Poco, the family dog, was put to rest today. She was 12 years old and in a lot of pain. My brother Pete told me that Poco had no idea what was going on around her anymore. It was time. Pete and my mom took her to the vet today.
Back in the early ’90s we had two dogs, first Miriya Frinklestein the retriever-lab mix, then Pocohantas the purebred Chow. I don’t remember where we got Miriya, but we had her as a puppy. She was a wonderful dog, but she chewed on stuff (as puppies tend to do), so she had to go away to allegedly live with a family on a farm. At least a year later we got a call from the vet telling us that Miriya was there. She had run away, apparently, and was very sick. I came home from school one day to a sign that read “Welcome Home, Miriya.” I thought it was a joke (I loved that dog), but my heart raced with excitement. I couldn’t open the door quickly enough. I went in to find Pete and my mom sitting with a fragile Miriya. She really had come home. But she wasn’t well. She only lasted a week or two from that day. We had to put her down.
And so Poco became the dog with whom I spent my awkward junior high and high school years. She was the dog of Stanwood Way in Sacramento. Along with cat Licorice, Pete’s cat Smokey, and birds Peru and Chile, we had a full house. We were friends to animals. They were friends to us.
There was a picture of me and Poco one Christmas (I think Alan took it) that I loved so much I had blown up to a giant poster size. I had one of those stiff backs affixed to the giant photo. I hung it on the wall of my room. I saw that poster not too long ago (when we cleaned out Nana‘s house), and it probably ended up with my mom somewhere in Tucson.
Smokey died a few years back. In 1996, when I was away at college, Licky left for a journey around the world; he has not yet returned. (Licky was a cat dear to my heart, but I’ll save his story for another day.) Chile died on Christmas Eve one year (1993 perhaps?). Peru fell into neglect during my depressed days of teenage angst. He was given to a woman from the local pet store who nursed him back to health and took good care of him.
Nana’s cat Abigail ran away earlier this year, stressed out and confused by the heat of Tucson and the trips on which she accompanied my mom between there and Southern California. I hope that Abby is now living a happy life somewhere in Tucson. Abby and Poco were good friends to Nana until she passed away last year (rest her soul).
So Poco was the last of the family pets — the end of a generation of furry friends with whom I grew up. So here’s to you, Poco, and all your friends and mine: Miriya, Licorice, Smokey, Abigail, Peru, and Chile. You all helped me through the hardest time of any kid’s life and I’ll never forget any of you.