I’ve had a pet dog or dogs for most of my life. I don’t remember my first dog, Arnold, but I do remember so many more from my childhood — Kelly, King, Benji, Pooh Bear, Buttons, and of course, my first adult dog, Raleigh. But Sirius is different.
When we got Sirius, I didn’t want another dog; dogs, I thought, were too much work. It was a Saturday in August and we were running errands. As we were riding past a shopping center with a dance store, I asked John to stop so we could buy an extra pair of tights for Claire. He thought it would be a good idea to go into the puppy store with Will. I told him not to. Twenty minutes later Claire and I went in the store to find Will in love with a cute, brown puppy. He was five months old and on sale. Will was pleading but we told him we needed to think about it. John inconspicuously asked them to hold the dog. In the car, he told Will that he would need to research the breed, Schipperke [skip-UR-key] and come up with a plan to take care of the dog, figure out the cost, etc. Within 30 minutes of getting home, Will had it all figured out. He and John returned to the store and Claire and I went to Petco for supplies.
Neither Claire nor I were too happy. I was worried about the responsibility of the dog and she was worried about our cats. When we got home, we had a puppy. John and Will named him Sirius after one of our favorite Harry Potter characters and that was that. We were all in love with him. The next morning, Sirius sealed the deal with me. John started running the vacuum and Sirius jumped between the vacuum and Will and began barking at the machine. I loved him for protecting my boy.
It wasn’t long before I loved him for being Sirius. He was such a sweet, loving dog. He was so good that he convinced me to give up my disco 40th birthday party and get another puppy instead. That was when Harry joined our family. A year later, we added Luna, making our puppy Hogwarts complete.
Sirius loved to be petted and would sit next to us, pawing our arms if we stopped petting him. Every feeding time, he danced in a circle in excitement. Sirius was too smart. When we first got him, he was constantly setting off our security alarm. He could open every door and cabinet in the house, not to mention jump on the counters. Every night when it was dark, he wanted to go “night night” and lay with me on the bed until I went to sleep, usually moving to his bed in his crate after that.
Dogs love us unconditionally. If I scolded him, Siri didn’t talk back. He gave me his paw and just wanted to be petted again. In the age of becoming a parent of teenagers and now adults, having dogs was such a blessing. As my kids grew and went to college I used to tell my dogs that they were my kids who wouldn’t leave me to go to college as a joke.
Hearing the news that my Sirius, the dog who started our pack, had a malignant, inoperable tumor in his brain, was crushing. Hearing that he was weeks if not days from suffering was unthinkable. Knowing that he would leave us was heartbreaking.
Will sent this to me. Sirius was Will’s pup and I know being away from him at this time is hard for Will. I think this is a nice way to close this post – a poem by Rudyard Kipling:
The Power of the Dog
There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie—
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.
When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find—it’s your own affair—
But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.
When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!).
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone—wherever it goes—for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.
We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long—
So why in—Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?
I’m sad and missing my Sirius, but I’m celebrating his memory and his impact on me and my family. His was a brief life, but it was a good one.