Malachi, our red Doberman Pinscher, is dying. While we were driving home from Albuquerque, somewhere in the Lamesa, Texas area, Mom called us and told us that she couldn’t find Malachi. She said he had been missing since Thursday afternoon, and that she had forgotten to tell us the last time she called. Dad told her to go look over at his shop, since the gates that block entry into the ports have openings that are thin enough to prevent the dogs from coming out when they have been left in there by accident. A few minutes later she called us and told us that she still couldn’t find him, and Dad told Mom that we would look for him when we got home. After he had hung up, I told Dad that I hoped Malachi was okay but that I had my doubts. In addition, I told him that there was no way she had had any time to give the shop a proper inspection; to this minute I think she simply went over there in the Mule, shone a flashlight in there, called a time or two, and gave up. I also told Dad that she was looking for a living dog, not a dead one. Dad told me that he, too, had his doubts, and that we would look for him in the morning. We drove on down, passing through the town of Big Spring, which was larger and nicer than I had ever imagined it. As in Fort Stockton and Fort Sumner, a large array of electricity-generating windmills had been erected on the hills that surround the town, which caused Dad and I to wonder how long it will be before many other Texas and Southwestern cities have them. By the time we arrived in Sterling City, it had become quite dark, and, not being able to see any more of the scenery and being quite familiar with it anyway, I believe there is nothing I can say about the rest of the trip that is truly noteworthy. Well, perhaps. A car from New Mexico passed us going about 95 no less than three times between Big Spring and San Antonio. It was not the only car that we had seen going that fast–indeed, many of the others bore New Mexico plates as well. However, the driver drove completely recklessly, and every single time that he drove up behind us, he rode almost a foot from the bumper. I never moved. After we left Junction, I (Dad was asleep for most of the trip after Menard), I had got behind a small car, not wanting to go much faster than 67. Other people as well had the same idea: they attempted to pass him or her, and, not wanting to accelerate too much, fell back in behind him after realizing that passing him would cause one to speed excessively. This was certainly not without reason: I believe I saw almost ten cars that had been pulled over by the Highway Patrol. It being Labor Day weekend, they were out in full force. Anyway, eventually this car grew tired of this and sped up. I’m almost certain I saw her (so the driver turned out to be) pulled over by a Highway Patrolman near Boerne. It seems that the police never get the cars that are actually causing the most problems; they all too often seem to pull over those who I believe have a legitimate excuse and those who have only sped up to avoid dangers in traffic. When we arrived home at 2:30 a.m., bright Mars was now in the southwest, having been to the southeast (and thereby serving as a indicator of direction when we were briefly uncertain of our whereabouts near Menard) about 9 p.m. I had been behind the wheel ever since Santa Rosa, New Mexico, and was beginning to grow weary. As we were getting our bags out of the truck, I heard Dad say, “Poor Mali…” I looked over in the direction of the garage and saw the poor dog staggering over to us from the woods we had cleared after Hurricane Claudette. Within seconds we were both walking towards him. I only needed a few seconds to see the problem; the once-small growth that had worried the local veterinarian while he was removing Malachi’s stitches had now grown almost a foot in length and extended from his pubic area almost up to his chest. We patted his head and talked to him for almost five minutes. Of course, the inevitable declaration eventually came–I believe we had both been thinking it and neither Dad nor I wanted to voice it–Malachi would have to be put down. It was very obvious that he was in a large amount of pain; his hair had grown coarse and it caused him pain even to whimper. Although I said nothing to Dad, who probably felt the same way, I felt a great amount of love for this dog who had, despite his pain, struggled to his feet to meet us as we arrived home as he had done so many other times in the past. Eventually we left him; there was nothing else we could do. The first thing I did upon my entry into the house was wake Mom and tell her that we had found the dog, and that he would have to be put out of his misery. Mom, after fearing the dog dead, experienced the same emotions I had a few minutes ago: the relief at finding Mali alive was quickly replaced by a deep sadness caused by the knowledge that he would soon have to die. Malachi has been with us since we lived in Central Texas. He has been a good and faithful dog, and though he has a huge head and jaws that could bite off Delilah’s head had he ever wished it, he has always been gentle to us and loved nothing better than to curl up with his head in one of our laps. He has kept vermin and dangerous animals away from both ranches. After we got the cancer removed from his testicles a few weeks back, Dad had told me to make many pictures of him. For some reason, I did not, probably because I thought the trouble was over, and now I hope that I have taken several of him elsewhere. I plan to go out and take some pictures of him later, but these will certainly not be the photos I would prefer: those of the happy dog that was often panting and chasing animals.

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