The Great Plotnik

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Squirrel Nation Rests Easy

The Great Plotnik is not going to be sad, even though he knows the drill. If you don't feel sad when a creature you love dies then you didn't really love them enough. And since Mischief was a dog, not a person, and since everyone has known this was coming, and since Plotnik kind of said his teary good-byes in the elevator in Clinton Hill the last time he brought the old pooch in from his walk, there is no reason for sorrow.

So why is Plotnik having so much trouble writing 'was' instead of 'is?' Oh, forget Plotnik for the time being, no hiding behind third-personage this morning. This is Doug. It's warm outside but raw in here. I really did love that dog. That's why it hurts.

But damn! The squirrel nation rests easier this morning!

My grand-dog was only my second dog ever, and Stormy ran away in 1962. I don't know if Mischief was Staci's first, but I know he was Dan's. We always had cats. I love cats. It hurt when Fluffy and R.L. and Crystal died -- yes it did. But they weren't dogs. It's not the same. Cats love you as much as they can -- and they have plenty of love to give. They're just not built to enthuse about it. They'd rather carry your picture around in a locket under their flea collar than hang it up on the refrigerator.

Cats are patient -- they can't wait for you to get home to throw up on your shoes so you won't ever go away again. Dogs can't wait for you to get home because every time you walk in that door, every night, it's love at first sight.

Mischief's tail wagged, even when he felt rotten. Dan says it was still wagging happily a few days ago. I am happy to hear that.

I remember how terrible it sounded to have to get a packing crate for him so he could fly on the plane with them when they moved East. I felt bad enough about them moving and the packing crate seemed excessively cruel to me. But Mischief just climbed on into it, fell asleep and woke up in Brooklyn.

Kind of like now, except he's back in New Orleans, I think, in my head anyway, running with Danny down below Bayou St. John. When Mischief got finished running he jumped right into the bayou and Dan followed him in. That memory is as sweet to me as red velvet cake.

Yesterday, Dan bought Isabella some candy and gave her the news. I think it doesn't really register when you're four.

Poor Staci. She found him as a puppy with a "Lost Dog" sign around his neck, one ear up, one ear down, tail wagging happily. Like Dan, Chief was one lucky guy -- he found Staci. And then she found the rest of us, and Mischief has always been along for the ride.

So when Staci took him to the vet and the vet told her how sick Mischief was and said "You can keep him around if you want, but realize it's for you, not him" -- they all knew it was time.

Lots of stories, but I'm laughing thinking about when Barb and I drove him down to L.A. after he'd spent quite a few weeks at Camp Grandpa while Dan and Staci were traveling in Vietnam. I stopped at a Burger King near the grapevine and asked Mischief what he wanted. He said a Kids' Meal. So I got him a Kids' Meal.

Barb and he and I sat outside on the grass and he couldn't believe it when I actually unwrapped the burger and gave it to him. He was so Northern California by then. He swallowed the hamburger whole, one bite, gone, and he didn't care at all about the toy.

This is better. I'm feeling better. We''ll all be fine.

But yesterday I found himself thinking about Grandpa Ben, and how as a young man I would drive over to his apartment, after Gram died, and walk with him around his neighborhood. Of course it wasn't the same, because old ladies wouldn't come up to Mischief and offer him cookies like they did to Grampa Ben, but the thing that was and is the same, is that taking time out of your day to walk with someone is a really beautiful thing for both of you to do, especially if every time you do it you are both so happy to get outside and smell the grass and the sky.


At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Cousin Seattle said...

Uncle D-My thoughts are with you all this morning. Mischief was such a great pal, and we'll never forget him :)

It's been over 10 years since Iggy has been gone, and I still smile when I see a black lab that looks like him. It feels like he says 'hi' every once in a while. That, and smelling a really bad dog-fart always reminds me of how great of a dog we had!

Lots of love!

At 11:20 AM, Blogger J and J said...

Doug-It was good to hear your voice last night, sad as the news was. I love you and though I did not know Mischief well, I too am sad. Too much loss, and now a chance to cry out tears for all of it. Thanks.

At 1:10 PM, Blogger notthatlucas said...

Mischief was a great dog (as most dogs are), and I always loved that kid's meal story. Our own big old dog is nearing his end, and it's going to be really rough to deal with - much more so than any other pet I've been involved with.

Thanks for sharing this.


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