My friend Michael is sitting in a car somewhere with his dead dog in a box. He's sitting there, in his car somewhere, crying, inconsolable, next to a box containing the body of one of one of his best friends, a dog named Lucky.
Lucky came to my friend via an animal shelter, a place Lucky, a scraggly little long-haired freak, called home after a not-so-lucky life of severe physical abuse. The abuse left Lucky frazzled and suspicious, wary of strangers, terrified of loud noises and swift movements. Lucky took to my friend's wife right away. It took him years to take to Michael and one of their sons. He never took to the other son but loved being the leader of Michael's pack containing four other dogs, all of them much bigger in size than the tiny Lucky who was known to have a furious little bark used to keep the other dogs in line or protect them while they slept.
I am honored to say that Lucky took to me immediately and even once stayed the night at my house without much drama. The last time I saw Lucky was Saturday night at Michael's house. Everywhere I went, there was Lucky. When I sat on one of the barstools, Lucky would stand nearby and lick the bottoms of my feet. When I sat on the couch, he sat next to me. That night, Michael chose Lucky as the fortunate recipient of the leftover pesto, and only Lucky got to go for a walk with us around the big lake near his house. Lucky ran with me around the lake that night, and, for a few moments at least, Lucky knew no fear.
Tuesday night, Michael was at my house. Lucky was roaming country roads after having accidentally been left outside by his son. Lucky walked all night while Michael frantically searched for him. Lucky was hit by a car and was found the next morning in the gutter on the side of the road and taken to an animal hospital. His leg was mangled, but he was otherwise OK, said Michael when he called me Wednesday to let me know what happened. Lucky went into surgery and came out. Then, today, Lucky had a heart attack and died. Now he's in a box, and Michael's a wreck.
I am sad because's Lucky's life wasn't that great. But I am happy that he at least got to spend the last years of it in Michael's home as his wife's favorite friend and as a happy lead member of Michael's pack of lovable beasts.