Being an animal lover and all, translated…
Give Us a Brand New Chance at Life
I’d been writing in the column, “Love the Pets with Us” for a year now. The very first article was “Loving a Dog Who Never Comes Home”, the main character was a stray, Dan, I’d picked up from over a decade ago. At the very end, I’d written:
On Dan’s collar, there was a small prayer satchel I brought back from Japan, it’s a two-piece set, one for the pet, one for the owner. I’d hung mine on my backpack, and, when we are out on walks, Dan who has on his collar, and me, with my backpack, we’d made the same jingling noise with the bell from the things, and, with our hurried steps, the jingles would come faster. For me, that, was how in-synch we were in love, how our hearts shared the same beats, and it also symbolized the best time we’d shared, Dan and I.
A few days ago, I’d walked by the back patch of the NTU libraries, the place Dan and I had once trotted on, it was, quiet back then, the sound of the bell on my backpack became so clear and crisp, but that was, the sound of the loneliness, when I’d gone out on my own, because Dan had left me, on September 30th of this year. Even so, the amazing, happy, wonderful memories that Dan and I shared will never be far away, a smile snuck up onto the corners of my lips, as I recalled once more, the wonderful time we’d shared on our strolls together, Dan and I.
As I was writing the first article for the column, Dan had just had surgery to remove his spleen, and after the biopsy, it was, lymphoma. In a sense, this, was a sort of a blessing—Dan was originally placed in the backyard of the veterinary hospital, and, in order to make his last days better, my older sister, who was about to head over to Hong Kong to take up a teaching post couldn’t adopt him for long-term decided to take him home with her to stay whenever she could, and, Dan finally had the life of a beloved household pet, and, the path we took to walk changed from the back of the veterinary hospital, to the park close to my sister’s house.
After Dan got sick, I’d often gotten reminded of the book, “Maya’s First Rose”, an book that honestly told of how a pet fell ill to death, how the owners were overcome with sorrow and sadness of the loss of a beloved pet, “I kept praying nonstop, and my prayers consisted of just two lines: God, please give us one more spring, one more autumn.” Even though I knew, no matter how many spring or winters I’d been given, it would never be quite enough, but my rational side told me, that every day is a gift, and I’d taken this unsettled heart, mixed in with a moment of cherish, walked with Dan, through the spring, and into the autumn.
Actually, Dan had just showed signs of loss of appetite two weeks before his passing, for animals with malignant tumors, he’d been blessed by Lady Luck, and so, I was granted more time, to go on strolls with him. Later I’d found out, that Dan who’d stayed at my older sisters and the veterinary hospital interchangeably, he’d much more preferred the veterinary hospital as a place for walk, after all, it’s a well-known territory for him. As he’d dragged me across the halls of the veterinary hospital, the assistants in the vet’s office would always inquire, “Taking Dan for a walk again?”, and not long afterwards when we’d come back, she’d also said, “Back so soon?”, that, was naturally NOT caused by my not taking him all the way around the neighborhood, but because of Dan’s marching manners.
The Chicken Meal that Came After Walk Became His Primary Motivation
Actually, on this road he’d grown familiar with, every day, for three whole years, there would be his admirers of the same species, or countless strangers who’d smiled at him, but, he, being very solitary, would not give them a moment of his time, kept urging onward; and, I would feel this gloat because he was mine—because being just like him, kept to myself a lot, on our walks, there would be a lot of people who’d smiled and commended, “What a cute dog!”……and there was also an older boy who sold dish rags, he’d always wanted to pet Dan as a show of friendship, and it’d made me, who was not at all into cleaning, buy a TON of dishrags from him, just because he liked Dan so.
Dan’s fast pace was not only caused by his temperament, but also he’d learned, that after we got home, he would get his full-course meal of chicken, cooked by me, so that, was why he wasn’t drawn to the world. Once, I’d wanted to change things up a bit for him, my husband and I took him around the back of Politics University, he’d walked with this uneasiness, this hesitation about him all the way, didn’t seem to enjoy that walk at all, until we stopped to rest and I took out the chicken to feed him, that, was when he’d looked like “you should’ve given this to me earlier”, it’d made us laugh very hard.
As Dan checked into my sister’s home for his vacation, maybe he wasn’t at all, familiar with the paths, he’d become more of a stay-at-home geek. On the one hand, he’d cherished the time on the couch, watching television with his family, and she could also keep an eye out for if someone’s gone into the kitchen, to bring her some food, and so, Dan was nicknamed the “Controller of the Kitchen” by my sister; but, after he’d gotten acquainted to the passages to the parks, Dan could enjoy the routines of sniffing around the park with my sister’s other dog, Dodo, and start “discovering the new world”; and, even though, most of the times, the older and shorter-legged Dan would get left behind by Dodo.
The very last time I’d taken Dan out alone, it was one night after the Mid-Autumn Festivals. I would be so accustomed to talking to him constantly, and, theses are usually all praises I had for him, “Such a handsome boy you are”, “How could you be so cute?”, and “I love you so very much”, and the like. On that day, I’d added, “Dan, there’s no one but us here, the entire park belonged to just the two of us, you are, the best leading man, don’t you know!”, then, I’d caught a glimpse of an elderly gentleman who was exercising using the park equipments, he must have been there for a long time? And, I’d had to pretend that I didn’t see him, and just walk quickly by.
After Dan died, I not only cried once, for that smiling face I will never see again, but I know, that no matter how sad I’d gotten, it’s still NO excuse for the other animals we took care of. The best leading man, Dan, had already lived his entire life, and now, he’d been written out of the scripts, but, I still must keep moving on. Sometimes, I’d imagined, that if Dan could talk, after he’d looked back through his life, would he wanted to say to me, “Do prepare more chicken”, or, “I know you loved me the most in the world”? Whatever his answers may be, I still wanted to tell him thanks, because with him, accompanying me for this time period, every step I’d taken, was shined upon by his bright smiles.
And so, this, is a woman’s way of saying goodbye to her beloved pet, and, it surely is hard, loving a pet so very much, and then, getting overwhelmed by the loss of the pet’s death, but, we will move on, step-by-step…