsible enough to go to/take me to the meetings when necessary. Then she’d get stressed out and yell at me a lot.
One particular day, we spent the whole car ride home arguing. It involved lots of tears, on my end, because I fail at life and cry a lot. Sue me. Anyway, my mother was less than impressed with whatever fancy card-stock award or instructions or contract or deal with the devil -whatever it was I had; I forget- and stormed inside.
Crying, I went outside with my backpack and flung all of my supplies on the ground. I then proceeded to very dramatically collapse to the ground and martyr myself in a miserable mess of tears. My two dogs, Toby and Takato, both came over to see me.
Toby was a snarky little shit, who just wanted to play fetch/kick the ball with me. I patted his head, and then he ran off to find his toys. Takato, on the other hand, was a sensitive dog and I was his favorite person. So he plopped all 60 pounds of himself right onto my lap and began to furiously lick my tears away. Thankfully, this was before his senior-age coprophagic days, and also before his heyday as a notorious bird and squirrel murderer.
It was comforting, but what I distinctly remember was that fancy/important paper blowing away in the wind. I didn’t bother to get up and grab it. Toby saw the fun new object and ran over to gleefully destroy it. But Takato, despite being the consummate beta dog and a total wuss, jumped off my lap and growled at Toby before Toby could tear up the paper. Once the other dog had backed down, Takato picked the paper up by the teensiest little corner, as if he knew it was important, and brought it back to me.
That was just the kind of dog Takato was – always sensitive, and always sweet, and normally afraid of his own shadow. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body (unless you were a starling or a squirrel). He also chose me. We were looking at puppies in the pet store back before we knew better than to support such awful establishments, and he had been there for a while. I held him, and he immediately warmed up to me. My mom was so charmed that she bought him for me as a birthday present. He was always my dog, and always the best friend you could ask for (well, I would ask for less poop-eating and less odoriferous farts, but that didn’t affect his loyalty or affection).
Sadly, on Friday, Takato abruptly started having massive seizures and coughing up blood, so my mom made the decision to have him put to sleep immediately to spare him the pain. Unfortunately, I was at work, so I didn’t know and didn’t get to say goodbye. But, thank you, Takato, for always being such a good dog and loyal friend. I will miss you.