The old adage “dog is man’s best friend” is definitely an understatement. If you love and are loved by a dog, then you have known love and unselfish loyalty in its purest form. If you are inclined to think what I write is a bit “over the top” you may think again after reading “Bison.”
Bison is a large shaggy dog of advanced years, who is loved and owned by Amanda. I met Bison on a recent trip quick trip to Palm Springs. Amanda’s fiancé is the son of friends we stayed with during our week of sunshine. Amanda, Adam and Bison live in San Diego. The entire family frequents Disneyland, where Bison is almost a legend and wears honorary “mouse ears.”
In Adam’s car, Bison rides shotgun while Amanda sits happily in the back. When I first met Bison that week, he was pretty much always at Amanda’s side. Knowing I was a dog lover, Amanda began to share cute stories about him. Gradually, Bison began to stand close to me. The last evening, before Adam, Amanda, and Bison headed back to San Diego, we stopped by their Palm Springs house to see how Amanda redecorated. We sat by the pool, having a glass of wine and Amanda confided that she was fearful of losing Bison. She simply loves him so much that she can’t face ever losing him and hesitates to subject him to competing with a baby.
I understood. Right now, Bison is like a child to her. He is a big dog and he is not a puppy. Each year puts her closer to what she fears, which is life without him. I lost two of my dogs in October and it tore me to pieces. Poobah, only eight years old, died of kidney disease that she was born with; and Mouse, almost 14 years old, died a couple of weeks later of epilepsy. I didn’t think I would survive. These are the times when God gives us extra courage. I couldn’t share this with Amanda because it was still so fresh.
I went in to the kitchen to refill my wine glass, and Bison followed. I turned from the sink and he put his large head in my hands. He fixed his gaze on my face and began to transmit thoughts. I don’t know how to put this – so if you think I’m losing it, I don’t blame you. As clear as day, in my head I heard Bison say “you understand.” “Please tell my Amanda that I will stay as long as I can, I am well and happy sharing her life. She will never really lose me.”
Suddenly, I had this flashback to a scene from Dr. Doolittle, the first movie with Rex Harrison. In that scene, he held a female seal wrapped in a blanket that he was returning to the sea. He said, as he looked into the seals eyes: “in your eyes I see the sorrow of a thousand goodbyes.” I knelt down and put my arms around Bison. When I released him, Amanda was standing in the doorway. “We were just having a chat,” I said. “He knows how you feel.” She put her arms around me. “Thank you,” she said.