Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Ways I Learned Things...

I looked up at my dad, and I remember hating him during that moment. I wanted him to not be there, to not be making me do this. I paused, the glass almost to my lips.

"Travis, drink it or you're going to get a spanking."

I was a teenager, and newly so. 13 years old, and at that point I thought I could handle the spanking, thought I was big enough now to not feel the pain as much as I did when I was younger. Then I remembered how bad it hurt, and I put the glass to my lips and tipped it forward, lips sputtering, not actually ingesting any of the liquid inside of it.

"Set the glass down, son."

I did so quickly and happily.

"Now, do you think Lady likes to drink that water?"

Lady was our dog, a mutt, 13 years old like me, and falling fast to the pains of old age. She didn't walk that well anymore, and spent most of her time laying down in the shade of a big sycamore tree in our yard. My parents had gotten her for free soon after they had me, and she was as much a part of the family as any of us were. However, since becoming a teenager, I had become negligent in my duties of making sure she had fresh water. When my dad found the water, it had algae and Lord knows what else in it. He'd decided to make my punishment a lesson I wouldn't soon forget.

I made sure to keep the water dish filled with fresh water from there on out. Lady didn't live much longer after that, I can distinctly remember the day she died, she laid on the grass, twitching, my dad trying to get her heart beating again, tears flowing from every member of the family, none of us wanting to let her go. Then it was over, she was wrapped in a sheet, and my dad was digging a grave in the back of the yard.

Then, 4 years later, a grave was dug for my dad.

I'd drink a million glasses of that water if I could have both of them back.

Fast forward to present day and the inspiration for this story. The Missus and I have a dog. His name is Poo, and he is a Boston Terrier. You might have heard me mention him before. I don't like him much, and I don't think he likes me. Sometimes I tease him, sometimes I'm a little mean to him, and he encourages that by being a sad little emo dog.

Normally The Missus takes care of him. She feeds him, she waters him, and he's just HER dog. He won't come near me unless I have food, but if she so much as glances in his direction, he wants to jump in her lap and snuggle and never leave her side. I think that's another reason why I don't like him, his obvious disdain of me and my position in the house.

However, a couple of days ago I walked outside and saw a leaf in his water bowl. That's it, one leaf. Other than that, the water was drinkable by human standards. When I saw that leaf, I could smell that glass of water I stared at 15 years ago. I could see the little chunks of nastiness as they swirled in the glass, and it prompted me to act. I emptied out his dish, rinsed and rubbed it clean, and filled it with fresh water which I then offered him. He just stared at me, never coming within 10 foot of me, warily watching as I set the bowl down. He probably thought I was poisoning him.

It's funny how some lessons we learn stay with us through our lives. I may not have the warmest heart towards animals, but one thing is for certain, they'll always have fresh water at our house.