My puppy.  That\’s what I calle him, Puppy.  When my son brought him home more than twelve years ago he didn\’t yet have a name, so we just called him Puppy.  Now \”puppy\” is interchangeable with the name we eventually gave him, Calvin.  I was working evenings and typically came home after everyone else was in bed.  My ten year old son woke me up one morning before leaving for school and asked if he could have a puppy.

He spoke quickly with no pauses between thoughts.  He told me that \”the lady next door to the school has some puppies, and they\’re really cute, and my friends and I played with them and she told us that we could each have one if we wanted one, and . . .\”  I thought that was devious of her to bring a litter of pups to the school playground to get the kids to fall in love with them and take them home.

I told him that we didn\’t have room for a dog.  We didn\’t have a fenced in yard; I didn\’t want a dog indoors all the time, but I didn\’t like the idea of chaining a dog outside either.  \”But I really want one and I\’ll take care of it, can\’t I just have a little one?\”  Calvin was little, but he didn\’t stay that way.  he eventually became seventy pounds of four wheel drive straining at his leash.

My wife and I divorced several years ago, and my son recently graduated from college.  Now it\’s just Calvin and I.  He and I are great friends.  The only complaint I have about him is that he digs holes where I don\’t want them.  No amount of training seems to prevent this.  I asked the vet a couple of years ago if he could vaccinate Calvin to prevent his digging.  The vet told me that there isn\’t a vaccination for that, and if there was nobody could afford it.  One day my neighbor on the other side of the fence approached me; Calvin and I moved after the divorce, and now we have a fence.  She told me that Calvin had been digging under the fence to take a tomato off the vine in her yard.  I didnt\’ know he even likes tomatoes.  She loves Calvin as much as I do, and she thought it was cute.  Now cherry tomatoes and vanilla ice cream are his favored treats, but naturally eaten separately at different times.

In March of this year I noticed that Calvin had a growth among his bottom teeth, a broccoli shaped \”tumor\” I feared.  I took him to the vet to see what could be done about it.  The vet told me that because of his advanced age we ought to leave it alone unless it doubles in size in thirty days.  Older dogs don\’t tolerate general anesthesia well, she told me, and he\’d have to be put under to have the growth removed.  I watched it carefully.  Then a couple of weeks ago i noticed that Calvin was not eating as much as he usually did.  I scaled him and he was losing weight.  He was even having difficulty with soft food and tomatoes.

I took him to the vet Friday morning to have the growth removed from his mouth.  The vet called about an hour later to tell me that the surgery was complete and that I could pick him up in the afternoon.  She told that the tumor is malignant, and that the malignancy has spread to the bone of his jaw.  She was sympathetic, and told me that she can\’t predict how much time he has left.  I\’m hopeful that we can make it to his thirteenth birthday at the end of August, but she tells me that in cases like this one to three months is about as much time as can be anticipated.  Right now I\’m holding things togeter emotionally, but I don\’t know about later.  I read Recuing Sprite when it was first released with the knowledge that I have an elderly dog and the day is coming when I\’ll have to make a decision.

Meanwhile, I don\’t know how much time we have left together, but when he\’s able, he\’s going to get as many tomatoes, and as much ice cream as he can handle.

Douglas from IL