We Like To Skateboard, And Start Trouble

Requiem For A Shadow by Juan Arreola

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12 years ago, I got a phone call from a friend with a tip about an abandoned little puppy that needed a home. My initial excitement was quickly nullified when he told me the dog was a Pit Bull. I had heard all of the anecdotes and horror stories that made the breed out to be bloodthirsty, deranged killers that instinctually needed to feed on fresh chunks of human ass and ballsack to satisfy their lust for gore. It's not that I believed any of that bullshit or felt that the breed was inherently bad, I was just uneducated and personally unfamiliar with them. I hesitated, but agreed to have a look anyway.


When I arrived a short while later, we were immediately introduced. Around the corner, she slowly wriggled and then stopped when she saw me. We sized each other up for a moment. A tiny little mess looking at a great big one. She had a distinctive gait caused by what the vet would later tell me was most certainly from the kick of an abusive piece of shit taking whatever riled him up that day out on her. Across her chubby and smooth puppy pot belly were what appeared to be cigarette burns. Mange had set in and ravaged her sensitive skin, and she was malnourished and dehydrated. Still, there was something quite striking in those hazel eyes of hers, even as a baby. She had a regal composure despite the poor condition she was in that made her seem almost wise beyond her few months of age. "You're a little lady", I thought. "Tiny as a peanut, but you're still a lady." I scooped her up, gave her a long stare in the face, and told my friend I was taking her home. She was Lady Peanut from that day forward.


Her house training was the easiest few days I had ever for seen for a dog in my entire life. About half a dozen squats on the grass with loads of exaggerated praise and a treat here and there was all it took. She had an occasional accident throughout the process, but it was almost uncanny how intelligent and obedient she was. She heeded my every command and seemed to understand every word and vocal inflection. She was a fucking MIT professor compared to other dogs. She was affectionate in a way that I hadn't seen in any animal before and she craved mine in return. There were moments when I'd be layed out on the couch watching a ballgame and I would F E E L her staring longingly at me. My favorite game was pretending not to notice this until she started whimpering and begged for my attention. I would finally relent loudly, crawl over to her, and laugh hysterically as she gushed and melted at my teasing and rough housing. She was a goofball and a softie. This dog was the terror of low-flying birds and unaware squirrels on my property for over a decade. Athletic and at the same time, clumsy. She would bound towards my bed and majestically leap several feet in the air when I called, and then turn and run straight into a wall when I chased her because her eyes would be so fixed to where I was and how much fun she was having. People would marvel at what an incredibly loving and happy creature she was when I'd bring her out. All of you reading this that knew her can attest to that. Simply put, Lady was one of a kind. Her personality was singular and unparalleled. There will NEVER be anything or anyone quite like her in my life again.


Lady Peanut's final few months were in stark contrast to the years before. It was startling how much she slowed down almost overnight. Rheumatoid arthritis and hip dysplasia had begun to severely affect her and limited her mobility. It didn't seem fair. She was a bundle of energetic life and now, all she could do was sleep. Even that was painful for her as she neared the end. It was difficult for her to find a comfortable position to fall asleep in and she would sometimes whimper. I felt so sorry for her, but told myself that as long as she continued to eat and drink water, I would carry her around if I needed to. And that I did a few times. A feeling slowly grew in my gut that it was almost time.


My dogs last few hours were horrible and I will spare you the gruesome details of how it happened. Let's just say that I was relieved when she experienced the wash of the sedative she was injected with that visibly eased her pain. Instead, I will tell you of the incredibly powerful moment I had with her in the remaining seconds we had together. As her vibrant fire slowly left her eyes, she layed her head down on my outstretched arm. I told her I loved her and said goodbye. With one final struggle against the sleep, she raised her head back up and stared at me. It was the same stare she gave me when we first met. That regal stare of composure and intelligence. She gazed at me like that for a few more seconds and then slowly lowered her head back down and gave in to the sedation. As the veterinarian gave her the second injection that would stop her heart and breathing, I gave her one last kiss on her white-striped face. She took one more breath and was gone. I can tell you that I sobbed from my soul and I've never wept like that in my life. My best friend would never greet me again.


  Any of you that have ever lost a best friend know how painful this is. That first evening at my place when I came home from work the day after was an agonizing one. For the first time in 12 years, there was no one there to greet me and the stillness was heavier than lead. I couldn't even stand to be in the house and it was a struggle to sleep.


My family was a dog family, so I grew up with them and I've been through this process before. This, however, is unlike any of them. Lady was mine and I was hers. I raised her. I fed her. I took care of her. She took care of me. When we met, I was an angry human being. I was in a race against myself to get to self-destruction and I hated being alive. Lady Peanut taught me how to love again. I grew as she grew and I saw some perspective and clarity. I learned how fragile life is and how time shouldn't be wasted on self-loathing and misery. Lady Peanut saved my life and I am forever grateful.


So, here is to life and joy. Happiness and smiles. Tails wagging and piss on the rug. To barking at the thunder and chasing your tail. Thank you, Lady Peanut. Farewell to my shadow.