The Last Lewis Letter

[Editor’s Note: Actually, the last “true” Lewis Letter—the January 13 missive—has already been posted. After that no more Lewis Letters were composed or sent. The primary reason is that shortly thereafter my work schedule changed dramatically providing fewer early morning opportunities for e-mail. Besides, as had been noted months earlier, the possibilities of the Lewis Letter genre had pretty much already been exhausted, there being only so many times one can return to the “I’d like a biscuit” fount (or is that font?) before the repetition becomes uninteresting. In the months following, the concerns over Lewis’s health did not abate, because his condition continued to deteriorate. Then, in May 2010, I composed this e-mail to a friend of mine, which became, in effect, the Last Lewis Letter.]

May 17, 2010

“It has been a sad weekend. Yesterday, Andrea decided it was finally time to send Lewis, her 12-year-old black Lab, to his eternal reward. We knew it was coming some time this summer, but not this soon. Lewis has had this benign growth for the past three or four years, and the growth just kept growing and growing and growing until it became like a small satellite attached to his side. It probably accounted for nearly 40% of his weight in the end. So, it was hard on his legs, and he occasionally would slip on the linoleum and couldn’t get up. But as large as the growth got, he still seemed very cheerful, considering. And four days ago he took off at full speed after a squirrel. But yesterday, he just looked sad and he lay down on his garage pillow and didn’t want to move. Usually, he had to follow us around to see what we were up to and to beg for ear scratches. But not yesterday. So, Andrea called a vet who was open on Sunday and we took Lewis in to get the needle. Normally, a trip to the vet would make Lewis panic: he’d pee uncontrollably and frantically try to escape. But not yesterday. We picked him up using his garage pillow and put him in the car: he didn’t move. We drove him to the vet: he seemed unconcerned. The vet nurses helped us carry him into the vet hospital: no peeing, no whining, nothing. He lay on the floor of the examination room as people came and went, remaining peaceful and serene. Only when the nurse took his temperature rectally did Lewis turn his head to inquire: —What the fuck? The vet finally came in and injected the Euthanol, as they call the terminal drug, and within a couple of minutes Lewis was gone. It was very sad (the nurse even started crying) but it was definitely for the best. Anyway, we’re in mourning here in Spokane: our good buddy no longer is begging for a biscuit.”

[Editor’s Final Note: I’ve gotten a little misty while typing this, remembering Lewis’s last hours. And I feel a little ashamed about how much I teased him in these letters, because he was, bottom-line, a very good dog. Make that a great dog. And he is still missed. Goodbye Lewis. I’m sorry it took me so long to release your bark to the world . . . I can almost hear his response . . .

—It’s about time. Took you long enough.

“Sorry about that.”

—You should also be sorry about the low readership. A bark delivered the traditional way would have an immensely larger audience.

“How do you figure?”

—Well, the original transmission would be heard by every dog within ear-shot, and you know how keen canine ears are, so that’s a large area filled with lots and lots of dogs.

“Okay . . .”

—And then the innumerable re-barks would multiply, exponentially, the number of dogs hearing my premium bark.

“Wait a minute. Just how much re-barking goes on, really? I mean, don’t other dogs want to bark their own original material?”

—Re-barks depend on the quality of the bark. A prime bark like mine would shoot up the re-barking lists and make it around the globe in just days.

“You keep lists? Like best seller lists?”

—Not officially, but you occasionally hear someone barking about their favorite barks . . .

“And you’re convinced your bark would make the cut?”

—Without a doubt.

“Well, I’m sorry the blog of your bark didn’t meet your expectations.”

—The word you’re searching for is ‘blark’ . . . ‘blog of your bark’ is so clumsy.

“Okay. I’m sorry the blark didn’t meet your expectations.

—How could they meet? They haven’t even been introduced!

“ . . .”

—Get it? I really crack myself up sometimes.

“I’ve noticed.”

—Anyway, though it’s definitely not perfect, it’s better than nothing. So, thanks for that. You tried. You did your best, I suppose.

“You’re welcome.”

—Say, to mark this happy occasion, don’t you think it would appropriate to have a celebratory biscuit?

Farewell, old buddy. RIP.]

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January 13, 2010

—What was that?

“A phone call from She With Whom You Abide.”

—A little early for such things, isn’t it?

“She wanted me to know that there’s ice all over the roads and that I should drive carefully.”

—Did she further mention that such icy conditions mean that dogs shouldn’t be outside risking life and limb?

“No, she didn’t.”

—Are you sure?

“Yes, and in a few minutes you will be sent forth to protect the home by patrolling the frosty landscape.”

—Surely you’re joking.

“Nope. Enjoy the heat while you got it. When I go to work, out you go.”

—Have I ever told you how much I preferred you unemployed?

“You’re the only one.”

—This is such a bother . . .

“Sorry. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get ready.”

—Such a bother . . .

January 12, 2010

 

—What do you mean I don’t have much to say? I’m a literal fount of interesting things (or is that font? . . . human language can be so ridiculously confusing).

“You mean like yesterday when you protested being put outside by yipping like a stupid little dog? Weren’t you embarrassed by such puppy-like behavior?”

—I don’t recall the incident you purport to describe, but I strongly deny that I yip like a stupid little dog. My barking is always dignified.

“A dignified yip: now there’s a concept.”

—I don’t yip.

“If you say so. I guess we’ll find you soon because you’ll be living large in the big back yard again today.”

—I refuse to go out. Even for a biscuit. You heard me: nothing can make go through that door today.

“We shall see, you big yippy dog.”

—I don’t yip!

January 8, 2010

“You had us worried, old pal, those days when food lingered in your dish far beyond the norm.”

—Oh, I’m okay. I was probably just suffering from a virus or whatever you humans have decided causes illness.

“Yeah, but you sure milked it for all the sympathy and biscuits you could muster.”

—A dog’s gotta do what a dog’s gotta do.

“I suppose.”

—Speaking of which . . .

“No way, you’ve already scored on the biscuit front.”

—I have?

“Yes, and I also notice that there’s still food in your dish.”

—I’ve discovered the advantage of being able to eat throughout the day.

“Oh really? How old are you anyway, and it took you this long to learn that gorging isn’t the best way to appreciate a meal?”

—I guess I’ve disproved that old human saying about teaching an old dog new tricks, which was always highly suspect anyway, I might add.

“Perhaps, but I remain skeptical.”

—What do you mean?

“I don’t know, maybe I think you’d wolf down your food regardless, if only you could manage, that maybe a virus, or, say a lump, is making it difficult for you to pursue old habits but you’ve been able to turn that into something advantageous.”

—Even so, it would be a new trick, right?

“I suppose, but you’re not going to tell me one way or another, are you?”

—I might be persuaded given the proper means of persuasion . . .

“Just as I thought: the old biscuit-loving dog remains, angling for as many treats as possible.”

—You’ll never know . . . but wouldn’t it be worth a paltry snack to see whether you can find out?

“And you’ll also never know . . .”

—Blast. Time for a nap, I guess.

“As I said: same old Lewis.”

January 5, 2010

“We’re worried about you, buddy.”

—Me? Why?

“Two days in a row you haven’t finished your breakfast.”

—Oh, that’s rich. Day after day, week after week, month after month, you harass me about my supposedly massive appetite, my apparent gluttony, my alleged overeating, my constant (though still unproven) begging for biscuits, but if I leave one tiny nugget of blando-dog food in my bowl, suddenly you’re worried about me?

“Well, you have to admit it is a little out of character: rarely does your bowl have much of anything in it except frozen dog slobber.”

—Even in July?

“You know what I mean, and you’re avoiding the subject, though I did note the beginning of a pre-emptive strike: are you claiming your food has just become too bland to enjoy?”

—Maybe.

“You don’t like the new brand we started giving you?”

—Maybe.

“You’re being pretty evasive about all this.”

—Maybe.

“So you’d—maybe?—not even want a biscuit right now?”

—May . . . . I mean, sure, hand it over.

“Ah, signs of the old Lewis . . . maybe later.”

—Piker.