Man’s best friend

by on March 19th, 2004

My dog loved me.

No, I mean the dog really loved me.

Not in the “I’m humping your leg” manner (after all, we weren’t married and I’m quite chaste), but in the “I enjoy your company and want to be around you” sense of the word. Snickers (my sister named her for the candy bar box she slept in as a pup) was an excellent dog.

She was a Chinese pug with all the puggishness one would expect and not much of the pugnacity. She was content to lie with her head resting on you and occasionally would let me lie with my head on her as she lay on the floor. Comfortable TV watching that way, although I was worried my huge noggin was too much for her. She was small, even for a pug.

I went off to college and returned to find Snickers much the worse for wear. One eye had started to go after an encounter with Sister #2’s cat, but when I returned Snickers was almost completely blind in both eyes. Her hearing was going too. I remember sitting in the same room and calling her and she would get up and run into the kitchen, thinking someone there was summoning her for a treat.

But no matter how long I stayed away, Snickers always recognized me. I don’t know whether it was her sense of smell, the way I scratched her ears, or what, but she — unlike small human relatives — never needed a warming up, get-reacquainted period. Like I said, she loved me.

I think that Snickers had cancer at the end. She would just sit and yelp in pain. She could hardly see, and it hurt her just to walk. My brother-in-law finally put her out of her misery about three years ago.

But, you see, the point is that my dog loved me. And I loved her.

So why is it fair that we were never allowed to marry? We had love. We could have had commitment if it wasn’t for the state. True, we wouldn’t have been able to have children puppies offspring, but that is true of all sorts of couples. Even some same-species, different-gender couples are unable to have kids.

I think Snickers would have agreed to adopt, anyway. After all, she brought up litters of puppies at a time.

And with my prehensile hands and her wide, puggish mouth, I’m sure we could express our love physically too. Just like human homosexual couples.

So why can’t we be allowed to marry? We were young, we loved each other, and yet we couldn’t marry. Oh, sure. I could have signed papers giving her power of attorney. I could’ve designated her as beneficiary on my life insurance. I could legally give her all the rights the woman I married now receives. But even then we couldn’t legally call it a marriage.

Why were my rights so cruelly trampled upon?

I.J. Reilly