by Alwin Jackson
(Pebble Beach, CA)
Doug was a stout little French Bulldog. With a comedic face no cartoonist's imagination could ever conjure. A lazy eye looking off to one side, his head tilted to the other, his tongue too large to fit in his mouth and his nostrils so ridiculously oversized.
Doug was incapable of doing anything that did not produce laughter amongst those in his presence. In his self-appointed position as my home's officer in charge of security, he protected us with his vicious growls at pillows, brooms, the vacuum cleaner, an old paint brush and other such threats to us.
Doug's love, devotion and loyalty were immeasurable. He was my shadow. My guardian. He only ever half-slept, so that one eye could watch over me. I always told people that if I broke my leg in a blizzard, Doug would stay at my side until we both froze.
If it had been me who died before Doug, he would have stood over my body until he, himself, died. That image would have been harder for me to bear than my current grief. Hence, as difficult as the grief of Doug's loss is for me, I take comfort that it is me, not Doug, who must bear the pain of our parting. I am grateful for that. My contract with Doug was to give him the best life I possibly could.
Doug lived a pretty darn good life. Lots of walks in the park. Plenty of days in the no-leash park running free with other lucky dogs. Sleeping in my bed, amidst our whole "pack." Not to mention, he never had to bear the heinous imprisonment of a puppy mill or the captivity of a heartless owner - as so many unfortunate dogs do. Doug received enough love for 10 dogs. His cup runneth over with love, to the point where he would sometimes need a brief respite from being kissed and snuggled with.
And so when his time came, Doug left this world without having suffered much at all.
And particularly, without having to suffer the loss of his master, whom he so dearly loved. That is the thought that comforts me through my grief. Because it is not about me. It is about my dog.
I have been given the fortunate opportunity to endure the grief of our parting, so that my little friend never had to.
And for that, I am grateful.