Let me tell you about how this thing went for me one time.

When I was in third grade, my childhood German Shepherd died while I was at school.

My parents got Max when my older sister was a toddler, and by the time I was born, he was about 2 or 3 years old. While German Shepherd puppies can be outta control and energetic and hilarious, Max was a very mellow puppy and dog. He was the runt of the litter, and my dad actually picked him up out of a pile of puppy poop because all of the other puppies were stepping on him and getting doo doo in his face. "This is the one," my dad said to my mom, horrified at the amount of shit he had gotten on his clothes.

Anyway, like I said, Max was the boss. He was gentle, sweet, but would totally kill anybody who rang the doorbell. He would never play tug-o-war with me, though, because I was too little and he didn't want to hurt me. He would let me ride on his back. He would lay down next to me while I was having tea parties. He would let me put tutus on him. He would let me poke him in the ears while he was sleeping. He came into my bedroom after the '94 earthquake and took my hand to lead me out of the house. And best of all? He'd put his huge, furry head on my lap while I watched Full House every night at 6:00.

I noticed he had gotten tired more frequently, and one morning I gave him a big hug and told him that I'd give him the doggie bacon when I got home from school.

During the day, my dad took Max to the vet, because sure enough, Max was about 10 years old and had been acting sluggish and wasn't eating enough. He'd also developed hip displasia, so anytime he'd get up or lie down, he'd yelp a little bit. The vet informed my dad that he was surprised Max hadn't died yet. His exact words were, "he has death in his eyes." My dad made the heartbreaking decision to put Max down that day, for fear of my sister or me finding Max dead around the house in the coming days. Our vet assured my dad that he truly had only days left, if he'd even make it a few more hours. And I trust that the decision was best all-around.

Of course, after school was full of tears and sadness. This was the first time I'd ever seen my dad cry (and, to this day, the only other times I've seen him cry were at his mother's funeral and when Mickey, another one of our dogs, had to be put down prematurely). I had never experienced death like this before, and actually felt like there was a huge hole in my heart. I cried for days about Max. I still cry if I think about him hard enough. He was a really good dog.

So when you're the dad to two young girls, what do you do to get the crying to stop?

You buy them a puppy.

We adopted Duke, an 8-week-old German Shepherd from a breeder in Agua Dulce, a rural town about 15 minutes away. He was... SO CUTE. And energetic. And sometimes psychotic. And adorable. And tiny. AND HUGE, all at once.

Duke slowly filled that empty hole in my heart. My core group of friends was comprised of the kids in my neighborhood -- and they were all as devastated about Max dying as my family was. And, similarly, were all as excited about a new puppy as we were. We all played with Duke everyday after school. He'd chase us around the side of my parents' house where the peach tree was. Ugh, I hate peaches. They would always get smushed up in between my toes and have bugs all over them. And then I'd cry because Duke made me get bugged up peach goo in my toes and then he'd knock me over or something. It was fun.

We noticed that Duke didn't take to potty training very well. He knew to pee outside on the grass, but he kept peeing inside, too. Gradually, we realized it wasn't that he didn't know where to pee -- it was that he couldn't physically stop himself from peeing. He had a slow, continuous urinary leak.

I'm not totally sure of the details, but one day I caught wind of my parents' decision to possibly give Duke away for his peeing issue. To distract us, my mom took my sister and me out shopping while my dad made a few calls to people about it. By the time we got home, we were told that we couldn't have a dog peeing on all of our things, and it would be inhumane to keep him outside all of the time (my dad has this theory that guard dogs are useless if left outside -- because if an intruder makes his/her way inside, the dog is outside, and we all end up raped and dead).

While I was completely devastated, I was assured that Duke was being placed at a home in Acton where an elderly blind lady lived. She needed an outside dog to feel safe, and this way Duke could have his constant pee leak and nobody would care! It was the desert! Pee away, Duke! Help the blind ladies!

So my dad took Duke away, but brought home another puppy we named Lady. (Lady ended up being put down at age 4 because she had some paralyzing stroke one day. We also adopted another dog, Hans, to be her buddy about six months before her stroke. Long story long, Lady died, and then a year or two later Hans died from old age. Then we got Mickey as a puppy, who had to be put down at age 5, on father's day, from a rare disease that basically made him bleed out of his ass. Great.)

Point of this story is, my dad was the hero for donating our beautiful family dog to this helpless old lady in the country.

Except for the part where that didn't even happen.

My dad lied to everybody in our family. And all of the neighbor kids. And even my mother.

Duke had to be put down because the condition had gotten much worse, to the point where he was experiencing constant pain.

Three Christmases ago, I mentioned, "wow, you know what's weird? Our puppy Duke is probably dead by now. It's been that long." My dad chuckled and said, "Well, yeah, I can pretty much guarantee that dog is dead." Because of the fact that there was no old lady who needed a field dog, and that he only told us that so his daughters wouldn't be downtrodden and depressed about dogs for the rest of their lives.



So, anyway, as you can see in that text message... my sister was hanging out with our childhood next door neighbor last night. LOL.


My dad is too good for this Earth.