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Commentary: A Boy and His Dog

By Jim Cercone

Buffalo, NY – I was still living with my Mother when I found him. It was one of those January Buffalo thaws that make you feel alive again. He came running up to me, jumping on me playfully. He had fire red fur and a white chest I didn't want a dog. That was 12 years ago and he has been with me through college, my first apartment, the loss of my grandparents, marriage, our first house and the birth of our children.

And now as he grows sick, his legs shaved from blood transfusions I think about how somebody didn't want this amazing dog. There was evidence he had been abused and, though I may never know, it seems clear he was abandoned. No one ever came looking for Prometheus, no one answered the ads in the newspaper. No one called the SPCA. As I carry him upstairs so he can lie at my side while I write this, I thank god they didn't. For 12 years he has been the brother I never had, my best friend, my comrade. Because of him and our walks in the park, I met my wife. We have driven across the country. He's chased deer in the Red Woods, growled at coyotes, swam in oceans, rode ferry's to Nantucket, and in that time his fur has changed to a soft white.

And he's been full of so much love. Prometheus growls and snarls but not like a guard dog. He purrs and smiles, as his lips curl up and he bares his teeth, he slips his tongue out to kiss you and he always asks for more.

For several years Prometheus has survived Addison's disease, a disease where the body destroys the adrenal glands. When we brought him to the vet he could barely stand. He was, as they say, at death's door. Our vet treated him and within a day he was fine, running and jumping as if nothing happened.

A year ago his body attacked the platelets in his blood. He started bleeding from his left eye. His prognosis was poor - a platelet count of 4,000. Dogs never come back from such a point my vet later said. But he did come back, active as ever. During that time I thought of our lives together, how for so long it was just the two of us. How, as my responsibilities grew I spent less time with him. I felt like I had taken him for granted. I asked for some more time with him, and I was given it.

He's entered my life profoundly. Our stories have intertwined for so long and now as his body attacks his platelets again, and the treatments do not seem to be working, I think of our lives together.

Thank you Prometheus for making me a better person, for teaching me how to love completely. Thank you for being excited when I came home. Thank you for teaching me the importance of walking, for keeping me company as we drove across the country, for teaching me how the wind feels when you stick your head out the car window. Thank you for laying at my side when I was sick, for hogging the bed, for getting hair on the couches when we were not home. Thank you for wrestling with me. Thank you for making me laugh and cry and feel the pain and joy of loving. Thank you for this extra year we have shared together.

Goodbye Prometheus. Perhaps we will meet again in this universe of magic and wonder. I'll have a tennis ball for you, we ll go to the park and maybe you will run again, almost flying up and down the wooded hills the way you used to. I'll never forget you buddy. Thank you for coming into my life.

Listener-Commentator Jim Cercone teaches English at Cheektowaga Central Schools. His dog, Prometheus, passed away on August 8th.