My dog, Chato, has been my companion since 1998.
He was a gift my parents got me from a trip they made to Guadalajara, Mexico. Yes, he has his papers.
I remember them walking into the house with a cute champagne colored puppy. He couldn't be more than three months old. His nose was off-color, which I didn't care for. Plus, he yelped continuosly at night, until I'd let him sleep on the bed by my side.
He was a handful, and I was just getting started with my life. I had a love interest. I was moving to Austin. I wanted freedom. But I had a dog.
To be honest, I wasn't excited about having a dog. Not this dog. Maybe a bigger dog. Then again, why? I didn't want the responsibility. I didn't want to come home after work and take a dog for a walk. I wanted to live life.
Once I did call my parents to tell them that I couldn't take care of Chato. I asked them if they wanted him, hoping they'd agree and I wouldn't have that guilty feeling. Pitiful, I know.
But Chato was a handful. He was a juvenile dog who hadn't been fixed. So, naturally, he went crazy when he smelled pheromones. And it wasn't only girl dogs, but the girls I would bring over to the apartment. The girls that came over were always greeted by a maltese humping their leg.
I hated it.
Then I met my wife, and it all changed. Althought, he was still a horny juvenile dog, she liked him, and Chato liked her too. At one point, he decided to pee on my leg when I was kissing my wife--girlfriend at the time.
When my wife was pregnant, Chato would lay next to my wife's belly as if protecting her. I would tease that the dog probably thought she was pregnant with his baby.
After our son was born, Chato and I got closer with each other. We became symbiotic. When I was sad, he was sad. When I was sick, he would get sick. When he humped a pillow, I wanted to... never mind.
Five years ago, I started to notice my dog slowing down. Since visiting his vet in the past five years, he has been diagnosed with inflamation on the right side of his heart, spinal cord arthritis, cataracts, and kidney failure. Yet, despite this, he still has moments where he acts like a juvenile.
Deep down inside I know the day inevitable, where I will need to make that call and say good-bye. I hate seeing him in pain. Life shouldn't be this way for anyone. But again, I'm being selfish--I don't want that chapter of my life to end. Doing so would mean that I will have to let go of my young adult life and accept the dreadful middle age.