This is a story I wrote a while back. I hope you like it.
He looked at me with determination. I could see he was all ready to go. I saw sadness in his eyes, but he looked at me with such understanding. What a smart and handsome one he has grown to be. I stroked his head reassuringly as I recalled our experiences.
The host spoke up from the microphone disturbing my thoughts, “Contestant number three: Golden retriever, Jake; age two with owner Elsa…”
As he spoke, Jake and I circled the center; judges watched our every move looking out for any flaws in Jake and in me. They whispered among themselves about us. I grew nervous at how they looked at us; they stalked Jake like hungry vultures spotting out every weakness and getting ready to strike.
It was all over now; the first judging was all over. I bent down and gave Jake a hug as he filled my face with wet slobber.
“Good boy!” I said giggling as I turned my head away from his tongue, “That’s enough now.”
I stood up and hooked his leash to a nearby metal bar and gave him orders to stay put. Shortly afterwards, I walked out of the room.
I reminisced on what took place just then: Jake was ready – so confident and proud. We were signaled to start. Although this was just the preliminary round, I couldn’t help but grow nervous. Jake could feel the tension as well, but he managed a lot better than I had. It was nearly the end of our performance, my mind blanked out – mental block. I couldn’t think what to do and what we’d practiced. I just stood there, frozen, and I couldn’t move. It was air-conditioned but I felt the hear fill my cheeks. Jake was there waiting for a command. He probably sensed my dilemma; he walked straight, up to the limit of his leash and barked at me like he was in command – genius.
The audience watched intently as I nervously walked towards my dog. He continued taking my lead and barked orders to me until our performance ended. The judges exchanged confused, impressed and surprised looks during our performance.
I reached the bleachers after my short walk and sat at an empty seat. I watched the rest of the contestants as they performed. In about an hour or so, the dogs and their handlers were called back to the center.
I got off my seat and walked briskly towards where I left Jake and unclipped is leash from the metal bar. He wagged his tail gratefully as we walked back.
One by one our names were called for recognition. Some other contestants scoffed at me and even glared at Jake. I managed to keep Jake under control although I sensed the tension he felt that moment.
The judges handed down the envelope. The host’s voice filled the entire place as he read the contents of the envelope, “This envelope carries the names of the contestants who have made it to the next round.”
I listened intently as the host called out the dogs and their handlers. Thirty minutes have already passed and only six of us remained uncalled.
“And the last contestant who made it to the next and final round is…” I held my breath and hoped for the best as I prepared myself for the worst. “…contestant number three! Jake and his dog, Elsa!” he gave a hearty and rather contagious laugh, “I’m kidding of course. Golden retriever Jake and his owner Elsa have taken the last spot for the next round. Congratulations!”
As I heard Jake and my name being called my heart skipped a beat. I remained calm as I walked Jake to receive recognition, but inside my mind was a party.
I was nearly in tears as the doctor entered the room. “It is almost time, Elsa. Jake is in a lot of pain. This is what’s best for him. He understands; I’m sure of it. I can’t guarantee you that he won’t feel any pain, but when it’s all over, he will be at rest.” Jake nuzzled my arm in agreement. I looked at his black eyes again and bent over to give him a hug.
My mom entered my room and flicked open the light.
She greeted me sweetly, “Good morning, Elsa. Happy 14th birthday! Open your eyes and come on out and see what we got for you!”
I got out of bed and brushed my hair and teeth lazily.
Still in my pajamas, I pulled myself out of the house to the front yard. To my astonishment, I saw a little ball of golden fur. It was a puppy! Not just any puppy either, it was a Golden. I’ve always wanted one ever since I first saw them.
I thanked my mom as I turned to my new puppy. The dog ran towards me as I bent down.
“It looks like he likes you, dear. What are you naming him?” my mom asked as my dad and sister, Zoe, went out of the house.
“Puppy!” Zoe exclaimed as she noticed the ball of fur that I was holding.
“I think I’ll name him Jake.”
“Jake. Good choice, Elsa.” Commented my father sleepily.
The rest of the day went by and I’ve been able to teach Jake how to play fetch. He was very smart, and really obedient. My dad gave me a book on tricks that I could teach Jake. I scanned the table of contents to see what tricks I could teach him. There was a lot to choose from.
I felt a hand on my shoulder as I continued to sob on my dog’s soft golden fur. I looked up to see my mom. Behind her were Zoe, dad and the vet. Jake gave a whimper. He was in really bad shape and he was suffering from a lot of sicknesses. I couldn’t bear to see him this way. He had to be put to rest even if it has to be this way.
“I’m really sorry, Elsa.” Mom said comfortingly.
“Now is the time, Elsa. Jake will receive his euthanasia shortly. I’ll give you a while to say goodbye.” They all left the room as I sat there beside Jake.
I sent him a mental message that I’m sure he’d understood. He whimpered softly as I caressed him. Tears made my cheeks feel warm. For five years, Jake has been with me. I cherished all the moments we had. I had to be strong and let him go. It was for the best.
After a while, my family and the vet accompanied by a nurse came in the room. I stood up and walked toward my mom and embraced her as more tears escaped my eyes. Moments before Jake was injected, I went to him and gave him a farewell hug. He licked my hand reassuringly as he whimpered his last. The nurse held onto Jake as the vet injected him.
It was over. Jake was to be buried today. He may not have been human, but he was definitely like one. My eyes were red as I mourned over his death.
I wept for days after that. But slowly, I was able to recover. I never forgot him though. He would always be with me. A silent shadow walking by me like he always does. Whenever I think of the memories we shared, I look up and see the sky smiling back at me. Sometimes, I even think that he’s just there brushing past my legs or nuzzling my hand. I know we’ll see each other someday though. When that day comes, we would play together like we used to, or just sit together under the shade of a tree. But this time, he won’t be in any more pain. No one would be hurt this time. We’d be in a place without sadness and pain. He’s not a person, but he holds a special place in my heart not as a dog, but as a friend.
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