By Derek Frazier
I remember the day I first met Scrappy. I was three when we went to get him. He was found online by my mother, who had fallen in love with him instantly. His previous owner had other dogs who were much larger, and they couldn’t raise all of them at the same time. We parked on their driveway and exchanged hellos to the owner. I don’t remember how the man looked (I was too young to remember faces), but I remember his whistle. It was sharp and clear, and rang loudly in my ears.
Scrappy, as he would later be called, came charging down the hill.
He was small and thin, with creamy tan fur on his body with black fur running down his back. A dirty face with a pushed in snout was complemented by fudge brown eyes and a painting pink tongue. Before I knew it, he was sitting in the front passenger seat in my mom’s lap, trying to eat her fries. Scrappy or “Scrap” was now officially a member of the family; his full name: Scrappy Doo Frazier.
I have never met anyone else who name their dogs full names. They are a member of your family, and therefore they deserve a full name. Out of all the dogs I have met in my lifetime Scrappy has the most human of personalities. What he likes and dislikes reminds me of humans.
- watching CSI
- and the early morning news.
- Listening to heavy metal or rock.
- Licking peanut butter off whatever he can find.
- Late night head rubs.
I remember sitting in my tv room one afternoon, just surfing through channels. Scrappy waddled into the room, his freshly clipped claws tapping on the hardwood floor. He sat down at my side and growled when he saw me watching a British comedy. He continued to huff and snort until I changed the channel to football, I guess the Steelers are his favorite team.
I love Scrappy — he’s my best friend and my “furry brother.” He’s been there for me through thick and thin. When I was sad he was always there to hear me vent. When it’s the last day of school he’s there to celebrate alongside me.
I only have sisters so it’s nice to know I have someone who can be a brother figure to me. Granted he’ll never be able to play video games or chess (he is all fingers and claws), but his presence is enough for me.
Life isn’t beautiful because you can keep it forever,
life is beautiful because it ends.
As I was growing up I never thought about a life without my dog. Innocently, I dreamed we would be friends for eternity. I was in the first grade when that all changed. We were living with my grandparents at the time on their property in Mount Airy. Scrap and I went walking on the back of the property, I didn’t see what was coming next.
It has rained badly the day before, so badly that giant mushrooms had started to grow on the edge of the property. Large as tea cup plates and dark as pitch, clashing with the jade green of the long grass around us. I don’t know why he ate them — to this day I can’t believe he did — those mushrooms were poisonous to dogs. Scrap ate a few massive chunks out of the mushroom before he made himself sick. I remember running my fingers through his course fur, the fur that needed brushing. He was shivering under my fingers with a fever that threatened to consume him, despite being tucked into my mother’s quilt. I remember the face he gave me, it was apologetic and sorrowful. His eyes were the real problem, deep brown with flecks of gold from the nearby lamp. They were full of fear and agony and I was scared for him as well. He was my best friend and I didn’t want him to die, we had gone through so much together for him to just slip away.
Scrappy spent the next day at the vet and we got a call that said he was fine but he was going to spend the night at the clinic. The day he came home was one of the happiest of my life, he was back. He was so full of energy and enthusiasm, it was almost as if he had never poisoned himself. He sat by my side like always, and read books over my elbow. He smiled at my jokes and barked his laughter. Nothing comes close to that kind of bond.
Years have passed and each winter has taken its toll on my old friend. He’s fourteen, grey fur has mixed into the cream color of his neck and shoulders. His eyesight is fading and he has arthritis in two of his paws that makes him limp noticeably; it gets worse when it’s cold. After two mushroom poisonings, hundreds of door run-ins, and a very humorous confrontation with the neighbor’s husky, Scrappy remains one of the toughest friends I’ve ever had.
Out of all the dogs I have met in my lifetime Scrappy has the most human of personalities.
But even the strong fade. My mother doesn’t like to talk about it but there is a rumor that this winter will be his last. The last winter was almost too much for him and his limp is becoming ever more noticeable. I don’t like seeing Scrappy in pain, but I don’t want to watch him go. He is my best friend and my brother — family aren’t the people who you leave behind.
I understand that it’s almost his time, but I’m still afraid of letting him go. Despite my fear I’ve learned a lesson. I’ve learned that life isn’t beautiful because you can keep it forever, life is beautiful because it ends. When it does, it’s over and they’ll never come back to this world, but in your heart they still live on. All that is left for us to do is be brave and carry on with life, warmed by the memories of friends and family who we were blessed to know. I’ll miss Scrappy, I’m not denying that. I’ll miss the piles of dog hair in the tv room and his impatient scratches on the back door. But he’s been in my life so long that he deserves his rest. He has put up with me for as long as I can remember, and I’ll hate to see him go. But he is in his late eighties; If he was a human, he would have earned retirement by now. So until the time he finally must go, I will save his spot during SVU and remember just how beautiful life can be.
Derek Frasier is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram.