Back when Mr. Rizzuto and I were first dating he got a pit bull puppy. She was the runt of the litter and had an extra toe because her father and brother were the same dog. I think she was even hit by a car at some point. Mr. Rizzuto rescued her from what was sure to be a life of crime. He wasn’t sure he would be able to keep her so he didn’t pick out a name for her, he just called her Puppy.
Puppy never really had all of her marbles. When I was pregnant with my oldest I was really afraid that we’d have to get rid of her. You know what they say about pit bulls, I thought maybe she’d try to eat him or something. I was pleasantly surprised when she accepted him as a member of the family.
Over the years Puppy has been through thick and thin with us. As far as I’m concerned she was my first baby. She even had puppies of her own. We kept one of them, his name is Noggin Rizzuto. But Puppy isn’t a puppy anymore. In fact, she’s pretty old. She doesn’t do much except sit at the top of the stairs and look worn out. I think she’s going deaf too; either that or she’d just so old she doesn’t give a shit what anyone is saying anymore. I’m scared to death that one day I’m going to wake up and step on a corpse.
The other day I found her sitting in her usual spot and decided to have a talk with the kids. Dante anyway, Janey’s too young to understand anything.
“You know,” I told him, “Puppy is really old. She might not last very much longer. I just want to prepare you for that.” “Oh no!” Dante said. “What if she dies?”
“Well…that’s pretty much what I’m trying to tell you honey. She might die soon. We have to make sure to be really nice to her now. Be sure you pet her or give her a hug every time you see her, OK?”
The three of us sat there for a few minutes petting her. Dante looked pretty sad, so I put my arms around him.
“Puppy’s had a good life honey, we just have to remember that. You’re very lucky to have had such a great pet your whole life.”
“If Puppy dies we’ll only have one dog left!” he said.
“I know honey.”
“Maybe we can get another pet.”
“Can we get another pet?”
“Dante,” I said, “she isn’t dead yet.”
“I know. But I’m just saying, if she dies.”
“Dude, she’s sitting right here! Be cool, OK?”
I went about my business after that, but I heard him saying something to Puppy. The next day I asked him what he told her.
“I told her not to worry, because in dog heaven there are trees that grow bones, dog biscuits and chew toys.”
“Oh,” I said. “Where did you hear that?”
“I just made it up,” he said. “But I think it’s true.”
Maybe I’m selfish, but dog heaven sounds like a pretty lonely place to me. I’d rather she just stayed here with us.