Good-bye, my friendMy best friend died on Nov. 8, 2011 at approximately 9:30 p.m.
By: By Lance Boyle, Superior Telegram
The following is a column by Don Leighton, who writes the award-winning "Have Fun or Get Out of the Way" columns with Mike Granlund under their alter egos, Lance Boyle and Billy Pirkola.
My best friend died on Nov. 8, 2011 at approximately 9:30 p.m. This friend brought our family untold joy for 15 years and made us smile regardless of any circumstance in which we were involved, good or bad. She made us forget our troubles and to appreciate the simple things in life. She wasn’t just my best friend but was the best friend and companion for Gloria, Chris, Alexa and Alex, as well. When we were all together at the same time, which is not as often as I would like, our friend would “work the room” making each one of us feel as if we were her best friend. She was a family member who will never be forgotten.
Cassie “the dog” Leighton was a toy poodle that was not your typical toy poodle. She was cut like a shaggy dog, when she had her full complement of hair. During the last couple of years, most of her coat had eroded due to Cushing’s Disease. To us, she was always beautiful. In addition, she was diagnosed as being diabetic five years ago. Life in our household revolved around 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. for her shots of insulin. It was never a bother and she never minded. I think she knew it kept her alive.
Because of her diabetic condition, she had to have something to eat around the time of her shots. Being a dog of incredible intelligence, she worked the system and demanded rides to McDonald’s, Burger King or Culver’s for a cheeseburger or two. She knew we would give her whatever she wanted because she knew how much we loved her. She had recently discovered the roast beef sandwich at Arby’s. She loved those car rides and hanging out the window.
When Cassie joined our family, Alexa had the choice between a black male or white female puppy. The male had blue toenails and ribbons while the female had pink and pink. Having begged for a dog for a couple of years, this would be Alexa’s dog since she promised to walk it every day and clean up the deposits in the back yard and clean up any accidents in the house, etc. Well, the “it” was the female who was named Cassie by Alexa. And we know how all of that other stuff turned out, don’t we?
Anyone who has a beloved pet knows the impact they have on their family. They work their way into your hearts to the point that your life as a family revolves around their life as a dog. It is amazing what you will do for your dog. Gloria and I were at Home Depot a couple of summers ago. The greeter heard us talking about Cassie who was waiting patiently in the car for us to finish our business. The gentleman was from Arkansas, spoke in that Ozarkian dialect and posed a question to me.
The question was, “How do you know who loves you more, your wife or your dog?”
I told him I had no clue.
His response was classic. He said, “Pick the hottest day of the year, put your dog and your wife in the trunk of your car, drive around town for a couple of hours and then open the trunk. See who is happy to see you.”
I saw his point but never put his theory to a test. I know what the results would have been. You see, Gloria would have used her hands and opposable thumbs to grab the tire iron and my personal injury would have closely followed the opening of said trunk. Cassie, not having opposable thumbs, would have jumped in my arms and licked me to death. Some things in life you know without putting them to a test.
We will all miss the millions of fond memories given by this animal. She was more human than many people I have known. I will miss her excitement as we approached Silverwood, her favorite “beauty shop,” because she knew she would be spoiled by Liz. When we would get home, I swear that I caught her on more than one occasion looking in the mirror and smiling as she pranced around.
The incredible staff at the Superior Animal Hospital always treated her in a special way. Dr. Bob and Dr. Sarah took great care of her which enabled her to live as long as she did. With her diabetes, Cassie lived 10 times longer than the average life span of a diabetic dog. They brought her back to life on many occasions. It is because of them we had the enjoyment and company of the best friend we have ever had. For that, my family thanks you from the deepest part of our hearts. Thank you, Dr. Bob and Serena, for being with us at the end. And thank you Kim for your compassion in helping the Leighton’s through this tough time.
For those of you who do not like animals or have never had a pet, you probably think I am nuts. For those who know of what I speak, thank you for your thoughts. Give your pet a hug and tell them you love them. They will return your love tenfold.
So long, Cassie, thank-you, and we love you.