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 be appropriate to have a celebratory biscuit?

Farewell, old buddy. RIP.]