An Important Person in My Life

Posted: February 8, 2014 by Cat Reyes in Other Thoughts, Stories
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I wrote this for school a couple months ago and decided to post it here for all of you to enjoy!

Phoebe

Of all the people in my life, one person stands out the most. She was my best friend for twelve years, until she passed away in the Spring of 2004. Her name was Phoebus Shootafar, or as everyone else knew her, Phoebe. She was not a person in the usual sense, but, in fact, was a purebred Shetland Sheepdog.

No one knew that I would go home in a few days with a dog. One of her parents was my parents’ mythology professor at school. My mom and dad were invited by the professor for a lively luncheon at their place. Since my parents had no one else to watch my brother and myself, they brought us along with the usual strict orders to be polite and obey the rules. I never previously met the professor myself, and though I heard stories about him and knew of him as being fun and very into mythology, I knew that he was a grown up, which meant, in my mind, boring.

When we pulled into the road that led to their place, we were greeted by the professor, his wife, and their dog. I was instantly enraptured by Phoebe, though, sadly, at first, she was not interested in me other than as an intruder in her space. I could not take my eyes off of her, and she would not take hers from me. After all, she did not know who I was and I was probably there to steal her tennis balls.

Before too long, with the assistance of the professor’s wife, Phoebe forgot I was a threat. I transitioned from the person who was going to steal her tennis balls to the person who was throwing them for her to chase. We spent a good part of the day that way, me throwing the balls, her chasing them with her gold, brown and white fur flowing like liquid as she moved. Early on, I had noticed a small triangular cut on her tongue and queried the professor’s wife about it.

“Phoebe’s grandmother is a grand champion,” the professor’s wife told me. “Sometimes, the owners of champion dogs do something to the dog’s babies so that when they grow up, they can’t compete.” I did not really consider it at the time, but as I grew up, I would become more and more involved in animal rights because of that small cut on Phoebe’s tongue.

All too soon, it was time to go. My parents were calling me from the car, telling me we needed to go home to get dinner started. I could only stare at them, holding a slobbery green tennis ball in my hand. Then I burst into tears. I did not want to go. It took some cajoling and a few “no desert after dinner” threats to get me into the car.

Like many of the kids I knew, I had watched endless episodes of Lassie and knew I wanted a dog like her. Combined with the fun day I enjoyed with Phoebe, my heart was set. I wanted Phoebe and I would do anything to get her. So, I hatched a plan.

I started cleaning and I was a terrible housekeeper. I tried washing dishes, but after two plates and a cup ended up shattered on the floor, my mom took over that job. I was not allowed around the stove while dinner was cooking, but that did not stop me from trying, at least until after I burnt dinner that night. My next cleaning attempt occurred the next day when I tried to sweep. I did not realize that you were supposed to sweep everything the same direction, not just stir things up swinging the broom every way that it would go. I shattered a lamp in the attempt. At that point, my parents forbade me from even trying to help clean until I was much older. So, I took my efforts outside. My next step was the garden. I started working on pulling up weeds. I was doing a pretty good job, too, until my dad came out and yelled at me for pulling up several of the plants… ok most of the plants in the garden and leaving several, in my opinion, very pretty weeds.

My parents must have caught on to what I was doing because, when I got home from school a couple of days later, Phoebe was sitting on the porch her tail wagging and a tennis ball in her mouth. It turned out that the professor and his wife, while they loved Phoebe, could not take care of her since they spent most of their time teaching in town, over an hour away. The professor gave my parents Phoebe after hearing about my various attempts at cleaning, in the hopes that I would put my attention somewhere else.

From that day on, other than school, Phoebe and I were never separated. That summer, we were explorers making our way up Compost Mountain and fending off hungry carnivorous sheep. A couple of summers after that we were battling a dragon in the backyard that had cleverly disguised itself as a tree. The tree-dragon won, by the way. When I got my driver’s license, she went with me, riding in the passenger seat, her head stuck out the window. When I got married, she wore a headband and helped walk me down the aisle.

When she passed, I knew that I would never find anyone else like Phoebe.  She helped me get through bad breakups, chick flicks, and my numerous tirades over school, my parents, my brother, or my stories. She also served as my motivator, helping me with whatever I needed, be it a tree-dragon, or a long drive. She was always watching, always waiting with patient brown eyes that melted my heart. She loved me completely, never doubting, never holding back. She was my best friend.

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Comments
  1. Only a dog owner would understand about Phoebe and you.
    When our last dog died it damn nigh broke our hearts but it only took a week before we had to go out for another fur ball to bring our family back to life. An entirely different dog, it’s own personality and quirks yet 10 years later still part of our family.

    • Cat Reyes says:

      Actually, I haven’t bonded with another dog nearly as close as I did with Phoebe. I have two dogs now and neither of them are my everything pups. I do have a cat that I have a really strong bond with though. 🙂

      • We’re out and out dog lovers here, cats? Well one of us likes cats but both of us feel you never own a cat it just allows you to look after it.

      • Cat Reyes says:

        LOL. One day I hope to get another Sheltie. They are really wonderful dogs and so energetic… maybe she will help me get to walking more. LOL Yeah, cats are my thing. I love all kinds. I think that’s the main reason for keeping cats out of Cleo’s Journal. My hubby is more of a dog person.

        You are so right. Cats own us, not the other way around. My cat, Lil Byrd, would be happy to tell you that rule.

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