A Dog’s Life

“No one is as loyal as a dog.”

That’s what the old man down the street

told me, the last day I saw Buck.

When I asked him what he meant,

he sat me down, and Buck

limped over, laying his head in my lap.

I held back tears as I scratched his ear

and watched him perk up. The old man

smiled down at him. “See that?

The old boy will go through a world

of hurt just to see you smile.”

Water welled in his eyes.

“He may only be here

for part of your life, but

you’re all of his, understand?”

He laid his hand on the whitening fur

on Buck’s head, and he whined.

A tear dripped from his left eye

onto Buck’s head, but he couldn’t lift it

to comfort his owner. A few tears streamed

down my cheeks as I watched an old dog

on his last day, taking in the sight of his home

one last time. The old man between me

and Buck, and I understood without a word.

I helped the old boy into the rusted pickup, settling

him in my lap. His eyes lit up as we drove,

but he didn’t make a sound.

“He knows where he’s going, but

He knows it’s his time.”

I looked down at old Buck.

“How do you know that?”

The old man chuckled, staring out

at the road that’d have to end.

“He always used to make a big fuss.

Old Buck knows where’s he’s going,

And he’s being a good boy for me.”

The old man reached over, laying his hand

on Buck’s head. Still, he didn’t make a sound.

As we pulled up, Buck’s eyes closed.

I carried him inside, watched him as he went

Into that room, never to come out.

I swore I heard him howl one last time,

and the old man returned, giving

me his collar. “Remember

what I told you and give this

to your own when the time comes.”

On the ride home, I couldn’t

say a word, watching tears stream

down the old man’s face.

He dropped me off at home,

leaving me with Buck’s collar.

I didn’t dare ask why. Two weeks later

I saw his obituary, and the last part read.

“Gone home with his old boy. Buck

will be there waiting to spend another

life with his old man.”

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