THE DOG THAT
WOULDNíT DIE

     I feel a little guilty writing about my dog again, but then I saw that a former Chronicle columnist just wrote a whole book about his relationship with his dog. At least Iím not that pathetic.
     Anyway, this is the continuing saga of our two pugs: Lucy, the smartest dog in the world, and Rocko, the stupidest dog in the world.
     When last reported, Rocko had just pooped in the living room for the 1242nd time, and I was determined to send him off to college in San Diego with my sons. Thatís when my wifeís friend stepped in and offered to adopt Rocko.
     "Hallelujah!!!" I cried. "Are you nuts?"
     Apparently, her dog had died not long ago, and she occasionally came over and walked Lucy and Rocko, just for fun. She had taken a liking to Rocko, and badly wanted him to come live with her.
     My wife was not enthusiastic about giving him up, even for a trial period. But the tantrum I threw when she said "no" convinced her otherwise. She agreed to give it a try.
     It was a win-win. Lucy was thrilled to be an only dog, Rocko was thrilled with all the attention he was getting from my wifeís friend, and I was absolutely ecstatic to not search for poops and pees every morning when I woke up.
     It lasted a month, and then came the call. "Rocko has thyroid cancer," said my wifeís friend. "The doctor says he has two months to live."
    That put a damper on things. The next day Rocko came bounding home, scampering around the living room looking for new places to make deposits. Lucy seemed happy to see him, my wife was happy to see him, even I was happy to see him.
    He was back, and he sure didnít look sick. "Itís a trick," I said to my wife as I felt the lump in his throat. "Maybe heís not as dumb as I think. I bet he swallowed a golf ball just so he could come home."
    We took him to a vet for an x-ray. Sure enough, he had cancer, but they couldnít tell whether it was operable. For that, heíd need a cat-scan (I know, I knowówhy donít they call it a dog-scan.)
    $1500 later, we got the results. My wife called me with the news. It had spread to the point where it was inoperable. She was crying, and I teared up a bit myself. Rocko didnít deserve this.
    We immediately put him on the cancer diet, which means he can eat anything and everything, anytime he wants. And when he peed all over the piano the other day, I petted him on the head and told him heíd get it right next time.
    Itís been four months since his "two months to live" diagnosis, and Rocko shows no signs of slowing down. The golf ball sized tumor in his throat (Iím still a little suspicious) hasnít grown, and his energy level hasnít dipped.
    The other day I looked at him and I could swear he looked back at me and was thinking, "Youíre going before me, sucker."
    But I know the day will come (for him, not me) and it will be difficult for all of us. Iíve never had to put a pet down, but Iíve heard from many who have, and itís obviously very emotional.
    I canít imagine him suffering. Heís always so oblivious to everything around him, I keep assuming heíll be oblivious to pain. But thatís not the way it works.
    Yet I also honestly believe heíll beat the odds, beat the doctors, beat the cat-scans, beat everyone. He may be stupid, but heís as tough as they come. He looks like a Rocko.
    And Iím rooting for him. I learned my lesson. I wonít send him away again, even for a trial period. Iíll stop threatening to send him off to college. Iíll happily clean up his poops and pees. Okay, not happily.
    And before itís too late, Iíll say it: Heís not really the stupidest dog in the world. He just acts like it sometimes.
 

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