Cousin It

Briefly, I am a recovering alcoholic and about 6 months before I began my journey down that road, I began my association with Teddy, a blond cocker spaniel whom my next-door neighbor had basically taken from their pastor(!?) who had him living in a cage. He looked like Cousin It, he had so much hair on him and he stunk to high heck. We cut a shopping bag full of hair from him and washed his filthy body. They had nowhere to go with him, but I am a sucker for homeless pets so I said I’d take him. It became immediately apparent that he had a serious seizure condition, which required him to take phenol-barbitol every day. (He was, until then, un-medicated) He was however, possessed of an ability that I’ve only recently acquired, that of being in the moment and happy as heck just to have what he had, whatever it was. He had the ability to be completely self-less and to know intuitively, who was hurting and what to do about it. Something it took me a very long time to learn, caught up as I am in my own importance. He was just a joy to have around. When I could conjure up no optimism or gratitude in my own life, I would only have to reflect on him and his real problems to come back to some kind of center, such as it was.

I have had many dogs and cats in my life and perhaps this is more about me than Teddy, but because of where I was in my life, I am convinced in hindsight that Teddy was an angel sent to me by God to help me make the transition to sobriety and to a new life. I am grateful beyond my ability to express in words. It brings tears to my eyes, now, ten years later to relate this story to you.

Anyway, about a year and a half after my moment of clarity, he died a painful death from liver cancer. I was told it was brought on by his anti-seizure medication. I was devastated by his loss and was inconsolable for months afterward. I was also struggling with the feeling I had that I was basically a s%#t because I missed my dog more than I can recall ever having missed another human being. I told this story one time in a meeting and I was astounded by the outpouring of similar stories from my peers. Life is strange sometimes. Anyway, after I was done grieving, the only thing to do was go to the Animal Shelter to spring someone else. Spike and Sebastian, as it turns out. But that’s another story.
I also had to put a cat down once, long ago, and I was asked by the vet if I wanted to hold him as he was ushered into the afterlife, and I was too big a coward to do it. To my shame. Since then I have been called upon to be there in that capacity on a few occasions. I have stepped up to the plate each time. It is always a painful, emotionally wrenching experience. But I am grateful today that my heart and soul works and I am made of sterner stuff. I am able to see things through to their conclusion. Even the lives of my friends. I hurt sometimes, therefore I am.

Alan from CA