For two years after my father’s death, I had a dog. He was a French bulldog and I called him Porky the Pork Dog for reasons that are readily apparent.
I called him my son, when he let me carry him in my arms, and my faithful friend because he stayed by my side when very few did. In many ways, Porky was a lot like me: awkward looking and a little stupid, faithful to a fault and always trying to hump things.
I loved that little guy. When he was down with parvo, I spoon-fed him Gerber baby food , hoping he would be able to keep it down. He did not. He survived the parvo, though, and we had a few adventures together. We went to the beach, where he showed me he could swim (after a fashion) and I once had to drag him away from a fighting cock that he stupidly, and unsuccessfully, tried to hump.
What killed him, in the end, was not the parvovirus that odds said should have, but neglect. At one of those points that have become standard for people who work in news, I was too busy with work for us to go on our walks around the subdivision, too busy getting drunk to play with him, too busy looking for love to value the love in his little doggie heart. He still had food and water, but that was not enough, apparently, because he stopped eating.
One night, after I cancelled all plans so I could spend time with him, I came home to find him dead. Loyal to the last, he died facing the gate, waiting for me to come home. I buried him myself. It was the least, and the most, that I could do at that point.
And that’s the thing with commitments, I guess, whether to people or to French bulldogs who are about as dumb as they look: Forget you have them, and things will start to die.