Ten years ago, I became friends with a dog on Facebook. I wouldn’t have thought about this again, except that a few days ago, a different dog friendship got the better of me.
And that got me to thinking.
Dogs are owned by no one.
They are the true masters.
But back to my Facebook Friend Dog. Late one night in 2011, I noticed a red notification. It was a friend request. From a dog. Lucy Pug, the dog of my best friend in my childhood neighborhood, was there in my box requesting me as a friend on Facebook. I stared at that request for a couple of minutes while my finger wavered on the mouse button. Finally, I selected Confirm. Sure, Lucy Pug. I’ll be your friend. Far be it from me to be the lady who won’t be her friend’s dog’s friend on Facebook. It’s a mouthful, I know. Two minutes later, a message came up. It said simply: Lucy Pug has accepted your friend request.
Wait a second. What?
She accepted MY friend request?
Apparently I hadn’t been asked to be her friend. Facebook had suggested that I ask her. And I never saw it coming. I requested that a dog become my friend.
I was a sucker that day for all the right reasons.
Last Tuesday, it happened again.
My friend, Erin, has had a dog for 13 years. His name is Cobi and he’s the sweetest, easiest dog most of us have ever known. He was the group mascot. Cobi came to the park when our children were little and we had Tuesday morning play group. Cobi went camping. Cobi caught sticks and frisbees in his mouth like he was training for Cirque du Soleil. Cobi is the dog that helped my frightened, allergic children adjust to dogs. Cobi is a very good boy.
Last weekend, Cobi got sick.
He’s been getting older and slower for awhile now. We all knew he was nearing the outer fringe of his life expectancy rope. But none of us thought this would be the end. After all, it was Cobi. He just had to get better.
All weekend, leading up to the Super Bowl, Cobi dragged himself around refusing to eat and struggling to contain the food that was already in him. After watching him suffer, Erin took him to the vet on Monday morning. He was running a fever and it seemed like his kidneys were failing. Instead of running more expensive tests and prolonging his suffering, Erin and the vet set an appointment for Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. for Cobi to go the way of all the earth.
Cobi was being put down.
Erin was heartbroken.
We all were.
Because there were a few days to work with, Erin set a window of Tuesday afternoon, from 4 p.m. to 8, for anyone to come by that wanted to say goodbye to her sweet dog. She told us she’d be sitting in the yard with him that entire time.
I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to say goodbye to that dog or watch other people say goodbye to him. I didn’t want to face the future of someday saying goodbye to my own dog. I couldn’t even tell my daughters about the appointment without choking up a little.
But Tuesday afternoon at 5 p.m., we climbed on the golf cart and drove a short half mile to say our goodbyes. Erin was sitting in the yard. Cobi was lying beside her in the grass. The late afternoon sun was filtering through the oak trees and laying in patchwork swatches on the grass. Cobi raised his head when we walked up and then forced himself up to greet us. Before it was over, he was smiling in pictures with my girls and catching easy stick throws in his mouth.
He gave us a tiny glimpse into the good old days.
When Erin’s parents showed up with their dog, Cooper, I knew it was time to go. I couldn’t watch that one.
I didn’t actually say goodbye to Cobi or say anything profound to Erin. I just couldn’t do it. He seemed too much like the dog I remembered. I refused to think about Thursday morning.
For the rest of the night, visitors streamed into Cobi’s yard. Cobi’s actual brother came by. All of our local friend group was there at some point during the night.
That was the last time any of the rest of us would see Cobi alive.
The next morning—on Wednesday—we all received a text in the group chat from Erin.
“Yall are gonna think I’m insane, but Cobi had a great night and then woke up this morning and ate his entire bowl of food like he was perfectly normal. I’m going to cancel the appt for tomorrow.. I just can’t go through with it if he’s happy and eating. Which he is.”
Within moments, the celebration texts chimed in. And it was determined that maybe all Cobi needed were more parties where he is the star of the show.
Maybe this was even premeditated. He knew exactly what he was doing.
I’m so grateful to be typing a positive ending to this story. But I gotta be honest. I feel a little played. By a dog. And I’m not falling for that friend request thing again. If Cobi wants to be friends on Facebook, he’s going to have to come to me first.