The Other Spanky (and Coburn)

Part I: The Other Spanky

There’s another Spanky in the family, Blane and Angela’s dog. She’s a mutt Angela got about five years ago. Someone brought her in to the vet’s where she works. The pup was just 1 day old and the owner wanted to put it to sleep because it was born with a cleft palate.

Now Blane used to make jokes about the vet’s. About how they put more animals to sleep there than they saved. And Angela had just been saying how some new girl at the office wouldn’t cut it in this business because she cried every time they had to put down an animal.

I don’t know how it all went down that day, why Angela didn’t put that dog down. Maybe she didn’t want to do it while the new (sensitive) girl was around. She kept the pup in her pocket at work all day and by the time 5 O’clock rolled around, Angela couldn’t manage to put down the doggie.

I mean, could you?

She got some feeding tubes, puppy formula, and made a commitment to save her. A month or two later a vet friend of hers sewed up Spanky’s palate and she became sort of a normal dog.

Spanky the dog had cowlicks all over her body, eyes that went in two different directions, perpetually bloodshot. She also walked as if she was drunk. We called her “troll dog” because she had this wicked growl with that screwed up palate. She was possesive, too, a bit jealous of Blane, especially when he and Angela moved in together. When it was time for Spanky to go in her crate at night, she’d try to hide. She often stuck just her head under the bed, the rest of her body in full view, but to Spanky, she was deep cover.

She had OCD too, had to make a figure eight in the yard before she did her business.

A couple of days ago she came down with something, got really sick and passed on. Nobody knows what it was.

Part II: Coburn

Liv’s dog Coburn was the biggest German Shepherd I’d ever met. The thing about this dog was he seemed to read minds. You could just look at him a certain way and he’d sit. We’ve been knowing him for a good ten years, visiting just a few days at a time through the years. He never forgot us, even though every year my girls had grown and changed a lot, he never did bark at them as if they were strangers.

On one trip we’d told Liv and Coburn bye for the year, we were going to another place 3 hours away and would continue on with our travels. All evening he was restless. He panted and waited by the door for us to return. It worried Liv. Turns out, we couldn’t find a hotel where we went and had to return to her place. We got back at about 3 AM. Somehow that dog knew we were in a bit of trouble.

In the summer of 2006, when we were telling Coburn goodbye, he whimpered. He’d never done that before. I remember going back one more time and giving him another bear hug. About a month later, he was diagnosed with cancer and given about a month to live. Maybe he knew that would be the last time we’d see him?
Liv had her son dig a deep hole in her backyard in advance. She has a bad back and wanted to make sure he had a proper resting place in case Klaus wasn’t around when the Time came.

Next summer rolls around, we go back and see Coburn again. He doesn’t even look sick.

See? So I’m thinking that dog was misdiagnosed. He looked healthy, a little slow, but hell, he was 12 years old.

The next day, however that dog barely moved. I don’t know where he got all that energy to pretend he wasn’t sick that first day we got there, but it was all gone. A couple of months later, Coburn, too was gone.

Part III: Why I Am Writing About This Depressing Stuff

Well, obviously because these two pets passes away recently. It’s really sad that there are no memorial events for pets. People hurt deeply when they go. I haven’t seen any cards in the sympathy section of the greeting card aisle that are specifically for those kinds of best friends. Maybe they do have them somewhere. But I haven’t seen them.

What about dog angel stories? Ghost dog stories? You ever heard one?

Not until now. Call me crazy if you want (I will revel in it anyway), but I got one for ya.

This last trip to Liv’s? Coburn had been gone for a couple of weeks. I went out and paid my respects to his spot in the backyard. I can’t tell you how empty it felt in that house without him. I think it was the second day at Liv’s, while at her computer, I felt something nudge me in the lower back. I thought for a second, Coburn. Looked around. No one there. And then I thought…

So if you have any kind words to help heal the hearts of Blane and Angela and Liv, feel free to say them here. If you have any pet stories to share, go on ahead. I’m listening.